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Video Game / River City Ransom: Underground

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River City Ransom: Underground is a video game developed by Canadian game studio Conatus Creative with the help of Kunio-kun creator and Double Dragon director Yoshihisa Kishimoto. The game is a sequel to the 24 year-old game River City Ransom. The project was first put on Kickstarter on September 9, 2013 and received a total of $217,643 by October 9, 2013.

20 years after the events of the original game, where our heroes, Alex and Ryan, defeated the sinister gang leader Slick on the River City school rooftop, a new crop of fighters known as the Flock must take to the streets to clear their name in a sinister kidnapping plot, and along the way the duo help them defeat the various gangs of River City.

The game was released on February 27, 2017. The Steam page is here.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Provie, Chris, and Alexis.
  • Action Prologue: The game starts outside River City High, aka the final area of the original game, controlling the young Alex or Ryan.
  • Advertised Extra: Abobo, oddly enough. He's in the loading screen and Steam icons for the game, almost making you think that he has a larger role than he does, but outside of attempting to get your characters at school in the beginning of the game, Abobo mostly just shows up as an Elite Mook.
  • All There in the Manual: The yearbook gives a lot of the characters last names, which, while hard to read due to how small the text is, are readable, that aren't brought up in the game itself.
  • All There in the Script: The text often gives the names of the characters being fought, should you not learn them through dialogue. If not through either of those, then you'll likely learn their names through Arena Mode.
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  • Ambiguous Time Period: The game never says what era it's in, but has aspects of very late 80s, early 90s, and even a few trappings of the early 2000s, due to the grungy look and fashion of the characters. Dr. D actually talks about how this doesn't really make sense within the game, but the player character brushes it off.
  • Amicable Exes: Ryan and Cyndi broke up some time after the events of the first game, but they don't seem to hold a grudge over it and remain good friends. Alex, on the other hand, seems to have held a candle for Cyndi for some time, and is visibly upset that she's living with a deadbeat like William. It's worth noting that Cyndi named her daughter after Alex, so the feeling may have been mutual.
  • Animesque: Although the game uses the American plotline, at least in the beginning, the younger self of Alex and Ryan are still drawn in the distinct Kunio-kun look. Ryan even looks like an older, grizzled version of his original self, Riki.
  • Anti-Climax: After the Escape Sequence at the very end of the game, Chris and the Flock brace for inevitable explosion of the Elaborate Underground Base... only for the secret entrance to close and a small puff of smoke to emerge and dissipate as quickly as it appeared.
    Player: I kind of expected something a little more... grandiose?
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you've already disabled the cloning machine on the final level, doors that required enemies to be defeated will be unlocked already for you, streamlining things a little if you'd already previously died.
    • Falling into Bottomless Pits doesn't instantly spell game over unlike the previous game, but only reducing several bits of health and putting you back on the nearest platform.
  • Big Fun: Mike. He loves a brawl, always has a huge smile on his face and is always stuffing said face. His sprite actually has his belly poking out from under his shirt!
  • Boxing Battler: Paul, who is a boxer.
  • Blood Knight: Mike and Rudy don't start out with any connection to the Flock or Alex and Ryan, but they join up because the fighting looks like fun.
  • Call-Back: Coach Otis introduces himself the same way he does in the original game and this one's tutorial; telling you to get your dirty shoes off his territory.
  • The Cameo: Abobo from Double Dragon appears as a guest character. He is actually the principal of River City High School! And also the Mayor!
    • Misuzu, a recurring female character in the Kunio-kun games, is a school teacher, one of Slick's hostages, and also runs one of the dojos. In the ending, it's revealed that she and Principal Abobo are dating.
    • The character known only as "Me", originally from a Flash game Dad 'n Me, appears as a boss character.
    • There are also a few characters from other well known indie games that make a guest appearance in the background of the dojos in the game.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Mike's combat style is described as "Grappler". A more appropriate description is "Heel": he likes to poke eyes, bite his enemies and other classic dirty tricks of wrestling baddies.
  • Crippling Overspecialization:
    • Calvin, in Arena Mode, keeps the powerful mech he has in the Story Mode, but if he loses it, he can't get it back. Naturally, the mech is his only way of fighting, leaving Calvin almost useless should he lose it.
