Hidden gems and Easter Eggs thrown up, but not yet uncovered
Connecting people with games that may go on to be some of their all time favorites is one of the best things about writing for Destructoid. With River City Ransom: Underground, I wonder if I did enough on that front. It’s one of the biggest, most detailed 2D beat-’em-ups I’ve ever played. I’d wager that it has 50 times the content of related games like River City: Tokyo Rumble or Double Dragon IV. Yet, not many seem to know this, hence the game’s three paltry professional reviews on Metacritic.
My guess is that people saw the River City name and figured that Underground was of similar size and scope as its predecessors, not knowing how much there is under the surface that they’ve missed out on. It’s an example of how a well known but not hugely popular name can work against you. If The Matrix had been called Johnny Mnemonic: Underground, it probably wouldn’t have done quite as well.
— Bannon Rudis (@BannonRudis) May 2, 2017
The good news is, Steam is eternal. With frequent updates and continued fan word of mouth, River City Ransom: Underground may still find its full audience. That may take a while though, at least when it comes to the game’s many secrets. After all, people can’t talk about things they don’t know. YouTuber ObsidianDraconis has found a lot of the smaller Easter Eggs and bonuses in the game, like the flying robot, Merlin’s Shop, and the cats’ giant yarn sword, but we’re still a long way to go from seeing everything. For instance, it took the community about a month to find all of the game’s hidden books, and they practically aren’t even secrets.
On top of the hidden vomit combat system, the game has at least one secret boss, some playable characters, and a totally bizarre, hilarious event that no one has uncovered yet. They’re all really cool, potentially game-selling features, but I can’t tell you much more than that. River City Ransom: Underground‘s lead artist and combat system designer Bannon Rudis showed them to me last month in exchange for the promise that I wouldn’t talk. In fact, as one of the few people who’ve seen these features first hand, I may have already said too much.
Personally, I think if he were to go public with these secrets, it would do a lot to draw people into picking up his game, but that’s not his goal here. Not unlike Seth Killian’s Mega Man 9 secret tease, all Bannon wants is to give players the sense of mystery and discovery that he experienced with the original River City Ransom on the NES for the first time, all those years ago. I just hope that he hasn’t done so at the expense of people knowing about, and then later enjoying, all the great stuff he made.