River City Ransom

One of the most highly-demanded NES games out there, and for good reason.  Technos did a brilliant job of combining the best elements of a side-scrolling brawler with the character-building of an RPG.  This game was the third of the Kunio series in Japan, which mainly consisted of sports titles, with the occasional brawler thrown in.

He forgot to name some demands.  Ah well, a fight of my life sounds pretty exciting

As you can see in the above screenshots, there's plenty of the usual fare for brawlers - lots of fisticuffs, weapons, and mayhem in general.  Enemies drop money when defeated, which can be put toward a variety of items, including food, comic books, toys, and even martial arts manuals.

Conger Eel is good for the body, and the will power

Each item has its own particular use.  Food items generally restore varying amounts of health to your character.  Comic books, toys and the like increase your character's statistics such as punching and throwing, and manuals grant you the use of some nifty techniques.  Two such techniques are a rapid-fire punch called Stone Hands, and Javelin Man, which allows you to toss one enemy into another to do massive damage to both of them.

"You have learned the secrets of the East, or you just punch faster." - Fallout manual

As with any good brawler, there are also plenty of bosses for you to fight on the way to the big bad guy, most of which are more aggressive versions of the standard gang member fare.  With enough powering up and a bit of practice, though, these guys won't be too difficult.

That's sums up RCR in a nutshell.  Most of the game is just powering up for the final showdown at River City High, where the toughest gang members and bosses reside (two of which are accompanied by the theme music of Double Dragon).  It will take a good two or three hours to power up enough to survive the gauntlet and defeat Slick, but you'll have fun doing it.

RCR's insane password back-up system  - even if you leave and re-enter this screen without doing anything in between, the passwords will be completely different

Just for comparison, here's some screens of the Japanese version, Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari.


- You start off with $20, and the first shop sells both Dragon Feet and Stone Hands, which can drop enemies in one hit each.  Either one would be a wise investment.

- After defeating Rocko and exiting the factory, you'll come to a tunnel.  There is a secret shop in the tunnel that can be found by pressing up while standing under the third light.  This shop sells some extremely powerful stuff, but the prices are high.

- Get onto a wall and drop onto the enemies from above.  They won't be anticipating it, so they won't block.  Stone Hands and Dragon Feet will take out almost anything this way.

- Be careful while running around - if you hit a wall, you'll take damage.

- Use caution when throwing larger objects.  If they hit something and come bouncing back, they can injure you too.

Jump on top of an enemy's trash can, it drives them nuts

Rating: 9/10
One-line Synopsis: A great side-scrolling brawler with a dash of RPG-like item collecting.  Just the right combination for pure fun.

©2003 Spoony