    • Mike and Rudy's abilities are primarily close range-oriented, particularly focused on grabbing and grappling enemies, with their main attacks otherwise being rather slow. Naturally, both characters are difficult to use against crowds of even basic enemies, especially since the enemy AI is very defensive, putting Mike and Rudy among the hardest characters to use effectively and upgrade.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: During the prologue in River City High's gym, old players would've used the gym equipment to get to the second floor just like the original. This time, the equipment is just for looks and you need to get on the bleachers instead.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Chris spends the majority of the game imprisoned in the deepest depths of the school by Slick's forces, but not only does she manage to bust out all by herself, but she goes on to become playable and is just as badass as the rest of the heroes.
  • Degraded Boss: The Backers get their own encounters, but once you defeat all 7 of them, they become common enemies just before the endgame starts.
  • Developers' Foresight: If you replay the Tutorial stage as any character besides OG Alex or Ryan, some of the bosses will mention being confused as to who you are.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Slick. He's set up as the antagonist for the game, and the kidnapping seems to match his modus operandi, but after he's defeated, it turns out that Slick was actually working for someone else.
  • Dub Name Change: Averted. The Japanese script uses the American names in katakana.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Provie wears wraps on her bare feet.
  • Early Game Hell: Starting with a level 1 character is rough, due to your starting moveset not having enough for handling the large crowds of enemies, and money for extra moves and stats slowly trickling in from beating people on the streets. Once you get enough moves for crowd control and hitting people while they're down, it gets much easier.
  • Elite Mook: Abobo. He can randomly appear in any area, breaking through the wall of course. While his normal variants aren't that tough, later on he comes in different colors, some of which are guaranteed to ruin your day when they show up.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Provie.
  • Expy:
    • Paul sure looks a lot like Little Mac, doesn't he? One of Paul's color schemes is pretty much exact same as Little Mac, with green shorts and boxing gloves.
    • Rudy's grappling moveset, employing spinning and suplexes, heavily resembles that of Mike Haggar.
  • Extremity Extremist: As a boxer, Paul only uses his fists.
  • Extreme Omnivore: You can buy many different items that boost your stats. No matter what the item is, food or not, your character will eat it. Books, video game cardridges.. everything.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Mike is mostly seen with his eyes closed even when fighting, only opening them when surprised or being hit.
  • Fighting Irish: Mike. His standard stance is even putting up his fists like an old-school Irish boxer.
  • Foreshadowing: If you find yourself in the Merlin Shop, a silhouette of Dr. D sputters behind the cashier at certain intervals.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: As there are quite a few characters in the yearbook who aren't selectable, you'll only barely get to see much of them, although among the people in the yearbook include: Me from Dad N' Me, Ether, Abobo, Slick (listed as "???"), Ivan, Otis, Tex, Rocko, Randy and Andy, and even some of the game's various mook characters.
  • Gang of Hats: In proud River City tradition, but this time they're not just color swaps of each other: instead, each gang is its own thing:
    • The generic goons (wearing green shirts and black ski caps) are mostly defensive and will try to flank you from behind.
    • The Nerds have low health and attack power and are prone to fleeing once things go south for them, but have a variety of chemicals that cause detrimental effects to you when thrown.
    • The Roids are Jerk Jocks who attack primarily with grapples and throws.
    • The Luchas, as their name implies, use primarily wrestling style moves.
    • The Bombers are Greasers who fittingly fight dirty, such as using body slams, brass knuckles and, at higher levels, kicking sand.
    • The Warlocks use various ranged spells to make up for their limited physical strength, often favoring sneak attacks from afar.
    • The Vixens are Fragile Speedsters with low health but very high speed and attack power thanks to their roller skates.
    • The Rich Kids have the finest fighting skills money can buy, with strong attacks, sturdy defense, and high mobility.
    • While not a gang per se, Police appear when you're Wanted and in certain event battles. They have the largest variety of enemy types, ranging from simple hand to hand, to stun batons, to gas grenades.
    • Similarly, Special Forces soldiers start appearing after a certain point in the story, and they are tougher than the others thanks to their high defense. If you're not good at grappling, taking them down might take a while.
    • The suited Clones, being late game enemies, are especially powerful to fight and can also draw rayguns to shoot you at a distance. If they are close to defeat, they will attempt to replicate themselves and increase their numbers.
