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Kids, if there's one thing you take away from River City Ransom, may it be that violence is the answer to your problems. If you beat a gang member hard enough, he will become an honor student. And if you beat an honor student hard enough, he will give you his lunch money. And the final moral is: it's all about good grades and trips to the mall.
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River City Ransom, released in Japan as Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (part of the Kunio-kun series, which also included the Super Dodge Ball series, Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge, and the original Renegade) and in Europe as Street Gangs, is a Beat'Em Up with elements of a Role-Playing Game. The story goes that Ryan's girlfriend gets kidnapped by River City High's top gang leader, Slick, who also happens to be the arch-rival of Cross Town High's top punk, Alex. So Alex and Ryan fight their way past gang territories and various malls to get to River City High, take down Slick, and rescue Ryan's girlfriend.

While not the most well-known game on the Nintendo Entertainment System, it was well received by those who did play it. It offered several different ways to customize your character, was one of the earliest games to blend RPG elements into another genre in a successful fashion, and was noted for its humor in many spots.

Has a Japan only sequel Downtown Special: Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki Dayo Zen'in Shūgō!, which takes place is historical Japan and is less linear, has a proper save system in place of the original's long passwords, allows computer controlled allies in a 1 player game and has a great deal more moves, but replaces the classic "eat food for power" with equipping items and a level up system, restricting food to health regeneration. Also has a sequel by the original developers coming in the summer for consoles (Wii, possibly others) and 2012 for PCs (for Japan at least).

A remake, River City Ransom EX, came out in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance, which added more moves, more gangs, more weapons, more characters (some of them from later Downtown Nekketsu games), and the option to have up to three allies fighting alongside you. However, it lacked a proper 2-player co-op mode and while the English version featured an Americanized script like its NES counterpart, the characters were still drawn with their Japanese school uniforms.

On Feburary 27, 2017, an official sequel to the original game was released on Steam called River City Ransom: Underground.


