Review by Ofisil

Reviewed: 08/23/10

Grinding on the NES

River City Ransom is a Fighting game, (with a little bit of RPG thrown in), developed by Technos. I recently played River City Ransom through emulation, (since it was quite unknown in my country when it came out), and I can’t say I was fascinated by it. The game is considered to be a major cult classic and I honestly can’t see why… the first 10 minutes of the game show everything this game has to offer so I can’t understand why people love it so much. But lets analyze things a bit more…

Story: N/A

River City Ransom is basically a more light-hearted version of Double Dragon. A gang has kidnapped your girlfriend and is keeping her in a certain high school. You must fight your way through gangs known as the Generic Dudes, the Mob or the Internationals, until you reach the final boss, kick his pixilated a$$ and… nothing! No ending, no nothing… just a few lines of text and then the end…

Gameplay: 6.8/10
Replay Value: 0/10

River City Ransom takes the basic formula of Double Dragon and adds lots of goofiness and minor RPG elements. What you basically do in this game is fight, fight, fight, fight… for a NES game the battles are quite fun with a nice arsenal of moves available. You can punch, kick and kick\punch in the air, you can use melee weapons or throw them at your enemies, grab enemies from the floor and use them as weapons(!) and many more. The first problem, (the main one actually), is the repetitive nature of the game. All enemies are pretty much the same. Yeah, each time you enter an area a different “gang” spawns with slightly different AI, (more into weapons, more into punching, etc), but in the end they are all the same. The second feature of the game is the way you increase your stats. You see RCR is a bit of an RPG, since your hero has strength, defense, agility and many more stats that you can increase in the various malls available, by buying food or other items. You see each time an enemy gets killed you get a small amount of money with which you can buy this stuff and raise your stats. This at first makes the game quite addictive, as if it is Diablo in NES but soon becomes quite a tedious task, (and the only thing available to say the truth). Also it makes the challenge quite unbalanced. If you gather enough money before you even enter the second mall you can max out most of your abilities giving you the chance to run straight for the final boss, (the game is very small), and kill him. All in all while the battles are fun and the game can be quite addictive for an hour or so, you’ll soon realize that it is the same repetitive and linear game from the beginning to the end.

Graphics: 7.8/10
Design: 6.8/10

There is only one bad thing about the graphics of RCR… that everything becomes so repetitive. In the 6-10 hours you’ll spent in the game you’ll see the same 4-5 enemies, (and only their face is different), the action takes place in one small city so each area is pretty similar with all the others and generally the game suffers from lack of variety. On the other hand everything is well designed. Characters have that typical Technos look which I love, a unique deformed manga style that makes every character in the game both cute and funny. Especially the gestures our hero makes when buying stuff in the various towns are priceless. Finally I like the rampage that goes on when you fight. You’ll see enemies throwing various staff at you that hit you and bounce back, you’ll see yourself on top of a thrash can that an enemy is currently holding over his head(?), tires rolling and many more, all making the game look quite good for a NES game.

Sound: 7.2/10
Music: 5.6/10

The sound effects are very good, distinctive and unique since as far as I know only Nintendo World Cup has similar sounds. While fighting you’ll hear all kinds of stuff… punches, kicks, jumping sounds, weapons clanging, boxes falling and many more. While we have a nice variety in SFX the same can’t be said about the music, which while good consists of 2-3 themes if I remember correctly and can get WAY too repetitive.

-Fun fights
-Good graphics & SFX

-Extremely repetitive, all enemies are the same
-The “EXP” system isn’t so good
-Easy to exploit the game
-Good but too repetitive graphics
-Repetitive music

Also Play:
Battletoads (Various Platforms)
Double Dragon 1-3 (NES)
Renegade (NES)
River City Ransom EX (GBA)

Overall: 5.7 /10

River City Ransom is a mystery for me… I wonder why people love it. It’s not bad, but it is far from the perfect game everybody is talking about…

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: River City Ransom (US, 01/31/90)

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