  • Gang Up on the Human: In theory, the thugs you're fighting are also violent gang members, but when the cops show up, they ignore them and target you, even they should happen to be hit by one of your enemies' attacks.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: While all the other characters seem to specialize in actual martial arts or wrestling moves, Mike fights with untrained but powerful hits and dirty tricks.
  • Growing Up Sucks: The 28-year Time Skip has had its toll on Slick's generals; Rocko, Tex, and Ivan all lament that they can't fight anymore, and even Otis, who is the coach of the new River City High and is the only one to get a boss fight, says that if he were just a few years younger, he would wipe the floor with you.
  • Guide Dang It!: There are no descriptions or even hints at what any item or new move does before you purchase them, requiring you to either make leaps of faith or look them up online.
    • Even after buying a move, using it may not be clear; Several moves are just show one button in the movelist. These come after certain other moves to form combos, and it's possible to buy a move you can't use because they come after another move you haven't bought.
    • When you want to learn new moves, you'll need to purchase them from a dojo. In addition to the price, the character also need to have reached a high enough level and have enough points in the Special meter to buy it. The problem is that the game only tells you that "your level is not high enough", never telling what the exact level requirement is. A patch has since rectified this so you know what level is needed for each move.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Provie, who wears wraps on her hands and feet. The wrestler Rudy also wears hand wraps.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Unlike the previous game, this game can spawn enemies in shopping areas and even inside the stores themselves once the clones start appearing. Enemies usually comes in 6-8 packs, and even if they are increasingly easier to dispose except the clones, which hit harder than the usual enemies, it can be overwhelming. However (unless the chase segments), boss fights are usually straightforward fight against one or two enemy.
  • Institutional Apparel: Slick sports an orange prison jumpsuit with a white undershirt. He also wears handcuffs, though they don't seem to slow down his combat abilities.
  • Level Grinding: This is very much required to gain levels and money. Neither of them carry over between characters, so every character must start their level grinding from the beginning when you switch to a new character.
  • Lighthearted Rematch: The first time you go through the forest, the Bee Brothers will stop you from progressing midway after you defeat all the enemies in an area. If you defeat all the enemies in that area after the original boss fight, they show up again, but Pink Bee admits there's nothing personal; they just want to have some fun.
  • Man Bites Man: Mike does this as his starting grapple attack.
  • Mascot Mook: Abobo is a major part of the game's marketing, and his face is even the desktop icon, in spite of being just a much more powerful enemy.
  • Masked Luchador: The Luchas are a whole gang of them.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • William/Sentinel's punch and kick buttons are keyed to different directions instead of going the way you're facing, ala Double Dragon; pressing the punch button will result in a backward kick if he's facing right, and pressing the kick button while he's facing left will do the same.
    • Calvin uses a mech, and if it takes too much damage, he's knocked out of it and forced to run for a while. He can barely fight, only being able to nervously fart, pick up items, and grab enemies (but not hit them), and that's it, forcing you to get back to the mech as soon as possible.
  • Mirror Match: In the beginning of Act 3, when you fight Wes, you can pit the playable Wes against the computer-controlled one; he comments on "seeing double".
  • Moveset Clone:
    • Purple Bee and Pink Bee share many of the same moves (albeit the latter has one distinct special), the same general outfit with different colors, but both get their own character slots and even profile.
    • Zigzagged with the Backers; they were originally one character with seven skins, but in the fifth patch, were all given separate character slots (but the same profile picture), putting them into this territory.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the yearbook you get upon starting save files, Alex's (barely discernible) last name is listed as "Kun", a nod to his original name and franchise of origin. Ryan's last name is also "Samejima", after Kunio's rival/friend, Riki's.
    • In fact, Ryan's redesign makes him look just like Riki (except for the stubble, of course).
    • Abobo, in the ending, is punched in the gut and carried off by Misuzu, just as Marian gets carried off after being punched in the gut in the Double Dragon games.
    • The character select portraits of the OG versions of Alex and Ryan are based on the American box art of the original game.
  • Nostalgia Level: It is possible to visit many familiar locations from the original game, and see how they have changed in 25 years. Some of the original shops are still there, too. The tutorial itself is a condensed version of the original's endgame.
  • No Fourth Wall: Most characters have some awareness of the fact that it's all just a video game. Dr. D takes this to the next level, as his entire plan is to exploit the game's rules of logic and make himself super-powerful with no effort.
