River City Ransom
River City Ransom is like a mix between a beat-em-up and an RPG enough that I feel it can safely be called a Metroidvania game. It was originally released on the NES by Technos in 1989, but has since been ported to various other platforms.
In the game's story, you play a student at Cross Town High, but gang members from River City High have kidnapped your girlfriend. In order to get her back, you must fight your way through the turf of various other gangs, beat up their leaders, and finally infiltrate River City High. In order to become powerful enough beat the rival gangs, you must beat up weaker gangs, steal their money, and buy food and training to increase your stats.
My mother bought us River City Ransom along with Dragon Warrior from a garage sale somewhere in the early 1990s. I really enjoyed both games.
I've beaten River City Ransom on the NES, maxed out a character, and hand-wrote out the results of every item in the game.
- The game has nice colorful cartoon graphics and good music.
- Player controls are responsive and fluid.
- The various moves you can learn really make the game more interesting as you go.
- There are a lot of interesting weapons to use, and you can use them in various ways. In addition to being able to swing and throw each weapon, you can also kick crates and trash cans, roll tires, and even use fallen foes as weapons. These are really cool additions!
- Two-player simultaneous play really adds to the enjoyment of the game, and I like that you can "accidentally" beat up your friends.
- The animation in shops is hilarious, and there are tons of items to buy.
- The things gang members say are hilarious.
- The shop under the bridge is a nice hidden bonus.
- I like that you can turn off and on special moves after you learn them so you can go back to doing older-style moves if you want.
- It's pretty much impossible to guess what type of stat bonuses you'll get from items, and the manual doesn't list them, so you're forced to buy every single one to find out.
- There seems to be a bug with the Frat Boys. They are much more powerful than their place and money reward suggests. They should be placed around the Homeboys and the Mob rather than down by the Generic Dudes.
- The Javelin Man and Fatal Footsteps moves are not very useful.
- There are only two female characters in the game, and they're not even animated. Slick's girlfriend warns you to train hard, your own girlfriend whom you rescue is a stereotype only interested in shopping.
- The game is very monotonous. You have to do a lot of grinding to afford all the power-ups you'll need to become strong enough to defeat the later bosses. A larger map could have helped a little.
- mobygames.com/game/nes/river-city-ransom - MobyGames.
- gamefaqs.com/nes/563453-river-city-ransom - GameFAQs.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_City_Ransom - Wikipedia.
- gamesdatabase.org/Media/SYSTEM/Nintendo_NES/manual/Formated/River_City_Ransom_-_1990_-_Technos.pdf - Manual.
- River City Ransom - Nintendo Power.jpg
A Nintendo Power excerpt.