Virtual Console Gems: River City Ransom


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When I first heard of River City Ransom, the description alone blew my mind: It’s an NES beat-em-up that features a somewhat open world where you can improve your stats by eating sushi. That sounds pretty amazing, right? The great thing is: you can get this game right now, since it’s on the Virtual Console on the Wii and the Wii U. But first, let me explain why I really enjoy this game.

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While I never made it all that far, the basic principles of the game are know to me: You fight various gangs on their turfs with a large selection of weapons, collect their money and invest them in food in order to grow your character and make it easier to progress. There are also some special skills you can unlock, if you manage to farm the money necessary for it. They switch up the gameplay fairly nicely and make the tougher sections of the game easier, so it’s well worth it. Even though I don’t like grind in games in general, since I find it to be quite tedious, the fighting is fun enough that it keeps me engaged.

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This is also due to the fact that the fighting system evolves over time: You can throw punches and kicks in order to beat your enemies. Blocking happens automatically and is stat-based. But then there are the weapons and here’s where the real fun lies: While you can use baseball bats and trash cans in order to pummel your enemies, you can also throw the weapons at them quite easily with the press of a button. You can run by double tapping the D-pad, which makes for some fast paced action. My favourite thing is that you can pick up enemies from the ground and use their bodies in order to hit the next guy. They wake up and free themselves eventually, but it’s still amazing and I wonder why not too many other games give you this option. The game is at its best when you play it with another person. Not only is beating up guys together more fun, but you can also pick up the body of your friend in order to hit others. It’s ridiculous, but I find it to be highly entertaining.

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River City Ransom, or Street Gangs as it’s called in Europe, was developed by Technos and released in 1989 in Japan and brought to the US in 1990 and two years later in Europe. It has been available on the Virtual Console since 2008. In 2012 it was even brought to the 3DSes Virtual Console, so you can play this game on the go too! This wouldn’t mark the first time for the title going portable either, as there exists a Remake for the GBA, that was exclusive to Japan and the US. Thankfully, the GBA is not region-locked, so Europeans should be able to enjoy the game none the less.

But what if you want more from the series? Well, thanks for a Kickstarter campaign, a new game is coming soon: “River City Ransom: Underground”. Check out the trailer:


Also coming is a new version of the original for the 3DS!  I guess it’s a good time to check out the game for the first time. If you have already and are still aching for some similar action, you might want to try out the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World game that was released on XBLA and PSN. It feature similar action, is very stylisch and has a killer soundtrack by Anamanaguchi!

5 thoughts on “Virtual Console Gems: River City Ransom

  1. Thanks for covering this gem! I first played River City Ransom on the Virtual Console and loved it. It was like other beat ’em ups on the service, but the chibi characters were cute. I liked the setting and 80s rival gangs theme. I also enjoyed going into shops to heal and learn moves. I’m glad that they’re releasing another Kunio-kun game in the west!


  2. I’m reblogging this, as River City Ransom should be on everyone’s top 25 Nintendo games. ITS JUST SO DAMN GOOD!!
    Many people point out how great Double Dragon was, but the true masterpiece is this game!

    Liked by 1 person

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