Saturday, November 2, 2013

Below the Cut: River City Ransom (NES)

AKA Street Gangs (Source:
River City Ransom - Rating(8 RPP)
1) 2 - Character Advancement: practice/experience based advancement, stat or level increases, multiple classes or characters, customize characters
2) 2 - Combat: character stats used for combat, additional combat options, turn based
3) 1 - Items and Equipment: store to buy and sell, equipment decisions, item decisions
4) 1 - Story: main story at the forefront; world full of hints and lore; descriptions for objects, people, and places
5) 2 - Exploration: open world from the beginning, visited locations remain open
6) 0 - Quests and Puzzles: side quests not related to the main quest, puzzles and riddles to solve

River City Ransom is at its heart a beat'em up, yet it often gets cited as an action-RPG. Created by the same company that brought us Double Dragon, it's no surprise the game has a leveling mechanic where the character learns additional moves. In this title, instead of getting better attacks through pure points and combat level, River City Ransom has the enemy drop money. Money is used to purchase books, which the character can equip to learn new moves, and food that can refill health and boost stats.

The game has one of the most basic framing stories. Someone named Slick has kidnapped Ryan's girlfriend, and released his gangs on the street to stop any rescue attempt. Well who really needs a story, just go beat up everyone that attacks. I found it strange that the first character is actually Alex, and the second is Ryan.
What demands?
I'll admit, I didn't play through the entire game. I think I made it to the second boss. In that time I  noted no side quests, no NPC interactions (other than vendors), and no puzzles. I think I've discussed it before, but the point for stores requires buying and selling. I gave it a point for customization since it does have the option of selecting different attacks to equip. Even though the world is very linear, there aren't any physical barriers, and previous locations aren't blocked either.
Here's an iconic shot
The first time I heard of this game was from Nintendo Power. They had a full map of the entire game, stores, and strategies. Thinking on it now, I don't know why I considered Nintendo Power an acceptable source of game hints yet I shied away from pure strategy guides.
*Spoilers* (Source: Giant Bomb)
It's a fun game, but just not enough RPG elements to consider it for this blog. There's a two player option, and the game is available on Nintendo's Virtual Console in case anyone is interested. There's also the speedrun to check out if you have 10 minutes to kill. For now, let's move on to a relatively unknown action-RPG, Little Ninja Brothers, and see what differences make it more eligible for coverage.


  1. I also would not consider it an RPG. I did pick it up a couple years ago though, and really enjoyed it!

  2. Yeah, it doesn't seem to have enough RPG elements... although I wonder if a beat-em-up like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World would qualify by your scale.

    That River City Ransom speedrun is amazing. The ending isn't cut off either, so I got to enjoy the epic story saga (all three paragraphs of it).

    1. It's possible. I know that Guardian Heroes is on the list from at least one source. Whether or not it really belongs I won't know until I get closer to that year.

      Glad you enjoyed the speedrun. Feasel is a great runner who's done many other NES titles. Here's his streaming channel:

  3. Surprised this would even be considered RPG since I always considered it a good action scroller... but I really wanted to say was that you have good timing since there's an interview with the title's creators in regards to its 20 year anniversary and a (seemingly required nowadays) Kickstarter for the new River City Ransom: Underground ( Your article was a day after this one, so definitely well timed!

    1. RPGamer has a lot of questionable titles. One that I'm actually considering playing through again because it's just so good is ActRaiser, but that's more of an action-simulation and I wouldn't spend more than a single post on it.

      That projector looks promising. They're definitely staying true to the source material. It's funny too because the EvilGeeks article I used the box art from was only a few days old as well, but didn't mention the new game.

  4. I always enjoyed this one, but I agree - it's only RPG elements, I never considered it an RPG. I'd love to see this brought back in some fashion, but I can see where it doesn't really fit the theme of games here.

    1. Then you should search for RCR on Kickstarter.

    2. I'm pretty surprised this is the first I'm hearing of it. I wonder why the game didn't receive a sequel back in the day.