River City Ransom (NES)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,


I've mentioned it before, a long time ago, that I'm not exactly steeped in the Nintendo lore. So there are tons of games ripe for exploration, enjoyment and blogging. That said, it can be hard to stick a pin, as it were, and decide on what to play, so recommendations are always welcome.

One game that I've heard talked about as a bit of a must-play is River City Ransom. That's all I could remember about it prior to today... I didn't know what it was about, what you had to do or anything. What better way to find out than to just dive right in?


Barf? I must have hit him really hard!

I was pleasantly surprised, at first, to find a game that was not unlike Double Dragon or Renegade (it felt a little more like Renegade to me). And, in fact, research showed that this was the third entry in a series that started with... Renegade. Damn, I'm good! And if you haven't heard of River City Ransom and live outside the US, well, it was known as Street Gangs in other territories. Isn't the internet wonderful?

River City Ransom is another in the long line of videogame tales that see your useless girlfriend captured and imprisoned and in need of rescue. One of these days, someone is going to program a game where that happens and the hero just says, "Ahhh, fuck it" and goes out and gets another girlfriend. That would be pretty subversive. Until it happens though, we chivalrous (in-game) fellas will keep on putting our lives on the line, battling past innumerable hordes of bad guys for the honour of our girls.


Oh man, I could murder a decent cuppa (and about a thousand goons).

The game features a number of inner-city locales to batter your way through, including parks, building sites, tunnels and buildings, and each of these locales is the turf of one of the many gangs that are featured. It's not quite The Warriors... each gang is determined only by the colour of their shirts... but it still adds a welcome sense of scope to proceedings.

Also featured in the game are high street shopping areas. In these, a number of shops can be visited and their goods purchased. These goods will go towards increasing your character's stats, be it through the eating of food or drinking of beverages (which will replenish lost stamina and energy as well as increasing maximum levels). You can also buy books which, when read, add extra moves to your character's moveset. This is a pretty cool touch, actually.


They what> The bastards! But I... I... trusted them!

One thing I noticed, bearing in mind that this is the first time I've ever played this game... River City Ransom has obviously been a massive influence on the whole Scott Pilgrim vs The World phenomenon. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the recent downloadable Scott Pilgrim game is almost a carbon copy of River City Ransom. I was amazed at how similar they are... I played Scott Pilgrim on the 360 when it was released, but not having been a NES owner, I didn't realise the extent to which it had been an influence. I suppose it's the sincerest form of flattery, especially as the Scott Pilgrim game was done so well and so lovingly.

River City Ransom is a good game, although its limitations can become a little wearying after extended play. You're only ever attacked by two enemies at once, which is a bit dull... that said, they often attack at such speed that you're easily caught out. I'm not a fan of the way you have to move three-quarters of the way across the screen to push the scrolling... it's a bit awkward. And I never actually saw an endgame as such... I didn't play it through to the end, but every time I died I was just put back to a recent point; there was no Game Over.


Hey, what's up homies? What's that? You want to batter me with bricks? Harsh.

Because the game never seems to end, the repetitive nature of the gameplay can become a little boring. Then again, that's the danger with almost every scrolling beat 'em up. At least you have the extra depth that comes with the RPG-Lite elements, and it's a little harsh to criticise what was obviously quite revolutionary for its time, and is still a pretty decent and fun game when it comes down to it. It's got me looking forward to digging out a few more NES games now.


Why is it called River City Ransom when you're not going to pay a ransom?

Bionic Commando Rearmed (XBox Live Arcade)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , ,


Bionic Commando is a name that goes back a long way. I used to love the Commodore 64 conversion of the arcade game. It was tough but fun, with great music. I never got to play the arcade version, but that hardly matters. If you're American, though, the Bionic Commando name means something entirely different. A brand new version was produced for the NES, which although having a similar main character was a very different game.

It's this version which has been remade for the modern consoles. I bought it the day it came out, played the tutorial, hated it and never loaded it again. Still, the name holds an appeal, and when Capcom produced a brand new, all-singing all-dancing update, I was interested. I wasn't forty quid's worth of interested though... but months and months later, I was able to nab it for £4.50 from Tesco. Rude not to, at that. Before playing that, though, I thought it might be wise to revisit BC: Rearmed.

Good decision.


Ka-BOOOOM! Even the poster is shocked at the power of that one.

Having spent a bit more time with Rearmed and getting to grips with the controls a little more, I started to enjoy myself. The game reminded me quite a bit of Shadow Complex, although that game came out later. It also reminded me of Impossible Mission, strangely enough. I think it was the behaviour of the guards that did it... they'd wander around their little areas quite happily, but when I got near they'd maybe move faster or start firing. It's quite a bit like Impossible Mission's robot droids.

Once I got myself over the fact that your commando can't jump (which I still think is silly, but no longer insurmountable), I started pinging myself around the platform-strewn environments quite handily. And it becomes fun, swinging across a gap, landing successfully , taking out a guard, catching onto the platform directly above, hauling yourself up, hanging there, blasting another guard and then vaulting up onto the platform. Turning that into a fluid, seamless action is very satisfying. It feels right, it feels good.


That's the bugger, there. Let me pass!

There's a small amount of other spy elements here... hacking the computers is also IM-esque. It's a bit weird to start with, but it soon becomes manageable.

Just as I was really getting into it, though, I came to the first end-level boss. And that's where I remain. I just couldn't figure it out at all, even with the clues I was armed with. In fact, we came to an impasse... it couldn't hurt me, and I couldn't hurt it. After 15 minutes, it was back to the dashboard.

Shame, really... there's a lot of game for the MS points, and although it's tough, it feels more challenging than unfair. It's presented very nicely... modern, but with plenty of nods to the old-school. I expect I'll have another crack at this one, probably after I've had a look at GameFAQs or something. I hope the brand new version can live up to this one.

Deja Vu (Nintendo NES)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,


This is more my wife's game than mine. As I've mentioned before, I didn't own a NES back in the day. Lorraine, though, grew up in America, and she did have a NES. One of her favourite games was Deja Vu, so I thought it was only right to educate myself of her past.

Deja Vu, it turns out, is an icon-driven murder mystery adventure game. I think it was released on pretty much every format you can think of before it hit the NES, but as that's the version my wife played, that's the version I wanted to play.


And that you've only got one eye! Jesus! How did that happen?

I've been a bit more at home with adventure games of late, thanks mostly to the brilliance of the Lucasarts games that I've been playing. So although this was released for the NES in 1990, it had been out for years on other systems by that time, and as a result, the icon system that probably seemed fresh at the time feels a bit clumsy to me now.

I think that's partly down to the fact that it's like a graphic representation of a text adventure. So whereas with the SCUMM games, if you try and do something you can't, you get a charming shrug of the shoulders, or some other fun little graphic "reward". But here, you just get the typical "You can't do that" type of message which has frustrated so many gamers over the years.


Awwww, man. I bet that happened after the cleaner went home.

Still, that aside, I was finding the story in Deja Vu pretty interesting for as long as I was playing it. Certainly compelling enough that I want to carry it on. It has an interesting atmosphere... you wake up in a public toilet in 1940s Chicago, and you've lost your memory. Wandering about the building, you find a dead body. I'm sure you can guess where it goes from there.

I'm a bit surprised to find that this was a NES title... it doesn't really seem like the kind of game that would fit on that system. Maybe, being released toward the end of its lifespan, they were trying to appeal to a now-older gaming audience. No matter... it's an appealing game that's managed to get me hooked. And I have to play it more now... it'll get me brownie points with the missus!