River City Ransom – A Beat ‘Em Up Retrospective

Picture yourself playing Double Dragon in an open world concept. By open world I mean a non-linear map layout littered with invisible walls. And by non- linear I mean fairly linear. I’m talking about an NES game after all so I’m not really complaining. As a beat ’em up it has a lot of upside. After all the game lets us to keep a baseball bat from start to finish.

In fact there are only a couple ways to lose your weapon. You can drop it and watch as it bounces off screen or you can run into an invisible wall within a safe zone and be unable to pick it back up. Why? Because the game doesn’t allow it. But don’t sweat it too much. There are plenty of objects around to hit your enemies with.rcr1

In River City Ransom it’s possible to eat a baker’s dozen of donuts and get a boost in ‘willpower’ instead of body fat. And I think once I reached that point of the game I started to feel like I had the hang of it. The game’s famous RPG elements works like this. You don’t gain experience points for kills or accomplishments like in a normal game, or real life. Instead you beat up dudes around town and take their cash. And then use the money to buy food. Because eating the food will boost your stats, making it easier to take more people’s lunch money. And that’s the game in a nutshell. Eat food, get strong. Then finish the game.

There are a lot of good ideas in this game and virtually nothing annoyed me while playing it through. The menu navigation is tedious and invisible walls always suck. But I was charmed enough to let those issues slide. If an enemy was too tough and I felt stuck, I just ate more french fries until I could punch him senseless.

This game stands out among the 8 bit beat ’em ups for me because it wasn’t originally designed to eat quarters. Meaning you won’t constantly be dying in this one. Well, just as long as you remember to eat your donuts.rcr2

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