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Old School Games: River City Ransom


River City Ransom is one of the games I wished I had got as a kid. A friend of mine had it, we would play for a bit, then get stuck. We didn't know you could wander around the city or that you get stronger buying foods. We just liked beating the snot out of the little guys. If only I had traded him something for it, action figure, a poster, or maybe just throwed him some money I could have gotten it then. Instead I waited until last year to buy it (and Castlevania 3) for twelve dollars apiece. Honestly, that's well worth it. Even having emulation available, I wanted a phisical real copy to play on. And play on it I did. For three days. The TV was mine, I tried to take down my passwords with a camera (to little success) and at one point the dog reset my game with her tail. But I beat it. I did what I couldn't do twenty years ago. Now when I play I torture myself on the advanced difficulty, hoping that I can beat it there as well. Still, there is something to be said about how much fun River City Ransom is. Beat em up's should all have RPG elements.

This is the storyline. Some more bits at the end and this are all you really need.

Gameplay is so simple but brilliant. Standard beat em up rules are in effect. Punches with one button, kicks with the second. Press both and you jump. Pause and select bring up your menu of statistics or items. The game itself is a little tricky to explain. Each street you go to lets you fight nine members of a gang. Depending on the gang that comes out, they could be easy losers or tough fighters. So picking where to fight and get cash can be tricky. Would you rather fight the lesser guys for low cash or try for the big prize against the really strong punks? On top of the streets having that going on, you also move in a less traditional manner. Which when I was a kid lost me. I had no idea that left to right wouldn't work. But sure enough, you go left to right, up and down, the city isn't gigantic but you could lose yourself in it easily. I do still yet on occasion. One point has you go through a building to get to the next half of town and I just get confused. Every so often instead of a street with gangs you'll fight a gang then a boss, or you'll be in a town where you can shop.

Yeah, beat em ups should all have RPG elements. Especially when presented like this. You've stats that all are exactly as they sound. Throw, weapon, punch, kick, and the rest are all pretty clear. The way you increase them is brilliant. You use the money from the gangs to purchase food upgrades. And you can buy books to learn karate, such as stone fist or dragon kick. Imagine kicking or punching three times in a row. You also can buy more advance flips and throws that are tricky to pull off, but put a hurting on your enemies. Whats really great is how humorous all these resteraunts are. For example, some places let you get a free smile.

Besides that is that you also can use weapons. Each of the gangs uses weapons on you, but you can steal them. So you can whack them with barrels, chains, bats, and even each other. You can pick one guy up and slap him at some other dork. You can throw weapons, you can throw the second player, you can do it all. Speaking of the second player I think that's where this really shines. Usually I play one player, but when someone is over this lights up completely. When someone comes over to play video games and has no clue what they want to play, I know exactly what to whip out. Myself and a friend about four or three years ago ended up playing this for two days straight. He actually came back over and said "hey lets play that game some more." So of course we did.

Photo of my password. I never used it.

This game is so charming. As are all the games with this look. Technos had released many games with this "kunio" blocky big eyed guy characters, Super Dodgeball being the other most well known nes game. They also did a few other River City games.Renegade, an earliar release on nes and for coin op, was part one to Ransom. Its clear that there are similarities, but its not near as classic as this. Renegade I don't much care for. As for sequels, I've yet to play one I really enjoy. I'm told the snes japanese only one is great, but it isn't english. And isn't named right, so I forgot its name. A few months passed with me hunting for the name, Shodai Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun. Forgive me for forgetting THAT. It came highly reccomended, but I couldn't get it to work. A remake on gameboy advance is out, River City Ransom EX. While not horrible, I didn't enjoy it as much. My main problem with it is the graphcs. It just went too far into the anime look instead of the big head block look. Ultimately though, it was a great game. So I can't fault it that much. Other than that, the other kunio games will get written up soon.

Old arpartment, with Abbey where she sat throughout the game.




Shodai Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun - SNES spritiual psuedo sequel

River City Ransom is technically one of the best games ever. Mechanicly, presentation wise, and sheer fun factor. Have you ever played it?
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About randombullseyeone of us since 5:44 PM on 07.05.2008

"I am hoping that I can be known as a great writer and actor some day, rather than a sex symbol." - Words of wisdom from the deity Steven Seagal

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Old School Games articles are pretty much worth reading. They say write what you know.

X-Com UFO Defense

Zelda 2

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Dragon Warrior III

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Final Fantasy 3 (Final Fantasy VI)

Way of the Samurai

Nick Arcade

We Love Katamari

Ninja Gaiden

Toejam & Earl

River City Ransom

Mega Man X

Pokemon Red/Blue

Yakuza series

Operation Darkness


X-Men 2: Clone Wars

Sweet Home

Legend of Dragoon

Clock Tower

Mystal Ninja/Ganabre Goemon series

Onimusha Warlords

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Spawn games

God Hand

Blood Will Tell

Super Godzilla


Animal Platformers

Robot Alchemic Drive (R.A.D.)

Buck Rodgers Countdown to Doomsday

Darkwing Duck

Shin Megami Tensei games (Persona, Devil Summoner, Devil Survivor)

Jurassic Park 2

Disgaea & other Nippon Ichi Games (Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom, La Pucelle Tactics, Soul Nomad)

Twisted Tales of Spike Mcfang

Resident Evil

Legend of Kage

Lost Vikings

Devil May Cry

Comix Zone

X- Men

Threads of Fate

Mutant League Football

Mega Man 7

Castlevania 2

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Dragon Warrior 2

Donkey Kong Country

Spider-man & X-Men Arcades revenge




Splatterhouse 2

Elevator Action

Mega Man 6

Mega Man 5

Dig Dug

Mega Man 4

Mega Man 3

Mega Man 2

Rock Roll Racing


Mega Man

Beat Em Ups PART 6: Future

Beat Em Ups PART 5: Playstation 2/Xbox/Gamecube

Beat Em Ups PART 4: Playstation/Saturn

Beat Em Ups PART 3: Sega Genesis Super Nintendo

Beat Em Ups PART 2: Nintendo

Beat Em Ups PART 1: Arcade

Smash TV

Ghosts & Goblins


Werewolf Last Warrior


Dragon Warrior


Rolling Thunder

Splatterhouse 3

Doom Troopers

Demons Crest

Primal Rage

Zero Wing


G. I. Joe


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