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It has been 28 years since the original River City Ransom released, and it finally has a proper sequel in Underground. I know, I know, some of you purists are saying, "But Jed, RCR had a ton of sequels and spinoff sports titles, they just didn't come to the USA other than River City: Tokyo Rumble."
While this is true, none of those games are true sequels to the game we know and loved growing up. The English version of River City Ransom was heavily localized to cater to a Western audience, meaning most everything dealing with Japan was removed and replaced with something a bit more American. The characters names were also changed from Kunio and Riki to Alex and Ryan. Essentially the game was whitewashed for the sake of sales.
River City Ransom: Underground is not only the sequel RCR fans have been waiting for but one of the greatest beat 'em ups of all time.
You can play as one of ten characters in story mode, each with unique move sets that can be unlocked via dojos scattered around the city. Unlike most beat 'em-ups that just feature a few basic moves, Underground gets quite deep to the point that it feels nearly like a fighting game more so than a button masher as you effortlessly pull off long and impressive combos that send multiple enemies flying through the air.
Not only can you bash through the story mode with up to four players online or locally, but you can also challenge them to battles in an arena fighting mode that has its own stages and seemingly every character including enemies and bosses as unlockable characters.
The good bits of nostalgia you'd expect to find are here too, like beautiful pixel art with characters and locations that feel like they belong in the RCR world, and a soundtrack by one of my favorite sometimes chiptune based artists, Disasterpeace.
River City Ransom: Underground was worth the wait, and hopefully we don't have to wait nearly three decades for the next one. The look, feel, and humor of the original is here with a new in-depth fighting system that feels fresh yet familiar while being deeper than basically every other game in the genre. I can't say for sure that Underground is the best beat 'em up of all time, but it deserves its place at the table with RCR, Golden Axe, Final Fight, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. May the year 19xx live on forever!