I was perusing Amazon a few months ago when something caught my eye in the Nintendo 3DS section of the website. It was a new River City Ransom game, River City Ransom: Tokyo Rumble (technically not new as it had been available for almost a year) and also another one, Rival Showdown, that was available for preorder! I was instantly transported back to my childhood as I fumbled wildly for my debit card.
I still fondly remember walking with my dad every Saturday morning to the video rental store down the street from my house when I was 10 years old. Besides the armful of horror movies he would rent for himself and the few Godzilla movies we would watch over and over again (All VHS, I’m old, kids), we would always go to the NES section and pick out a game for us to play together. Usually he would pick out a sports game like Bases Loaded or Blades of Steel but I remember one Saturday he pointed out River City Ransom and asked if I would want to try it. I wholeheartedly agreed. As much fun as sports games are they had become repetitive and I always had my eye on Double Dragon, and well, this game looked a lot like Double Dragon which unfortunately was always rented out.
Now usually when you ask someone which was the first game that converted them into a gamer, you will hear the typical responses of “Super Mario Brothers, Pacman, Contra,..etc. For me, River City Ransom was that game. It was the first game where I didn’t want to stop playing. Even after we would get tuned up, there was no frustration, no rage quitting, we just kept grinding away, earning money to buy books to obtain special moves in order to get farther next time. We adopted the old ridiculous 2 player beat ‘em up strategy of “I’ll take the top of the screen and you stay on the bottom so we don’t hit each other.” Inevitably this would lead to us running around the screen like maniacs completely disregarding our “strategy”. Well, me more so than him.
I vividly remember one such instance of this happening. It was actually near the beginning of the game, we were fighting one of the street gangs and were outnumbered 5-2. My dad, at the top of the screen, was basically a punching bag as 3 of the baddies surrounded him, I knocked out the 2 guys who focused their attention on me and grabbed a tire that one had dropped. For once I felt like I was better than my dad at a game! Every game that we played, my dad would be better than me, which, in hindsight would make sense since he was 32 at the time. But in my little 10 year old pea brain, it was my time to shine! I was going to be the hero! I boldly walked into forbidden grounds (A.K.A the top part of the screen, A.K.A dad’s territory, A.K.A the scene of my greatest victory) and threw the tire into the crowd…completely flattening my dad’s character as the 2 enemies who were now left turned their attention to me and had juuuuust got out of the way. I felt my little face flush and I tried to redeem myself by laying a beating down on their pixelated faces. When it was over, I remember just seeing my dad’s character just stand there, completely still. I slowly turned my head to look at my dad who was just staring at me with amazement. I had done it. I was the man at River City Ransom. The young wolf was now the leader of the pack. I waited for the compliments to rain down on me with a little smile of pride on my face. Instead:
“Where’s your guy right now?”
“Uh..top of the screen..?”
“Where’s it supposed to be?”
“Uh..bottom of the screen..?”
“Oh! Good! You aren’t deaf…
So after reaffirming that I did in fact know that I belonged on the bottom of the screen, we picked up our controllers and started again.
The same tire completely waffled me as my dad started chuckling to himself. At this point this particular session of River City Ransom turned into Street Fighter as we decided to duke it out.
We actually never beat the game. We came close a few times. We rented and re-rented that cartridge so many times I lost count but it just never happened. We were fortunate that everyone was still enamored with the Double Dragon titles leaving R.C.R always available to us on our weekly trips to the video store. To me, it’s more than a game, it was time well spent with my dad, trash talking the 8 bit thugs, hashing out who should pick up what weapon, and of course who belongs where on the frickin’ screen. It also sparked my love for video games which has lasted, and will last, for my entire life.
So how do these 3DS games stack up? Well, both have the same RPG elements which made the original so great, as well as tons of cool special moves to buy and learn, secret shops to find, and of course the ridiculously fun punching of pixelated faces. In my opinion, Tokyo Rumble is the better of the two as it sticks more closely to the original in terms of mechanics. That said, I’m also enjoying Rival Showdown, which introduces a time mechanic which can change the ending of the game, unlocks special moves, and events that only happen at a certain time and location. There is more interaction with NPCs that also triggers events and fights. To me the difficulty of Rival Showdown is definitely not as beginner friendly as the previous titles, (even on beginner). Here are a couple of tips:
-Don’t be afraid to run if you’re getting absolutely destroyed.
-That 3 day time limit caught me off-guard, but in reality the game isn’t over if you don’t beat it within the time limit. As I mentioned above, the clock is used to trigger events. The 3 day limit is for the “best” ending.
-If you’re fighting an opponent and your kicks and punches are only doing “1” damage, run. It means that their defense is higher than your attack and you should work on leveling up, find some other easier opponents to beat on and grind levels.
Tokyo Rumble is much more linear when compared to Rival Showdown, so while there is a small amount of grinding needed to level up, you are in pretty good shape as the game progresses and the difficulty is not frustrating but not too easy either. You also get CPU controlled helpers that fight alongside of you which makes some of the boss fights much easier. I beat this game in about 5 hours, so while it’s on the short side it’s really fun and there are side missions that you can take on to earn money and special items. All said it’s definitely worth the $15 price tag.
I recommend getting both games if you’re a beat ‘em up fan, the RPG mechanics make the games more interesting than other games of the same genre. While it’s a lot of punching/kicking/waffling enemies with various objects, it’s fun to earn coins to buy special moves books and equipment to increase the strength of your character. Also both games come with mini games; Tokyo Rumble comes with a dodgeball game and Rival Showdown comes with a fighting game, both of which are really fun to play. Check ‘em out and let us know what you think. Also, pertaining to the question posed early on in the article, which game solidified your love for gaming? I’m curious if there are any ones that fell under the radar of most people. As always, thanks for reading!