Let me present to you a hypothetical situation: your entire class is going on a field trip to Kyouto, city of history and temples and beauty (not to be confused with Kyoto, the similar city of history and temples and beauty). What are you doing while you're in the city? Sightseeing? Souvenir shopping? Learning? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and did not answer "Beat the crap out of everyone" then you are not shibui enough to be a bancho, the ruler of your school and prefecture. But that's okay, because Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is here to show you what you could've been like if you had the guts to be the greatest badass of all.
So, you're on your trip. You've got six days to become a real kind of man. This involves going around the city, finding people to beat up and, well, beating them up. That makes you stronger, earning you experience and raising your Bancho Level, allowing you to raise stats that make you a stronger bancho. To actually make progress, however, you need to find the banchos of different prefectures and beat -them- up. Doing this allows you to call them to follow you around as peons (only one peon at a time can follow you though), participating in battles and in helping you out.
Combat is initiated first by using your 'glare', something that looks like a blue laser erupting from your eye sockets. Meet someone else's glare (they get red lasers), and a Smash Talk period begins. This is a quick time event in which you're given a phrase (such as "You're not worth my time!") and then must press the correct buttons to make the phrase. Do it right, and you'll get a quick hit on your opponent. Do it wrong, and you'll find yourself knocked onto your butt. Then fists, grabs, and grapples start, ending either with you fleeing or one of you being knocked out. Then you can take the spoils of the battle, whether money, items, or weaponry, and find another target to take out.
The combat in Kenka Bancho is relatively shallow and repetitive, which is a shame because that's pretty much the entire game. You are given a decent array of moves: punches, kicks, holds, charge attacks, running attacks, and special 'kiai' moves, but more often than not a simple punch-punch-kick combo can solve any fight. Grabs are pretty much guaranteed to work at all times too, so you find yourself repeating a pattern really quick. The only time things get interesting is when there's more than one opponent, but then it tends to the side of frustrating, and the clunky combat controls means trying to attack one person while the other one attacks you is a real headache.
The city of Kyouto is large, but in general completely devoid of anything to do apart from hunting down banchos and beating them up. It's fun to run around for a bit collecting wacky hairstyles and clothing (some clothing affects how many items you can carry as well), but after a while, it becomes dull. Shops only sell various healing and recovery items or the odd souvenir weapon, so there's nothing to do in them either. There're also some random items to collect around the city, such as the pennants of each area that need to be hunted down and 'glared' at, but the act of doing so feels just as lifeless as the city.
With all this said, there's something oddly addictive about the game. The ability to replay the game after every six days of the trip, keeping all your items, abilities, and levels, means striving to continuously be the best. Actually beating the game is no easy task: the final bancho of the biggest, baddest, most badass prefecture in the country can beat you down at the end of six days repeatedly, meaning you must better yourself to face him. But this is all down to personal preference. Some people are going to enjoy the brawling aspects, but others (myself included) want something more from the title than just running between identical-looking locations.
In the end, Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble, is more than just a sum of its parts, but not much more. The combat, the most prevalent aspect of the title, is decent, but routine and clunky. The exploration aspect is alright, but a little dull due to the largely empty city of Kyouto. And the plot is...well, there, but just barely. Overall the game is a decent, perhaps repetitive experience, and is really just one of those games that you have to click with in order to really enjoy it.