River City Ransom

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River City Ransom

River City Ransom - NES - USA.jpg

NES - USA - 1st edition.

Developer Technos
Publisher Technos
Published 1989-04-25
Platforms NES, Sharp X68000, TurboGrafx-CD
Genres Action, Beat 'em up, Metroidvania, Platformer, Role-playing game
Themes Cartoon, Martial Arts
Series River City Ransom
Multiplayer Simultaneous co-op
Distribution Commercial

River City Ransom is a beat 'em up RPG developed and published by Technos for the NES on 1989-04-25, but has since been ported to various other platforms. It uses the style and theme of the Kunio-kun universe. A Game Boy Advance remaster was also made called River City Ransom EX

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.


Own?Yes. Loose US NES cartridge.
Won?Yes. Maxed out character.
FinishedEarly 1990s.

My mother bought us River City Ransom along with Dragon Warrior from a garage sale somewhere in the early 1990s. I enjoyed both games, but I like River City Ransom more. One day I set about buying every item in the game and writing down the stats. In the process, I maxed out all of the stats of my character.


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6 6 7 6 7

Best Version: CD-ROM²

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The game very nice visual art. The character design by Masao Shiroto is has silly cartoon faces and the backgrounds are very colorful. They're given a higher color depth makeover in the CD-ROM² port.
  • The music by Kazuo Sawa is quite nice and fitting. The mall has elevator music, the factory is industrial sounding, the boss themes are intense, and the normal street music is a nice backdrop. Speech is added in the CD-ROM² port.
  • Player controls are responsive and fluid. Much better than most beat-em-ups of the time.
  • The various moves you can learn really make the game more interesting as you go.
  • There are a lot of 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 the other player.
  • The animation in shops is hilarious, and there are tons of items to buy.
  • The things gang members say are hilarious. BARF!
  • The hidden shop under the bridge is a nice 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.
  • The nod to Double Dragon is good for a laugh.
  • The ending has a hilarious line, "The gangs returned to class and became honor students." See? If you want your child to get good grades, all you have to do is beat the crap out of them!


  • 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 location 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.
  • Because there are so many stats and inventory possibilities, the password is insanely long!
  • The the stairs are setup in River City High makes it easy to bypass most of the rival gangs.


  • The game is very monotonous. You have to do a lot of grinding to be able to afford the power-ups and stat-increases you'll need to defeat the later bosses.


Box Art




Fan Art


Angry Video Game Nerd.
Debug password.
Longplay - CD-ROM².
Longplay - Famicom.
Longplay - NES - Europe.
Longplay - NES - USA.
Longplay - Sharp X68000.

Play Online

Famicom, NES


Strong female character?FailThe female characters are merely plot devices.
Bechdel test?FailWomen never talk to each other.
Strong person of color character?PassIn the Japanese version, the heroes are Japanese. In the Western version, everyone is white.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


Role Staff
Programmer Atsushi Tanimoto (Tommy. Tani), Shintaro Kumagai (S. Kuma), Genei Fukuhara (F. Gen), Shin
Character Design Masao Shiroto (M. Shiroto)
Background Design Misa Yazaki (M. Yazaki), Kazuyo Togo
Music and Sound Effects Kazuo Sawa (K. Sawa)
Sound Programmer Michiya Hirasawa (M. Hirasawa)
Manual Kumiko Mukai (K. Mukai)
Directors Hiroyuki Sekimoto (H. Sekimoto), Mitsuhiro Yoshida (M. Yoshida), W. S. Little


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English (Europe) Street Gangs
English (USA) River City Ransom
Japanese ダウンタウン熱血物語 Dauntaun Nekketsu Monogatari Downtown Hot-Blooded Story


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