One of the industry’s more positive movements right now is the preservation of cult classics on the PS Store. While there’s still a long way to go, we’re gradually beginning to see publishers dig deep into their catalogues, and resurrect releases from yesteryear for a whole new audience to enjoy. The Rumble Fish 2 is a particularly deep cut: an uber-hardcore fighting game from 2005 originally designed by Dimps to take advantage of Sammy’s Atomiswave arcade hardware.
Unlike its predecessor – which was ported to the PS2 in Japan only – this sequel has never received a console conversion, only adding to its overall mystique. And it’s easy to see why it’s so well-regarded: its flagship Smooth Model Animation system can look a little odd from a contemporary perspective, with each limb seemingly animated independently, but it makes for a creative combat palette that’s a joy to explore. Two distinct power gauges – Offense and Defense – unlock a staggering array of depth, although the complex gestures mean you’ll be better off playing with an arcade stick than a traditional d-pad.
Considering its significant complexity, it’s a surprise to see so much of the game’s instructional information relegated to blink-and-you’ll-miss-it loading screens; you’re best off referring to one of the title’s impressive unofficial Wikis if you intend to eke any real value out of the release’s colourful cast of characters. And that’s perhaps this version’s biggest shortcoming: the package as a whole doesn’t really justify its steep £26.99/$29.99 asking fee. Rollback netcode is available, but with no lobbies, ranking, or even rematch system, the online mulitplayer may as well not exist – and three of the characters, originally available by entering codes into the arcade cabinet’s operator screen, are restricted to paid DLC.
The core arcade fighting, with its persistent clothing damage and blend of vivid 2D and 3D visuals, makes it a compelling curio for fighting game faithfuls. But the package as a whole falls short of expectations, and will either need major updates or a chunky price drop moving forwards.