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Rival Schools
Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2
Project Justice

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Rival Schools United by Fate / 私立ジャスティス学園 (Shiritsu Justice Gakuen): Legions of Heroes - Arcade, PlayStation (1997)

Japanese PlayStation Cover

American PlayStation Cover

European PlayStation Cover

Initially released in the arcades, and then a year later for the PSOne, Rival Schools primarily focuses on a young student named Batsu and his friends at Taiyo High School. Apparently there are some suspicious activities going on - not only involving the kidnapping of Batsu's mother, but also the brainwashing of students - all of which revolve around the evil Justice High School. This epic plotline is told by dialogue scenes before every fight, more closely integrating the story than most fighting games. For as ludicrous as it all is, it also adds a lot of personality.

The graphics aren't exactly stellar, and somewhat lacking compared to, say, Tekken 3, but other than some flickering polygons, they get the job done. The character artwork is excellent though. The soundtrack is filled with loud, blaring synth guitars, and almost all of it is horribly catchy. As mentioned above, the fighting isn't exactly the tightest in the universe, but it's still a lot of fun.

In the arcades, Rival Schools ran off very similar hardware to the PlayStation, so the port is pretty close. The PSOne can't quite handle the same graphic resolution (at least during gameplay - all of the menus, story scenes and artwork are presented in the same, crisp high res), and there are short times between fights as characters switch in and out. There are also a few animated cutscenes, with a intro featuring a vocal song called "Atsuki Koudou" ("Burning Pulse"), and an ending song called "Ashita no Yukue" ("Tomorrow's Whereabouts"), by a singer named Isao Bitou. All of the cutscenes are fully voiced, and left in Japanese even in the English versions. However, there are some weird changes - even though the game is supposed to take place in Japan, the country is no longer mentioned by name, which is pretty strange. Some things have been left out or changed, like Roy's fierce anti-Japanese sentiment, or Tiffany's idiotic language gaffs. There are a few other additions, like having all of the secret characters unlocked at the beginning, as well as the addition of Sakura.

There are two discs in the PlayStation version - the Arcade disc and the Evolution disc. The Arcade disc just has the regular Story mode, but the Evolution has a whole bunch of extra features. The biggest - at least, in the Japanese version - is a life simulation dubbed "Nekketsu Seishun Nikki" or "Burning Blood Youth Diary". You create your own character, change their physical features, choose various statistics (like your birthday and hobbies), and choose which school to enroll in. From then on, you live out your life in the Japanese school system, picking a club to join, interacting with characters from the game, and making friends/enemies. The interaction is pretty sparse - you pretty much just answer questions when asked, and can choose different locations to visit on certain days. Depending on your actions, you can build up your statistics and learn special moves. Then you can use your custom character in regular gameplay. It's an innovative idea, although if you don't like life sims (and/or can't understand Japanese), it's mostly a waste of time, when a hands-on character creation system would've been much easier and more direct.

Apparently Capcom didn't feel that the American or European markets would be into the life sim, so they just cut it out of the localized versions entirely. There are several premade bonus characters to unlock, but it's a pretty lame substitute. Since the biggest aspect of the Evolution disc is gone, its existence is mostly pointless. There are a few extra costumes that aren't in the Arcade game, some tournament modes, and a weird "Kyoko's Office" setting where you can choose what kind of massage to get from the school nurse. There are also a few mini-games, including a soccer shoot out with Roberto, a home run simulator with Shoma, and a strange volleyball/bowling mixture with Natsu.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Capcom

Publisher:

Capcom

Director:

Hideaki Itsuno
Makoto Otsugi
Tatsuya Nakae

Genre:

Fighting
Life Simulation

Themes:

3D Models over 2D Backgrounds
Anime
Contemporary: Urban
Over the Top


Rival Schools (Arcade)

Rival Schools (Arcade)


PlayStation Version Screenshots

Comparison Screenshots



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私立ジャスティス学園: 熱血青春日記2 (Shiritsu Justice Gakuen: Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2) - PlayStation (1999)

Cover

The life sim mini-game from the first release of Justice Gakuen was so popular that it spawned its own pseudo-sequel. Unofficially dubbed "Rival Schools 1.5", Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2's simulation mode is pretty similar to the original, but expands greatly on it with new storylines, tons of new characters, and some more mini-games. All of the old ones are back, including two new ones - a Track and Field clone, and a silly dance-off featuring Parappa the Rapper style gameplay. Otherwise, the interaction is just as limited as ever.

