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River City Ransom (NES)

80
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9360)
Written on  :  Feb 24, 2005
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Summary

Barf!

The Good

River City Ransom is the seminal beat 'em up title for the NES, a classic of street fighting that has proven to be one of the coolest games ever.

The reason for it's success is that it managed to mix superb arcade action with an unprecedented level of gameplay depth for a game of it's kind. This is because instead of being just a Double Dragon clone, RCR adds the option of improving your character's skills and abilities as you play, with new moves and improved stats to use.

The basic gameplay concept revolves around you scrolling through several side-scrolling stages a-la Double Dragon and beating up the many kinds of gang members that are out to get you. As you start the game you have a small array of basic moves that take a while to take down each baddie, fortunately there's a lot of weapons and assorted items you can use as weapons (barrels, pipes, chains, etc.), use them effectively and you'll beat your foes easily, with the reward being the money they drop whenever they die. This is when RCR's most interesting aspect comes into play, as there are several stores sprinkled through the game in which you can spend this hard-earned cash in health-recovering items, or buy stat-improving drugs and power-ups, as well as new moves to better deal with the incoming challenges.

This basic gameplay gimmick adds the spice that was missing in the beat 'em up genre, and it's so flawlessly balanced and designed that it manages to be a standout feature even to this day, probably (and rightly so) making it the best beat 'em up ever in the minds of most gamers that had the distinct pleasure of crossing paths with it upon it's original release.

Graphics and sounds are adequate for the title's age and use that distinct SD char. design from all the Kunio-kun Technos games that gives the game a distinct charm.

Oh and the Barf is just priceless! Whenever you beat down an enemy their eyes pop-out and scream the now classic "Barf" that remains to this day the coolest "dying" scream ever. I mean, the Barf and the pleasures of "engrish" only increase the title's already monumental charm.

The Bad

It could be quite a challenge in it's day, not only did you need good arcade reflexes to beat the game, but also a distinct strategy, specially on the boss fights (man, remember when boss fights were hard??). The controls and animations were also rather slow for my taste, but that's just me.

The Bottom Line

One of the best titles from the 8-bit era and a certified classic. If you've never played RCR not only are you NOT a gamer, but you have a black, soul-less heart and are the personification of everything that is evil.

Well, maybe not all of that, but seriously. RCR defines cool, and it's truly one of the best arcade games ever with more brains and depth than the Double Dragons of it's day.