Oct 17, 2017 Last Updated 12:43 PM, Oct 17, 2017

River City Ransom: Underground Review

Published in Action
Read 1395 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)

It’s finally here.

The long-awaited sequel to River City Ransom. A coming-of-age story about two high school students, Alex and Ryan, hell-bent on rescuing River City High School, and Ryans super hot girlfriend, from the sinfully sleazy scoundrel, "Slick." If you haven’t experienced River City Ransom, or its predecessors in the Kunio-Kun franchise (including such titles as Renegade and Super Dodgeball), then get yourself an NES Classic, or find some emulators, because you, sir or madam, are missing out!

River City Ransom: Underground took Kickstarter by storm back in Sept. 2013 when developer and publisher Conatus Creative Inc. decided to focus on resurrecting the game. It was evident from the success of their campaign, the campaign hit 120% of its goal, that fans of the franchise wanted another installment. Twenty-eight years since the release of River City Ransom, and three and a half years since the successful Kickstarter campaign, the game is finally in the hands of fans around the world. The crew at Conatus Creative put together legendary talent with new blood to create a game that does not disappoint. The director of the almost mythical title Double Dragon, as well as the original creator of Kunio-Kun, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, was brought on as a creative consultant to ensure the title held faithful to the original series.

Many games have tried to emulate these iconic beat-em-up games, but when you think about the genre, few come to mind. These games were fun, challenging, and tested the limits of your patience, but always kept you coming back for another round. Playing River City Ransom: Underground is like smelling the exact recipe of cookies your grandma used to make, bringing back memories of days long past. It captures the spirit of the originals and sprinkles in some good 80’s-early 90’s fun while adding some new flair, characters, and moves for replayability. You’ll spend your time walking by a traffic jam of Volkswagen vans and Deloreans, or beat down a gang of nerds who's leader cracks open the box on his brand new POWER LOADER, which I spent way too much time trying to climb in after defeating him.

I'm not a huge fan of retro games, and apparently, I've gotten soft in my old age.

I spent many hours yelling at my monitor, wanting to chuck my controller across the room in a rage. However, I did this knowing that, the whole time, this is exactly how I spent my childhood, being punished by Abobo in Double Dragon, or the even more troubling crossover Battletoads and Double Dragon, who smashes his way into a cameo in River City Ransom: Underground and with his only Flash game that’s still available, Abobo’s Big Adventure.

As you navigate the unforgiving streets of River City, you’ll play as one of ten characters with completely different fighting styles and unique moves that you can unlock by purchasing them at dojos across the city. As you fight, you’ll begin to level up, increasing the maximum points for each attribute. Just as in the original, these are increased through purchasing items and food, or spending your time in the sauna – side note, that was the first time I’ve seen a naked butt in a video game, and it was no less hilarious in my thirties than when I was seven. Again, staying true to the retro game feel, much of the game isn't readily apparent and requires some trial and error. For example, when you purchase your items, such as a Cali roll from a sushi restaurant, or a hot dog, you won’t know the effect it will have on your attributes, such as increased weapon damage, defense, or stamina. It’s the same way for some gameplay elements, such as events that only trigger at certain points in the day/night cycle - overall, the effect felt largely unnecessary.

The game isn’t a side scroller like the originals but an open environment allowing you to travel back and forth between vendors and dojos. You can even head to one of your hideouts where you will put collectibles and can save your game and change your characters mid game if you so desire. You better enjoy the sight of these hideouts because if you’re playing alone, you’ll spend a lot of time here. Any time you die, you will be sent back to the last hideout you went into with about half the amount of money you’ve picked up, and this will OFTEN happen especially if you play alone. When playing a co-op game which is either local or online even if you die as long as the others reach a zone you will respawn with full health. It’s also incredibly fun playing with others, especially if they’re leveled up because skilled higher level players can juggle enemies and perform some cool combos which make the game all the more entertaining. However, when playing solo, you can’t just fight every group of enemies especially early on until your move lists get better and your health increases.


The Verdict

River City Ransom: Underground is fantastic in how it truly captures the feel of retro games, and it’s clear from the experience that Conatus Creative provides the desire and requisite talent. On top of the original beat-em-up feel, additional features round out the title quite nicely, such as RPG leveling aspects and a fighting engine that packs a punch. The art style, sound, and humor capture the look, feel, and nostalgia of the franchise. Though River City may not have enough to warrant many hours on the game, it’s worth a playthrough, and all but guarantees enjoyment to newcomers and fond memories to franchise veterans.

Joel Hendershott

You merely adopted gaming. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see 64 bits until I was already a man". I've been gaming since the early days, playing everything from commodores and Atari to Current Gen. I'm a flip-flopper of the worst kind, constantly jumping back and forth between consoles and PC. I can play most any games, but RPG's, racing games are my jam. I also enjoy the simulator games far more than any one man should. One day I decided to not just play larger than life characters but attempt to be one myself and jumped into training for Strongman and powerlifting. Now the biggest struggle in my life is do I spend more time on Games or Gains?

Related items

  • Road Redemption Review

    The updated graphics and physics engine are sure to bring enjoyment and laughs. Road Redemption builds on a relatively simple concept that has worked in the past, repackages it, and allows the unpredictability of other players a large selection of tracks, bikes, and riders in online death races to round out a uniquely enjoyable experience.

  • The Walking Vegetables Review

    With many weapons, unlocks, and even co-op play,  The Walking Vegetables has a high chance you will replay it over, and over... and over. It’s a great game all-around, especially if you are interested in a cheap alternative to therapy because your mom forced you to eat her vegetable casserole, even though you told her you hated carrots. The Walking Vegetables takes the best aspects of any top-down shooter, and gives it the 80s-cocaine-treatment that it needed.

  • Taleworlds Explains New Feature Of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

    Every Thursday, TaleWorlds publish a new post tackling things such as why there is no release date for Bannerlod yet, how modding will be or introducing different members of the team and their work. TaleWorlds, developers of the Mount & Blade series, published today a new entry in its Steam dev blog explaining Influence, a new feature of the single-player campaign of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord.

More in this category: Danmaku Unlimited 3 Review »

Latest Indie Reviews

The Indie Scene, Under Review.

Latest on Twitch

Watch it live on twitch.tv/opnoobsonline.

Latest Shows

We Need To Go De…

The OPN interview with Deli Interactive. We Need to Go Deeper is a 2-4-player cooperative submarine roguelike set in a Verne-inspired undersea universe. In the game, you and your c...

Utomik Interview

The OPN interview with Frank Meijer. Utomik is the no-nonsense unlimited play gaming subscription that offers a growing library of games from over 20 leading publishers. Gamers can...

Out Soon

PC Gaming Incoming

Battle Chasers: …

Battle Chasers: Nightwar combines the classic turn-based RPG with action-RPG elements. This fun twist to the traditional RPG divisions enhances gameplay, strategy, and character cu...


Tauronos promises an intriguing story, but since running out of lives forces you to start your journey again from the beginning, few players will have the patience to persevere and...

Solace Crafting …

Solace Crafting may have its glitches, but it is still in the very early stages and has incredible amounts of promise already. It makes a place for itself in the genre, giving a mi...

Pankapu Review

Too Kind Studios set out with very specific goals and they hit every wicket. Pankapu is an action-platformer successfully fused with roleplay elements. Sidescrolling collides with ...