Solid, mindless fun
There are strangely some RPG elements to River City Ransom. This will especially be evident when you go into towns and buy food (or some other strange item…). For example, if you go into a seafod restaurant, after you buy salmon, it will immediately give you + points in a certain areas relating to strength and the ability to evade. You can even store some items and use it during the battle, just like in Final Fantasy.
But that is where the similarities to Final Fantasy end. River City Ransom is almost like the comical version of Streets of Rage. That’s not saying this game isn’t any good, but what I mean is that River City Ransom feels like a satire. The storyline is very cheesy, a girlfriend gets kidnapped and the two main characters, Ryan and Alex, have to go save her from the local gangs. The expressions on the characters’ faces during the fighting are priceless. Everything you see and read in this game feels like a bad comic book, but you know that it’s so bad, that it becomes good in a sense.
The overall visuals aren’t important in this game, although they are decent for the era this came out in. The music is good, and the boss music especially fits the game well. Unfortunately, the controls can be frustrating at times, and once in a while I felt like the collision detection was off. Also, some people might curse after running into one too many invisible walls…But strangely enough, those flaws can be forgiven. If you are playing this game with a friend, it’s total FUN. I personally played River City Ransom for three hours with a friend, and we got all the way to the last area, the high school where the local gangs were holding the girlfriend. But we realized we skipped all the bosses, so we couldn’t enter the last stage yet. So we had the backtrack throughout the whole game to make sure we got all the bosses, and then go back to the last part, and I probably can’t explain fully why that would make this game fun, but it was.
Although the enemies in River City Ransom can be difficult, the fact that when one person dies, the other player can just switch to the previous or next screen and have the other dead player magically reappear, makes this game almost impossible to lose. If both players lose all health, then you have to start from the last town entered, but if you make a system where you die on purpose when low on health and have your partner switch to another screen so that your full health is restored, then the game doesn’t seem so hard.
This is worth 500 points. But try to play with a friend, as the satire this game is composed of becomes much better. Also, try not to be disappointed by the cheesy ending. If you want to know what I am talking about, look up the ending on YouTube.