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River City Ransom: Underground Review

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To appreciate River City Ransom: Underground it’s probably best you know about its predecessor, River City Ransom, which is a beloved NES title with a cult following.  A Western-localized version of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari from Japan, Technos created a long-running series known best as “Kunio-kun” titles given that the lead, Kunio, appears in every game.  River City Ransom was the only action brawler in the series to make its way to the States and fans have been pining for another game in the series since the original premiered in 1990.  Since then Technos Japan has closed, been reborn as Million, and while Japan has received consistent releases over the past two decades there’s been almost nothing to show for it in the West.  That’s when Canadian-based developer Conatus Creative decided to acquire the rights to make a River City Ransom follow-up.  The result has finally arrived with River City Ransom: Underground proving that it is possible to make a sequel to a 20-year-old game and do a great job at it.  Those who remember playing the original alone or with a friend on the couch will be in for a treat, but if you’re hoping to utilize modern online gaming, this title is still a work in progress.

river_city_ransom_underground_1From start to finish the mechanics of River City Ransom: Underground are spot on.  The game acts as a direct sequel to the original and has an appropriate prologue set on re-establishing the two leads, Alex and Ryan, as they confront and defeat Slick on the school rooftop.  It’s much akin to the Dracula fight at the beginning of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that re-hashes the battle from the end of Rondo of Blood.  Upon jumping into the present you are greeted with four new protagonists, each one with a distinct fighting style, and off you go.  You’re either a fan of the brawler genre – namely RenegadeDouble Dragon, and of course River City Ransom – or you’re not, which only bears mentioning because Underground is cut from that cloth.  Any criticism weighed against the genre applies to Underground as well, but beyond those caveats I must admit the single player campaign really has none.  It’s an ideal follow-up.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 6, 2017 at 11:00 am