There are also two new playable characters: Ran, the photographer, and Nagare, the swimmer. The Chairperson is also introduced, although she doesn't become playable until Project Justice. Other than the sim game, there's no real story mode, just a standard arcade option without any of the goofy dialogues. The intro is pretty lame, isn't fully animated, and just features another verse of the same song from the original. Overall the additions don't justify this game's existence, unless you're really into the sim stuff.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Capcom

Publisher:

Capcom

Genre:

Fighting
Life Simulation

Themes:

3D Models over 2D Backgrounds
Anime
Contemporary: Urban
Over the Top


Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2 (PlayStation)

Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2 (PlayStation)


Additional Screenshots


Project Justice / 燃えろ!ジャスティス学園 (Moero! Justice Gakuen) - Arcade, Dreamcast (2000)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

Project Justice, or Moero! Justice Gakuen (Burn! Justice High School) is the only true sequel to the original Rival Schools. There's a whole new plot, this time involving the evil Kurow Kirishima. There are also evil duplicates of some of the characters walking around, framing people, which clearly must be stopped. Nearly all of the characters return (including the few new faces introduced in Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2), although the likes of Roy and Tiffany are hidden. There are also a few new characters, such as Momo the childish tennis player, Yurika the musician, and Zaki the masked gang leader.

The fighting in Project Justice is almost exactly the same as its predecessor, except you can now choose teams of three instead of just two. You can also call out one of your partners to defend yourself if you get attacked by a team up move. The graphics have improved a bit over the original, with higher polygon character models, and fully rendered backgrounds, instead of a single static image. Even with the improvements, it's still rather underwhelming visually, especially when compared to Soul Calibur or Virtua Fighter 3. The music is similar to the original, but uses more realistic guitar samples, and the result isn't quite the same.

Capcom didn't put quite the same effort into the home port of Project Justice as they did for the original. Since the arcade game ran on the Naomi platform, the Dreamcast version looks and plays exactly the same. However, Capcom never dubbed the story sequences, which somehow makes them all less exuberant. There's no animated intro, and a suspicious lack of mini-games.

The Japanese version replaces the sim mode with a completely new board game feature, once again dubbed "Nekketsu Seishun Nikki". Much like before, you can design your own character, but now move them around a board to modify their abilities. Each square adjusts your stats, and you can meet with various characters placed around the playing field - most of them will chat with you and occasionally join along for a bit. They can also teach you new techniques or further modify your stats. You can play with between two and four players, with any combination of human and CPU players. Meeting up with one of your foes results in a goofy little scuffle between the characters. Although the board itself is hideously ugly, all of the players are characterized by cute little super deformed midgets. Even though it's arguably more shallow than the sim modes of the previous games, it's more engaging, and at least a bit of fun. But, like before, Capcom didn't bother to translate it, so they just hacked it out of the American version entirely. To be fair, the game only retailed for the discounted price of $20 in America, while the Japanese had to pay full price.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Capcom

Publisher:

Capcom

Director:

Hideaki Itsuno

Genre:

Fighting

Themes:

3D Models over 2D Backgrounds
Anime
Contemporary: Urban
Over the Top


Project Justice (Dreamcast)

Project Justice (Dreamcast)


Additional Screenshots


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Despite its popularity around its time of release - especially in Japan - Rival Schools faded into near-obscurity after Project Justice. As begrudgingly mentioned above, Kyosuke found his way into Capcom vs SNK 2, appearing in 2D form, and both Kyoko and Hideo - along with Justice High School - appear in the crossover strategy game Namco X Capcom. Only about a decade later, series hero Batsu returned in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Apparently there's also a comic book in the works. There was also a punk band named after the game, calling themselves "Rival Schools United by Fate", although they've since broken up. It's a suiting tribute to one of Capcom's most amusing fighting game series.



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Page 1:
Introduction
Character Profiles

Page 2:
Rival Schools
Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2
Project Justice

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