River City Ransom: #1 underrated NES cart


rivercityransom_033004_005.jpg As your sometimes bard of video game past, it is my duty to tell a classic tale of two brothers. Where do I begin? Oh yes, the damn 80's. Back then, there were three kinds of NES children. The first kind were born with names like Thor. These select few could finish games like Section-Z, and ate foil. The second kind were like your humble storyteller, whom through strategic family manipulation and G.I.Joe sales achieved a stack of carts. These were often traded and stolen by neighborhood kids (Screw you Popeye, I know you took my Metroid!) These survival techniques, coupled with a very well placed Video Rental store offered my bretheren exposure to a lot of games (and thus, truly lived). The third kind was the deprived. Operating on a limited information from the evil GamePro, whom thus got permanently stuck with games from the likes of Tengen and Data East. This kind never got to enjoy River City Ransom and thus, unfortunately believes that Double Dragon and Bad Dudes was as good as side-scrolling fighting games got. It is not too late for you. Repent.
River City Ransom (or Street Gangs in the UK) was this extremely kick ass cult classic that brought what Double Dragon on the NES was missing - cooperative gameplay, simple RPG elements, and non-linear exploration. You could do absolutely nothing in the game and run through the entire world if that was your will. The plot was tired - some girl is in trouble and some neighborhood guys step in to clean up the town - but timeless, as demonstrated by that recent film by The Rock. Kicking ass in your hometown never gets old, and neither does this game.
The basic gameplay involved talking to NPCs around the city and trying to figure out where the pudgy little gang leaders were going to be. All of the various gangs had names (my favorite being a gang who is actually called "The Generic Dudes"). And unlike the Abobo's and William's of the Williams company, these guys have personality. They don't just machinegun your girlfriend down. They say stuff like BARF! and OUCH!
You explored cities, warehouses, back alleys, and - a breakthrough at the time - interactive shopping malls where you could use your hard earned mugging money on stuff like sushi to raise your stamina. The game has hundreds of things to eat and buy, it was a blast trying to figure out where to go shopping. And unlike DD, Technos put in a password continue feature so you could take your time. Everyone agrees that the people look like little turds, and moreso when they are dashing. The dealbreaker in this game that really puts it over the top is the gameplay. You have your standard kick, punch, jumpkick, use dropped items thing, but you can also launch them AND PICK UP KNOCKED OUT PEOPLE AND USE THEIR BODIES AS WEAPONS. You could also beat up your co-op player and take his money. It doesn't have any of the "jumping bullshit" that Double Dragon 2 had. There's like 1 tricky jump in the whole game and there aren't any stupid spinning spiky mechanical gears under it. You could level up your attacks through buying techniques, achieveing a Fist of the North Star style attack speed and somersaults of death (Acro Circus baby!). And to top it off, it had a catchy 8-bit j-pop soundtrack and the shock of bare 8-bit ass in the sauna room.
Unfortunately, the sequels thus far were lackluster and not worth mentioning. If you missed out, we implore you to pick up the Rom at your favorite pirate web site or on Ebay. And you are in luck, because the game has been rereleased! This new sequel is due in May for the Gameboy Advance (dit-di-diii). We can't wait!

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Niero Gonzalez
Niero GonzalezMeat Vessel   gamer profile

I keep Destructoid weird. Also I'm a playable character in Retro City Rampage, look: (along with the whole 2009 Dtoid Editorial team) Sometimes I have a villainous mustache My dog CoCo chec... more + disclosures



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