We here at GI are strong proponents of anything Japanese, fighting games and education. So, you can imagine the delight that is a generous mix of all three. To that end, it should be obvious by now that we love Rival Schools and its overall series Project Justice. Despite the fact that it comes from the brain trust known as Capcom, we’re still entranced by the concept of Japanese high school students fighting to save themselves.
The middle game in the series, Rival Schools 2, is an interesting addition to the family of fighting games. It’s neither a true sequel nor a spin-off of the original game. It’s an addendum, which Capcom is notorious for pushing on the general buying public. It’s more of the original game — which we love — with some upgrades thrown in to make it worth importing. This version was never released in America, thus there are modes that you will never see. That makes importing the game worth the time and trouble.
RS2 is your standard fighting game, which doesn’t make it unique. However, the inclusion of the board game mode and the character creation mode that plays out like an eroge simulation are some of the goodies that we’re missing out on in the U.S. There’s also the addition of three new characters: Ran, a photojournalist who uses her camera to attack; Nagare, a swimmer; and, Chairperson/Iinciyo, who leads the charge for Taiyo High School students to defend themselves. Other than these gifts, there’s not much different here than the first game. You’re still fighting to defend your chosen school, and there’s still fun to be had in a slightly deep fighting game system. There’s not too much different aesthetics-wise, in that there are a few new stages and new stage themes. The older stages are still here and it’s fun to play against the newcomers with older characters or a created character.
I have two caveats with recommending the game to others. The first is the fact that it’s in Japanese mostly and reading is a must to get through the character creation and board game modes. That’s a bit much if you’re not into the language or know enough to navigate through menus. The other issue is the fact that, as usual, Capcom has seen fit to deny American gamers the best of a series, shortchanging loyal money-spending fans who would pay a high price for the goodies of the character creation mode and the board game mode. The dirty truth of it all is Capcom has never thought highly of its American audience. We’re not going to see something awesome like either mode because “we just wouldn’t get it anyway.” A fun fact is that both modes were to be included in the first game but were left out in America because it would have been too much trouble to include them for Americans, according to Capcom of Japan. But we’re smart enough to make cash grabs off of for multiple version of Street Fighter, though, right?
The moral of this story is that Rival Schools and its further sequels all deserve to be played by a wider audience. Although it’s a slight rehash of the first game, RS2 was deserving of respect and a proper introduction to the American audience. Thankfully, we were allowed to see the next sequel, Project Justice. Here’s hoping for a class reunion.