River City Ransom – Technos (1989)

The first time I ever read about River City Ransom was in an old issue of Nintendo Power. It looked terrific. It had great graphics, a neat story, and a fighting system that resembled a juiced-up Double Dragon. In fact, it was developed by Technos Japan, the team that produced the Double Dragon games. However, that wasn’t what really pulled me in… it had stores.

The story is simple, although a bit more complex than, say, Super Dodge Ball. Actually, it goes like this: Alex and Ryan are two cool young fighters who go to Cross Town High. “SLICK” kidnaps Ryan’s girlfriend Cyndi and is holding her hostage at River City High on the other side of town. SLICK leaves his henchmen all over town to stop you from getting her back. Perhaps this letter from the in-game intro will help you feel the depth of SLICK’s evil:

“I hold your city captive &
RYAN’s girlfriend hostage.
With my gangs of students &
evil bosses, nobody can stop
me now. Meet my demands – or
else!… P.S. Alex & Ryan if
you interfere, you’ll be in
for the fight of your lives!

Next we’ll talk about graphics. River City Ransom (RCR) has graphics that look exactly the same as other Technos classics, such as Super Dodge Ball, Nintendo World Cup, and Crash ‘n’ the Boys Street Challenge. Large heads, squat arms and legs, and big hair. The colors are perfectly used, and the backgrounds are also well done. When hit with a trash can, a gang member will crouch and his mouth will hang open. It’s great. The stores look great, too.

The sound is good. The music is always just right for the particular situation. There is only one real boss theme, but it sets the mood terrificly. Also, there are different little songs for all the stores you go into.

The gameplay of RCR is what makes it one of my favorite games of all time. You start out with the ability to punch, kick, and jump. You can pick up many items, including trashcans, tires, and lead pipes. It’s just so fun to beat someone three times with a trashcan, and throw it at him for the kill. And what best is that there is no cheap “Final Fight”-esque breaking of weapons. You can carry that trashcan over your head for the entire game if it suits you. Another great factor is money. When you kill an enemy in RCR, it will shout a death cry (such as “BARF!!!”, or “MOMMY!”) and his body will flash and turn into a bouncing coin. Your money is measured in dollars and cents, and
you can spend it at one of many malls throughout your open-ended journey. You can buy sushi, baked goods, toys, boots, medicine, and much more. In fact, technique books, which are generally a more expensive item, allow you to do more than just regular kicking, punching, and throwing. Finally, the two player mode is great fun, too. (Try throwing your teammate at the enemy! HA!)

I didn’t buy the game until I saw it years after I saw it in Nintendo Power, and it is a pretty hard game to find today. Overall, River City Ransom is my second favorite game of all time. What other game can you see a video game character’s butt while he takes a shower? It’s just as good as it gets.

Reviewed by Jason

Cheats & Strategy

Rename Alex and Ryan:
Press A + B + Select at the one/two player selection screen to rename Alex and Ryan to the name of your choice.

Merlin’s Mystery Shop:
Stand under the fourth light from the left side in the Armstrong Thru-Way Tunnel. Press UP to find Merlin’s Mystery Shop, which sells several powerful but expensive items.

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