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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.


River City Ransom NES Forest battle
River City Ransom Game Boy Advance Setting up fighting tactics for our ally.
River City Ransom TurboGrafx CD Go away, schoolgirls! Arrrrrggh!!!
River City Ransom NES Selecting game mode & character... obviously

Promo Images

River City Ransom Other
River City Ransom Screenshot
River City Ransom Screenshot
River City Ransom Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "ダウンタウン熱血物語ex" -- Japanese Game Boy Advance spelling
  • "ダウンタウン熱血物語" -- Japanese spelling
  • "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
  • "Street Gangs" -- European title
  • "River City Ransom EX" -- Game Boy Advance title
  • "Kunio-kun The World: Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari" -- Microsoft / PlayStation Store Japanese title
  • "Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari EX" -- Japanese Game Boy Advance title
  • "Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari" -- Japanese title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

River City: Where the smiles are free! NES Adzuken (854)
Barf! NES Zovni (10627)
Take Street Fighter, add Final Fantasy, throw in some Super Mario Brothers, what do you get? River City Ransom! NES Jimmy Sherrill (8)
Street fighting never got better than this NES MaiZure (126)
Humorous Fighting is "In" on the Gameboy Advance! Game Boy Advance Stephen Lambert (5)

Critic Reviews NES Mar 22, 2013 A 100
Thunderbolt Games NES Jul 29, 2004 10 out of 10 100
Netjak NES Aug 16, 2002 9.5 out of 10 95
Player One NES Sep, 1992 93 out of 100 93 NES Aug 13, 2021 9 out of 10 90
Game Informer Magazine NES Sep, 2001 8.5 out of 10 85
GamesCollection NES Nov 26, 2007 8.5 out of 10 85 (UK) Wii Feb 23, 2008 8 out of 10 80
Joystick (French) NES Nov, 1992 74 out of 100 74
GamerDad Game Boy Advance Jun 30, 2004 2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars 40


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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
Contributed to by Ghost (130), Shoddyan (14396), GTramp (77629), Michael Cassidy (21110), Rik Hideto (461000), Kam1Kaz3NL77 (457077), Infernos (36410), Zovni (10627) and gamewarrior (5042)
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