It should be fairly obvious that I have a bit of an obsession with more “retro” fighting games, especially in the realm of Capcom. From the early days of playing Super Street Fighter II Turbo on SNES, old school fighting games have been part of my life- and Rival Schools: United by Fate is no exception. So, why is there no continuation of the series?
Part of it can be put simply: it was really difficult to bring any Rival Schools game to the West. While it was certainly popular at times (even, for a brief moment, retaining more interest than Street Fighter 3: 2nd Impact), attempting to bring over all of the features of the Japanese releases proved too difficult a task. Bringing the ports over to the United States, Capcom had to cut large sections of the Japanese ports due to time constraints with translation. Sale data on both Rival Schools games is sparse, but it doesn’t appear to have sold particularly well even in Japan, although they did not sell particularly poorly, either. It leaves the series in a bit of an awkward state, and it certainly doesn’t carry the same level of recognition as Darkstalkers/Vampire. Plenty of random people know who Morrigan is, but Batsu definitely doesn’t carry the same appeal.
I’d imagine a suit at Capcom would ask why they should bother to spend any money back into the Rival Schools series. My response would be that a full blown sequel isn’t necessary, and that an easy way to gauge interest would be to HD remaster the original games and port them to modern consoles and PC. After all, both Rival Schools and Project Justice still look pretty great in terms of old school graphics, and the style of both games is pretty damn clean. They are prime material for an HD remaster, and, as of writing, Hideaki Itsuno (the games’ lead designer) even still works at Capcom. Even better, if the games get remastered and then also include excellent netcode, it would help spread the notoriety of the games through sheer word of mouth alone in the FGC.
Even though it has never been Capcom’s most successful fighting game franchise, Rival Schools has a plethora of unique (but fun!) mechanics that help to separate it from its peers, even in the ’90s and ’00s. Both games are highly stylized with some fantastic art backing them, and some great characters to fill out the roster with a ton of room to expand each school’s representative further. Even after two full games, there is still simply so much potential that has been left unexplored by this game series, even if some features would need to be cut entirely in order for a future installment to be successful, such as the various character creation modes in each game. But there is still so much that can be explored with this game series’ concept, and Itsuno has said as much, expressing interest in continuing the series.
With the right amount of capital and the right amount of perspective and marketing, Rival Schools has the potential to make a comeback- especially in an age where Capcom seems perfectly intent on making 2.5D fighting games. At the very least, an HD remaster is something within a manageable scope and would, at the very least, please old school Capcom fans and entice more interest in modern day fighting game players to give this duo of games a chance to thrive on a modern platform. In other words, ohmygodpleaseCapcomthisisaneasyslamdunkpleasedothis