River City Ransom

aka: Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari EX, Kunio-kun The World: Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, River City Ransom EX, Street Gangs
Moby ID: 7645
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Description official descriptions

The evil Slick has kidnapped Ryan's girlfriend and taken over the high school. The player is cast as either Ryan or Alex (second player) and has to fight his way through River City's merciless gangs before confronting Slick and freeing his girl.

River City Ransom is a side-scrolling beat-em-up similar to Double Dragon. The player, or players, travel through the locations of River City, encountering various gangs along the way. Gang members can be defeated with punches and kicks, or beaten up with objects scattered around. Upon their defeat, gang members drop money which Alex and Ryan can spend in malls to buy items that restore health and improve their combat abilities. The main characters have RPG-like numerical stats that can be improved this way, and can also buy books to learn combat manoeuvres. To finish the game, the player(s) have to find and defeat all the bosses.

The Game Boy Advance port of the game adds a number of features, including the ability to recruit certain characters (including defeated bosses) to fight alongside you. It also has different gangs and several new weapons.


  • くにおくん ザ・ワールド ~ダウンタウン熱血物語~ - Microsoft / PlayStation Store Japanese spelling
  • ダウンタウン熱血物語 - Japanese spelling
  • ダウンタウン熱血物語ex - Japanese Game Boy Advance spelling

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Credits (NES version)

16 People (13 developers, 3 thanks)

Programmed by
Character Design by
B.G. Designed by
Sound Composed by
Sound Programmed by
Manual Package Design by
Special Thanks to
Directed by



Average score: 78% (based on 31 ratings)


Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 94 ratings with 5 reviews)

Humorous Fighting is "In" on the Gameboy Advance!

The Good
Humor is interspersed throughout this game. Everything from what the enemy will say when hit (Mommy! BARF! etc.) to the expressions of the characters tickles the funnybone. The powerups are amazing in this game, letting you fully customize your character in any different way you'd like. For pure fighting fun, this game is a "go". Colorful animations round out the likes of this classic remake.

The Bad
The sound gets a bit annoying at times, especially since it pretty much stays the same during the whole playing time. If you're looking for drop-dead graphics, you might want to look elsewhere, as this game has only slightly improved on the NES original.

The Bottom Line
Pure fighting fun on the go, wherever you might be. This game can also be addictive in it's play, as you can customize your character as much as you like. Humour abounds through this small fighting game, and if you like to punch, kick, and generally cause mayhem (without any blood being spilt), this game will be for you.

Game Boy Advance · by Stephen Lambert (4) · 2006


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.

NES · by Zovni (10503) · 2005

Street fighting never got better than this

The Good
The mix of RPG and action elements in this title were superb. You beat up gang members and get cash. You use the cash to buy drugs, items, food, anything to improve you characters stats so he can beat up more guys and get more cash. The cycle was pulled off well enough to not be repetative by the time the end of the game came around.

The Bad
It's hard to zero in on a single negative aspect of this game. Perhaps it was too short. An aspect I didn't like about the story, was that River City Ransom 2 was never released in english, so this game seemed somewhat incomplete without it.

The Bottom Line
Any fan of Double Dragon for the NES should check this title out.

NES · by MaiZure (59) · 2003

[ View all 5 player reviews ]



Despite what a first-time player might think, the enemies aren't randomly generated—each of the gangs has nine pre-defined members (ten in the GBA version), each with his own specific name, appearance, and even different stats.

Final boss

In the GBA port, the final boss (Slick) can use a telekinetic attack where he tosses weapons at the player. The original NES version contains an unused sprite of Slick doing the same attack pose, suggesting that he was originally going to have psychic powers in the NES game but they were never implemented.


  • When you are on the 3rd floor of the school and you fight the "Dragon Twins", the background music is the same music from the NES game Double Dragon.
  • The gang duo Benny & Clyde is an obvious take on the famous criminal duo "Bonnie and Clyde" from the 1930s.

Version differences

In the original Japanese version (Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari) the characters wore schoolboy jackets and belonged to high schools instead of gangs. This was changed in the American version because the jackets could be mistaken for bathrobes and beating up evil gang members seemed like a more worthy cause. This, however, does not apply to the Game Boy Advance port, where the character still wear the "bathrobes" in the American version.


  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • December 1989 (Issue 5) - Most Power-Ups in a Video Game* GameSpy
    • 2004 – Best Use of Barf of the Year (GBA)

Information also contributed by Jimmy Sherrill


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ghost.

Game Boy Advance added by Shoddyan. Nintendo 3DS added by GTramp. Wii U added by Michael Cassidy. PlayStation 4, Xbox One added by Rik Hideto. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Sharp X68000 added by Infernos. TurboGrafx CD added by Zovni. Wii added by gamewarrior.

Additional contributors: Shoddyan, tarmo888, MaiZure, Joshua J. Slone, Alaka, Игги Друге, Havoc Crow, Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto.

Game added November 3, 2002. Last modified February 24, 2024.