Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is a brawler deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Instead of trying to adjust the story for the West, Atlus stuck with the source material and even kept some Japanese slang. In this interview, Atlus discusses Kenka Bancho’s unique flavor and the lengths they went to preserve it.
What made Kenka Bancho 3 a game Atlus wanted to publish?
Aram Jabbari (Manager, PR and Sales): Because it’s a great game, one we really enjoyed playing when we first took a look at it. It’s a great script, whether you look at the Japanese original or the great localization our translators and editors put together, and it’s an incredibly satisfying beat ‘em up with more depth than what’s typical in the genre. A good-looking, fun-playing game with laughs? We’re proud to put the Atlus name on it!
Mike Meeker (Editor): Honestly, after doing so many super-serious RPGs (not counting SRTOGSEF) I just wanted to beat the tar out of some punks with goofy hair. When Kenka Bancho 3 showed up on our doorstep, I fell in love with its ridiculous style and its over-the-top humor.
When you first announced Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble it was supposed to come out next year. Why did you change its release to November?
AJ: We discovered a time machine in the dumpster behind our office (apparently one of the neighboring businesses didn’t want to do any more damage to the space-time continuum, or something), and of course, we being completely reckless when it comes to things that could tear the universe asunder, we immediately started goofing around and lo and behold, earlier release date for Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble.
There are a bunch of ways you can customize Sakamoto’s moves. What are some of your favorite attacks and powerful combos?
MM: I always appreciate a good body slam, but the Dream Crusher holds a special place in my heart.
How open ended is Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble? In the game, you can hang out with Manami (one of Sakamoto’s fellow students) or ditch class and hunt other banchos.
MM: Every morning, your class will head off to that day’s tourist trap attraction. You can choose to go with them or not. If you do you’ll get some special story sequences, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. In the afternoon, you can pursue your own agenda of kicking ass and taking names all over town.
Each bancho has a distinct personality. Who are your favorites?
MM: I forget the names, but my favorites are the guy who can’t stop himself from talkizzling like thizzle, and the sukeban in the lonska.
AJ: My ears… is that blood?
When localizing Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble it feels as if you preserved the game’s Japanese flavor. What were some of the challenges and why did you keep words like "bancho" and "shibui"?
MM: “Bancho” has a flavor all its own that isn’t quite applicable in English. It’s like an honorable bully, but not necessarily evil. I liked keeping their slang in there, since there was this undertone of a serious samurai bushido code going on, but in the end they’re all just a bunch of knuckleheads kicking each others’ faces in. It’s fun and it’s rowdy and stupid and full of machismic posturing.
I like how the loading screens explain some of the Japanese slang like "Yankii". Was this in the original game or did Atlus add this in?
MM: The loading screens did have a dictionary of sorts, but in the original Japanese it was mostly stuff about Kyouto, like a tourist’s guide. We took the opportunity to integrate a slang dictionary into the loading screens that’ll randomly throw a word your way whenever you move between scenes. Atlus makes learning fun!
This is going to be subjective, but do you think Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble would have more mainstream appeal if it didn’t have Japanese slang?
AJ: That is subjective, isn’t it.
MM: Nope. Shabazo.
Atlus has a track record of polishing games before they come to the US. Did you enhance Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble at all?
Mike: I like to think I made the jokes better, but I say that about everything, so you probably shouldn’t listen to me.
Hey you know, (no I’m sure you know!) Kenka Bancho is being ported to the PSP. Is Atlus planning on localizing that game too?
AJ: We have no plans, Spencer. May I call you Spencer?
Mike: Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of me being shibui.