Charm Offensive: River City Ransom Kickstarter

I love Pho
QAOPSPACEBAR. That’s my youth. Five buttons. It all just came flooding back: hours spent hunched over my Spectrum playing Target: Renegade. The scrapey hit sounds, the malevolent drift of the motorbike riders, the axe-wielding bald guys. I’d forgotten about it until reading about the River City Ransom: Underground Kickstarter, an officially licensed follow-up to Technōs Japan’s NES era side-scrolling brawler River City Ransom. The pitch for the Kickstarter is below, as well as an explanation to why it made me nostalgic for a completely different game.

River City Ransom is one of the cuter beat ’em ups of that era. The squat, square little brawler you controlled would beat barfing enemies with chains and buy tougher feet from shops. I miss the days when things didn’t need to make sense. What will the update bring? Developer Conatus Creative says:

We’re making River City bigger, adding more stores, items, and bringing the cast and crew into the modern era. You’ll reunite with old friends (and punch them in the face), meet new ones, and play through an epic story in an urban, open world. Yes, the game will feature local co-op play, and online co-op depending on our distribution partners on launch day.

We’ve evolved combat based on the mechanics of the golden age of console fighting, and we’re pushing to get sophisticated, crafty opponent AI into the game. You’re not safe standing on your bench anymore!

So not only does it look like a love-letter to the age of sprites ‘n’ scrolling, but it made me realise that two of my favourite games had a deeper connection than I knew. Both games shared a daddy in Renegade. Target: Renegade was made by Ocean, who licensed the original Renegade for home machines and were given the license to carry on making Renegades. Technōs Japan, the original developers of Renegade, took the format in a different direction, and made Double Dragon and River City Ransom.


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Both the Renegade games were excellent, I actually prefer the first for the grittier visuals and superb music. Still play them now and then on a speccy emulator.

    We shall never speak of the 3rd game.

  2. gigafinger says:

    This was one of my favorite NES games. Not sure how to feel about the nostalgia remake stuff. Duck Tales was just remastered, too.

    • Amstrad says:

      This isn’t a remake though, it’s a straight up sequel set 25 years after the original game. Which is infinitely better in my opinion than just rehashing the original game with updated graphics.

  3. aliksy says:

    I used to play this a lot, but after I considered using a spreadsheet to figure out the best stat gains per effort I sort of killed my own interest.

  4. Solidstate89 says:

    Oh. My. Your God. One of my all-time favorite games. Me and my buddy spent so much time playing this on my NES. Probably the first game I ever played where I learned how much fun it is to “grief” your ally. If I hadn’t already used up all of my “backing” cash on Star Citizen, I’d be throwing all of my money at them.

    However, I never could beat the original. We’d always get to the entrance to the high school and get stuck – never having a clue as to how to get in.

    • Skabooga says:

      You have to search around all the areas and defeat every boss. And a boss will only appear if the previous one in the sequence has been defeated, so as so often happened to me as well, I skipped/didn’t find one of the bosses in the park, so I never encountered any other bosses and had no idea why the door wasn’t opening for me either, until I went back 10 years later and played it again.

      • Yglorba says:

        You also have to backtrack for one of them. There’s a hint in the dialog, but it’s a blink-and-you-miss-it thing.

  5. Enkinan says:

    Nice. I had so much fun co-op with the original, one of my fondest NES games ever, which is pretty impressive.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Yep, definitely one of my favourite NES games of my childhood. I played lots of Double Dragon, but the River City Ransom always stood out as my favourite beat’em’up… I had no idea they were from the same developers although it makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.

      • Yglorba says:

        If you didn’t hear, there was a Japan-only sequel to River City Ransom that was fan-translated as Technos Samurai: Downtown Special.

        Search for it and give it a shot in an emulator. So much fun.

  6. forddent says:

    Normally I would be really excited about this game, but they I’ve already got a great River City Ransom clone, and it is the Scott Pilgrim video game.

    I’m still KINDA excited, just not as excited as I would be otherwise.

  7. Wedge says:

    The level of physics and environmental interaction RCR had was waaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of it’s time for an NES game. If nothing else, they seem to have a good understanding of that, so I’m certainly keeping my eye on this.

  8. Monkeh says:

    Those animations look freaking fantastic! o_0

  9. MOKKA says:

    Me and my brother found the original NES Game in a bargain bin. Some of my fondest memories come from playing this game in co-op on a lazy saturday morning. It was quite hard for us, since the game was in english an we didn’t understood a single word of english back then. Especially the backtracking was confusing as hell.

    I really hope this thing gets funded as it looks pretty impressive (the animations are amazing).

  10. Skabooga says:

    If there is one thing River City Ransom taught me, honor comes with a high price, but a smile is always free.

    • Baines says:

      The important lesson that River City Ransom taught is that you can knock a boss into an open pit while he is still monologuing. (But you won’t get his money drop if you kill him that way.)

  11. Mac_Phisted says:

    I backed this up.
    For two years I refused to back anything as I didn’t fully agree to the concept. But this made me cross the line…
    River City Ransom represents a BIG part of our childhood with my sister.

  12. Allenomura says:

    I was pleased to see that they have arranged for the original Kunio-Kun creator to be their creative consultant – update 7 – and, it’s a nice touch that they have offered Kunio and Riki character skins for the new brawlers, Alex and Ryan to qualifying backers (although, they also confirmed that the two would be available in some way to obtain through the game, so they’re not gating them off indefinitely). I really enjoyed Double Dragon when I was a child. So I am eager to see this project succeed.

  13. mwoody says:

    The genesis of many a year of co-op for my brother and I. Backed this so fast my bank account is spinning.

    I wonder if they’ll have a park halfway through the game, too? Where you can try to play baseball with a rock and a bat? Which will inevitably go predictably, horribly wrong and end in an all-out brawl and halting any forward process?

    • conatuscreative says:

      We’ll build around the core of River City, so expect nods to the original environments including what made them great.

  14. Rapzid says:

    Ah the good old days! When you could come to somebodies aid with your fists without fear of being labeled with unsavoury tropes. Can’t wait :D

  15. gruia says:

    come on guys, this needs more love