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Virtually Overlooked: River City Ransom EX


Welcome to our weekly feature, Virtually Overlooked, wherein we talk about games that aren't on the Virtual Console yet, but should be. Call it a retro-speculative.

Talking about the execrable Renegade last week put us in a Technos kind of mood. It's not really fair to Technos or to you to focus only on their one terrible NES game. Let's cleanse our palates together with a good Kunio game.

River City Ransom EX is a Game Boy Advance remake of the NES River City Ransom, which is significantly improved in almost every respect-- except boxart, unfortunately.

Why the game hasn't been announced for Virtual Console yet:

Nintendo knows that if they allowed River City Ransom EX to be sold on the Virtual Console, there would no longer be any need for any more games. Except maybe waggly minigames, we suppose. We obviously love old games, but there are times when it's a tough choice between playing River City Ransom and playing a non-RCR game. Oh, also there aren't any games for handheld systems on the Virtual Console.

Why we think it should be on the Virtual Console:
River City Ransom EX is a faithful remake of the NES original, with some important additions. Most importantly, there are a ton of new special moves. Along with the classic Dragon Kick, Stone Hands, Acro Circus, etc., new, crazy powers can be purchased or earned, including things like Nitro Port, which allows you to teleport directly into the nearest enemy's face with a deadly surprise punch, and Narcishoes, which allow you to jump infinitely. You can equip up to twelve of these abilities at a time, allowing you to totally customize your fighting arsenal.

EX also includes a posse system that allows you to recruit the games' bosses and their friends to fight along with you. Each of these bosses comes pre-equipped with his own exclusive special move. The AI is completely useless, and often ends up an inadvertent target of your garbage cans, but it's a neat feature! Besides, it doesn't matter who you throw a garbage can at, because throwing garbage cans is fun. This feature unfortunately replaces the multiplayer from the NES original. This is a terrible loss, since River City Ransom is one of the best multiplayer NES games.

The new version also includes some new gangs, including the Eagles, all of whom pack extra-long chains. Less deadly groups include the Gamers and the Entrees, a food-themed gang of extremely rich cowards who bring ladders and buckets into battle before running away. The localization is a mix of hilarious new dialogue and River City Ransom standbys ("This blows my day.")

We almost feel like bypassing the Virtual Console theme of our column here to just tell you to buy the GBA game. However, we wouldn't want you setting sail on the pirate-filled eBay sea for a Game Boy game. You're likely to, uh ... okay, we can't think of a nautical metaphor for it. You're likely to get a counterfeit cartridge.

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