Don't box me in.

Aaaaaand here’s another sequel I get to review without having played the original. The downside is that I don’t know the history of the title and may miss some little gems. The upside is that I can provide an honest review of the game as a stand-alone work. As we’ll see below, this game stands up just fine all on its own—as it knocks you on your backside.

The Rumble Fish 2 continues along the path of the 2D arcade fighter. There’s a throwaway story that’s easy to ignore. Better to focus on the action, which is served well by the cartoonish graphics. Between the characters and the backgrounds, the game provides plenty of visual interest via shape and color as well as movement.

The fighters move rather fluidly with only some slight hesitancy when a blow stuns a character. For those of us who have played this style of fighter, this tiny pause in your character’s ability to move is something to worry about. That tiny opening is all the other fighter needs to advance and land one of myriad special attacks that really suck the hit points right out of you. As a quick side note, this game is rated T for teens. It earns this in a couple ways. The first is the obviously violent nature of the action. The second is the, shall we say, representation of certain assets, especially when battle damage occurs.

Speaking of special attacks, this game provides the player with a menu where the attacks can be mapped to your own preferences. If you are happy spending time looking through these settings, keep your eyes on the combos and special moves; there are plenty of them, and the game is not very good at volunteering this info.

Happily, there is a Training area where you can play around with a setting so low that your opponent will never counter-attack. You can go to town pounding on your opponent and practice your combos and specials to your heart’s content. And you’ll need to. Practicing ad nauseam may seem like a chore, but it’ll be worth it the first time you perfectly execute that combo in battle.

The other play modes include Arcade, Survival, Time Attack, and Vs Mode. Of course, you’ve also now got online and local multiplayer. Let’s take a look at Arcade mode. Once you start playing, the game starts a countdown to select a fighter from a list of options. If you don’t choose a fighter, the choice will be made for you. The game will then select a random opponent from the same list. Yes, it is possible to have a round where you are fighting yourself. If, and when, this happens, the game will change the color of your opponent’s outfit. Also, once you start playing, the game will show you no mercy. I had practiced with a couple of characters and thought, “This is fun; let’s go!” which quickly turned into “Where the heck did THAT come from?!” Some of the combos and specials range from annoying to downright devastating, which is great if you know how to use them before they get used on you.

The game comes with a few meters you need to keep an eye on. This is both a strong point and a weakness of the game. You have meters to show your energy level for offense, defense, guarding, and hit points. It’s good to know where you stand with your vital stats, but the layout could be a little easier to digest during the heat of battle.

As I mentioned earlier, Rumble Fish 2 game is very much ready to kick you so hard you land in next Tuesday. If you are good at this type of game, you will have some fun and face a good challenge. If you are not so good at this type of game (like me), you will spend a lot of time watching your character get up and eventually get knocked right out. But that’s the point, right? Practicing and mastering the timing and combos is part of the fun in action arcade games, and Rumble Fish 2 does enough right to keep you entertained as you climb your way from your backside to the top.