Tropes used in River City Ransom include:
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: See (US) for (Japan) yourself. (Europe)
    • And then the GBA rerelease reuses the US NES version's pose coupled with an anime-esque style, effectively combining the US and Japanese versions. Click!
  • Anti-Villain: Roxy supports Alex and Ryan despite being Slick's girlfriend.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: On the enemy gang members. 9 in the NES version and up to 20 in the GBA version.
  • Batter Up
  • Behind the Black: In order for the screen to scroll in the NES version, you have to be ridiculously close to its edge. This leaves you open to sudden, unexpected attacks from enemies that were standing just offscreen.
  • Bonus Boss: Benny and Clyde are the only bosses the player are not required to defeat to access River City High School. Once inside, Tex can be skipped too, since only Otis and the Dragon Twins are needed to be defeated to access the final boss.
  • Boss Banter: Though in text rather than spoken dialog, the bosses all had a lot to say during their fights.
  • Bottomless Pits
  • Broken Pedestal: Slick is Simon, Alex's childhood friend.
  • Carry a Big Stick: The stick weapon.
  • Chain Pain: The game definitely has chains useable as weapons.
  • Chez Restaurant: Chez Walle's.
  • Creepy Twins: Penultimate bosses Randy and Andy.
  • Cultural Translation: All the Kunio games that were localized for the international market were Americanized in some form or another. River City Ransom did so by replacing the characters' gakurans with jeans and shirts. The GBA remake reverts back to gakurans, but keeps the anglicized character names.
    • Averted with Super Dodgeball Brawlers for the DS, the only game besides the Neo-Geo version of Super Dodge Ball, where Kunio and Riki were still called Kunio and Riki outside Japan.
    • Also averted by Aksys Games' most recent Kunio-kun localizations on the DS, River City Soccer Hooligans and River City Super Sports Challenge, which keep the River City "brand" for the sake of consistency and brand recognition, but also keep the names Kunio and Riki. That pair's names have changed so many times in so many localized games that it's nice to see some consistency for once.
  • Cutscene: Subverted, as a boss will start to monologue when they first appear, but you can attack them during this (and they have dialogue that only appears if you do attack them early).
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Losing all your stamina simply results in you waking up a the nearest mall, minus a chunk of your money.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Applies to the Zombies, Generic Dudes and somewhat to Ivan in the GBA version. Subverted with Thor, who is more a Noble Demon.
    • Ivan will fight on your side as long as you complete the side-quest, even if you don't allow team mates via option. When you hit the top floor, he's facing off with the Dragon Twins just as you show up and counts as a team mate -- although once they're defeated, he leaves.
    • Even if you have a FULL PARTY, complete his quest, and Ivan will still show up here and temporarily join your team.
    • The Generic Dudes require Ryan to be absent because his school rivals theirs -- but then you have the ENTIRE 20 PERSON GANG of the Generic Dudes following you around, 3 at a time. When defeated, they're gone for good -- except for their leader, Conan.
  • Determinator: In the original NES version, no matter how much an enemy wails on your limp, prone body (and the Dragon Twins will certainly do that) as long as you have at least 15 Willpower remaining, you will rise to your feet. Each get-up requires another 15 Willpower, but that's all you need in order to heal while in a position to defend yourself back into fighting shape.
    • On Hard mode, this also applies to the mook gang leader - always has the same face, and has 15 Willpower and will get up one more time no matter how much you beat him down.
    • In the GBA version, Willpower is applied more like Heroic Spirit as if you run out of energy, the game automatically converts your Willpower to your stamina as required. You're not done until you're out of Willpower (applies to enemies too).
  • Difficulty by Region: The Famicom version has three difficulty levels: Easy, Normal and Hard. The Easy setting was removed in the NES version, while Normal and Hard were renamed Novice and Expert respectively. The NES version also removed the option to disable friendly fire in the 2-Player mode.
  • Dub Name Change: See article for a full list (which does not include gangs and towns).
  • Enemy Chatter: Lots of it, such as "*BARF* !" (or in the case of EX's Homeboys, "Biz-ARF!").
  • Excuse Plot: "I hold your city captive & Ryan’s girlfriend hostage. With my gangs of Students & evil bosses, nobody can stop me now. Meet my demands – or else!… P.S. Alex & Ryan if you interfere, you’ll be in for the fight of your lives!"... Yeah, that's all the plot you'll get. Now go kick the crap out of them all until they cry like little girls.
    • Please note there are no demands listed. No wonder you're kicking his ass, you have no option otherwise!
  • Expy: Randy and Andy, the Dragon Twins, are based on Billy and Jimmy of Double Dragon fame, complete with their Leitmotif. They even get Billy and Jimmy's shifty eyes from the NES version (¬_¬). In the GBA version, their hair colors were even changed to match Billy's and Jimmy's.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Your characters will down whatever meal they ordered in one gulp. For extra fun, try dining in at a Merv Burger and ordering a drink. Yep, they'll eat it, glass and all.
    • Or in the original version, try dining in at the KFC expy and ordering gravy. The game even tells you they just drink a bowl of gravy, STRAIGHT. Never mind the fact that the characters swallow the thing whole, bowl and all.
    • Every item (other than books that teach you new techniques) raises your stats. Yes, this includes CDs, books, toys... You can only use them once. The game doesn't specify that your characters are eating them, but considering the above points, you can't put it past them.
  • Fastball Special: With the help of the Javelin Man technique.
  • Four Is Death: The Zombies (in the Japanese version, they're named The Four Heavenly Kings of Reihō).
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason for Slick kidnapping Alex's girlfriend and taking over the whole city? He's actually Simon, Alex's childhood friend. He got tired of being seen as a weakling and second fiddle compared to Alex and wanted to prove he could kick his ass. Even after getting a beat down, he still swears revenge for next time they meet.
  • Gang of Hats: All of them.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Near the end of the game, you can go into a sauna and see the characters' boxy buttocks.
    • Of course, in Japan, nudity in bathing doesn't violate modesty laws, but in America, one must wonder why it wasn't changed.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Not just with enemies, mind you, but you can use your own teammate as a battering ram.
