The Rumble Fish 2 Review: Fun Fighting, Fishy Foundation

It’s always exciting when a retro title escapes from purgatory and gets a widespread release. Dimps’ The Rumble Fish 2 originally came out in arcades in 2005, but never made its way around the world or off arcade consoles. Now thanks to 3goo, this fighting game has gotten a second chance to make a first impression. However, its home release debut is a rather bare-bones offering, making it difficult to recommend for those outside of the most hardcore.

The Rumble Fish 2 has solid fighting fundamentals, which is where most of its appeal lies. Although there are some quicker characters, action largely feels methodical, and there’s little room for button mashing as technical play is a must. While it’s dependent on having a capable opponent around your skill level, the game is at its best when strategy is at the forefront and matches are back-and-forth affairs.

The game helps foster these types of satisfying matches by having a few interesting mechanics, such as gauge-based offensive attacks and defensive maneuvers that can change the tide of battle (which are surprisingly long since each character has two health bars). However, there’s no training mode or manual to flick through, so it forces novices to learn the move list through trial and error on the spot when playing through its survival, time attack, or arcade modes. Struggling like this is not ideal and makes it more difficult to truly appreciate what gameplay systems it has to offer, making fan-written pages online an inconvenient reality.

The Rumble Fish 2 has aged pretty well and its unique graphical style largely holds up. Animations are very smooth, although some of the actual frames for throws and certain movements can look a bit off. The cast is also quite diverse and has some wild characters like the very tall Bazoo that towers over the rest of the roster. Its lack of modes and structure are frustrating and show the game’s age, but its style and lineup have withstood the test of time enough to overcome those shortcomings.

Sadly the port also has some baffling issues when it comes to multiplayer, both offline and online. After a local versus match ends, the winning player is put into an arcade ladder automatically, rather than getting the option to rematch or switch characters. Meanwhile, after an online fight concludes, both players are kicked back to the title screen, even when in a private match. Once again, there is strangely no option to rematch or join a lobby. It’s truly one of the worst interfaces in the genre as it gets in the way of actually playing the game against other players, which is the whole appeal of The Rumble Fish 2.

The game also inexplicably has three downloadable characters at launch. Costing $3.99 a pop, this means that the full experience is over $40. There is absolutely no reason for a game from 2005 to lock several of its characters behind a paywall. Niche titles have a history of abusing downloadable content to milk players, but this is especially egregious given how slim the rest of the package is.

It is difficult to put up with The Rumble Fish 2‘s shortcomings in the presence of so many other great new fighting games and worthwhile bundles of classic ones. It’s nice that this fighting game sequel finally made its way to the U.S. after not being localized in 2005, but it has a few too many caveats, especially for those who don’t already have a reverence for the series or a fascination for the obscure. Even if the multiplayer kinks get ironed out, this remains a largely underwhelming port.

SCORE: 6/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.


Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our The Rumble Fish 2 review. Reviewed on version 1.001.000

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