  • Happily Ever After: Really? All the gang members went back to school and became honor students?
  • Heel Face Turn: In the GBA version, you can recruit some of the bosses to your side after beating them. In a few cases, you might get them to join without a fight.
    • Riki (Ryan's Japanese counterpart) himself is an example of this trope. Riki was originally Kunio's (Alex) rival in the original Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (the Japanese version of Renegade), where he was the first boss in that game. Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari takes place months after the original Kunio-kun according to the manual, which is why Ryan is unfriendly towards Alex in the opening of the GBA version.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Tex and Ivan are hinted to be this. Tex refuses to fight you if he finds out Ivan has made a Heel Face Turn. Actually, he has a crush on Ivan's sister, Abby. Both Ivan and Tex will also fight you simultaneously under certain conditions.
  • Hot-Blooded: It's part of the Japanese version's title.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: In addition to having the standard Easy, Normal and Hard modes, the GBA version has a Wussy setting and a Crazy setting too.
  • I Have Your Sister: Implied with Ivan, which could explain why he serves as the main gate's guard.
  • Improvised Weapon: You can hit people with rocks, trash cans and tires.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here
  • Jekyll and Hyde: It's possible (without cheats, even!) to create a copy of Slick. Now, play a solo game (max 1 person party) with both characters as Slick. Rename one Simon. Fight Club ensues.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Ivan Popov in the GBA remake has a score to settle with the Dragon Twins for getting too close to his sister, Abby.
  • Lighter and Softer: This is quite possibly the least brutal Beat'Em Up ever made: no one gets killed, none of your rivals are especially evil, most don't even work for the Big Bad, and all of them -- yes, we said all -- go back to school and earn top honors after you beat the final boss. That said, it's still one of the most esteemed games in its genre, and deservedly so.
  • Mirror Match: In the GBA remake only.
  • Money Spider: Justified in part by only fighting human opponents - but isn't it strange how every member of a gang always has the same change in their pockets?
    • When you consider everything else about the gangs, no, not really.
  • The Movie:River City Rumble, a fan-made tribute movie made by X-Strike Studios. Still better than half of the game-based movies out there.
  • Nakama: A feature added to the Game Boy Advance version, defeated bosses could follow you around and fight on your side. Most of the time it required a high reputation (an invisible stat the game keeps track), but sometimes it required talking to certain characters or choosing not to play with both Alex and Ryan. The best examples are the Zombies and the Generic Dudes, because none of them really wanted to work for Slick or Thor.
    • Tex is an especially good example. If you have his friend Ivan (he also has a thing for Ivan's sister) with you, he will refuse to fight you even if your reputation has fallen. If you completed the Ivan side quest, he will ask if Ivan left the gang, and you confirm it, he leaves too. If you have a good reputation and Ivan, he will join you.
    • The mooks even get this; Otis will team up with the Dragon Twins under certain circumstances, and Slick will call in the three of them if your party is too large.
  • Power Fist: The brass knuckles.
  • Respect the Pipe: You can pick up and use a pipe in this game. It's basically a harder-hitting version of the stick weapon.
  • The Rival: In the original Japanese version, Kunio and Riki are rivals who team up against a common enemy and become Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Save Game Limits: The original's passwords and the EX save only keep track of your stats. You start from the beginning every time (granted, enough passwords/saves and you'll be able to blitz to Slick, at which point you need the stats).
  • Say It with Hearts: Quite a bit in the remake, and parodied when you fight both Tex and Ivan together (your Karma Meter must be at its lowest for this boss fight).
  • Shout-Out: The music from Double Dragon plays during the fight against the twins, and one gang's members are named after classic television characters. The GBA remake takes this further; members of many gangs are named after things such as webcomic artists, rappers and even the cast of Disgaea.
    • A recursive shout out: two members of the Japanese gang in the GBA remake are named Kunio and Riki.
    • A lot of people who dislike Megatokyo cackled with giddy delight after beating two gang members named Piro and Largo with trash cans.
      • Or smacking around Cloud, Duo and Yaoi. From a gang called "The Plague", no less.
    • There's also an odd sort of shout-out to Crash n' the Boyz, where an optional team mate will basically tell Alex that "Crash and the Boyz are rooting for you"... despite the fact that Crash is just that game's version of Kunio.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: To the point that the next boss won't even appear at his turf until the previous boss or bosses are defeated.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Falling into water during the Benny and Clyde fight instantly kills you, regardless of how much stamina you had.
    • Averted in the GBA version, due to the fact that the river pitfall was removed in the first area where Benny and Clyde are fought.
    • Also averted in Downtown Special. There are many areas with lakes and rivers, and your character and enemies can swim just fine. There's even an option to adjust the speed of water currents.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted. You can start beating on the gang leaders while they're introducing themselves. It hurts your reputation in the GBA remake though.
  • Theme Naming: Each gang has its own theme, be it the Italian-themed Mob or the cornpone-loving Cowboys.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Benny and Clyde, recurring bosses who fight Alex and Ryan despite not being in any gang or related to the plot at all.
  • Unwinnable: While it isn't likely to happen accidentally, in multiplayer, if an Javelin Man equipped player throws the other to the right in the first Benny and Clyde fight, they fly off into infinity and the game can't proceed.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Seanbaby put it best: "Kids, if there's one thing you take away from River City Ransom, may it be that violence is the answer to your problems. If you beat a gang member hard enough, he will become an honor student. And if you beat an honor student hard enough, he will give you his lunch money. And the final moral is: it's all about good grades and trips to the mall."
  • Weapon of Choice: Along with the names and colors, many gangs also have favored weapons they'll bring to the fight.
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