  • Obvious Beta: The game was released in a rather buggy state on Steam; a lot of characters' moves are either unresponsive or don't work (in one case allowing Alex to be able to buy Ground Pound, a move he can't use, because it's not from his moveset), the menus having issues, the multiplayer had a rough launch, and you couldn't play as enemies you fought in Arena Mode. While a few of these are being addressed with patches pretty soon after release, such as fixing some of the unresponsive moves, UI issues, the Arena Mode, and online multiplayer, it's clear a lot of work is still going into the game.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The interior of Merlin's Mystery Shop looks like it's constantly glitching out with garbled graphics and sound. The shopkeeper can occasionally be seen crying and screaming in frustration over it.
  • Palette Swap: Purple Bee and Pink Bee. Lampshaded and justified in that they're actually brothers.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Mike is always with a smile on his face, even when laying the smackdown on his opponents.
  • Perma-Stubble: Both Alex and Ryan sport these due to being older.
  • Power-Up Food: Food permanently boosts your stats, with different foods having different effects, natch.
  • Promoted to Playable: Almost all of the bosses and regular enemies are playable characters in Arena Mode.
  • Retraux: Much like Double Dragon IV and Shovel Knight, this game looks, sounds, and plays like an NES game with widescreen, more than two buttons, and no flickering. Even more so in the prologue level, where only the heads distinguish the Mooks, just like the 8-bits.
  • Secret Character: After the Action Prologue, you only have access to Glen, Bruno, Provie and Paul, but you can unlock Rudy and Mike almost right away by beating up all the thugs in the gym and the cafeteria, respectively.
    • Alex and Ryan are unlocked simultaneously once you beat Purple Bee.
    • Wes and Chris are unlocked once you beat Wes on top of the Harrier jet.
    • One of the characters you can unlock for Arena Mode is William, Cyndi's husband who turns out to be one of Dr. D's clones, which you accomplish by fighting and defeating him about the time it's revealed he's one of Dr. D's creations.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mooks will sometimes freak out and run away from the player.
  • Shotoclone: There is a character called Glen who can perform many of the classic Street Fighter moves, such as Shoryuken, Hadoken, and Hurricane Kick.
    • His fighting style is even called "Shoutokan."
  • Shout-Out: One of Rudy's alternate colors makes him look like The Incredible Hulk.
    • Similarly, one of Paul's palettes has the same color scheme as Little Mac.
    • One move Mike can pull off has him transform into a statue much like the Tanooki Statue from Super Mario Bros. 3, smashing anyone below him.
    • Various indie games' protagonists hang out in the various dojos. Of note, two knights from Castle Crashers, two masked killers from Hotline Miami, the main character from Hyper Light Drifter, and Shovel Knight.
    • The nerd gang enemies will often quote lines from the Back to the Future film series.
    • There is a shop that sells stat boosting video games. The games include titles such as Speedo The Wombat, Corleone Cousins and Whips Vs. Vampires.
    • One of Slick's attacks turns his arm into a mass of flesh, resembling Tetsuo. Given that at least one of the sprite artists of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World also worked on this, it also doubles as a very recursive reference to Todd Ingram, who not only used a similar attack, but had Slick's psychic attack from some versions of River City Ransom!
    • Dr. D's final form heavily resembles the Robo-Corpse boss from Contra III: The Alien Wars and even dies in the same way when the sliding doors it holds open decapitates it.
    • Abed Nadir and Troy Barnes are in the River City High yearbook.
    • Cyndi's husband William looks an awful lot like (and may well be the River City Ransom counterpart to) biker gang boss Shinji from the first Kunio-kun game.
    • In Adam Park, there's a giant egg with the hair and sunglasses of Albert Wesker. Such an egg is a reference to ProtonJon, who was one of the backers. In fact... "Adam Park"? Yeah, Adam Park.
  • Talk to the Fist: In River City Ransom tradition, enemies like to talk a lot. You can choose to shut them up with your fists.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Provie's the only female playable character and available Flock member at the start of the game's story mode. Later, the Vixen gang become this for the enemy's side, being the only female mooks you fight. You won't gain another playable female character for the story (Chris, the leader of the Flock) until you infiltrate MERV HQ close to the end of the game later.
  • The '90s: The game has distinct late eighties to early nineties aesthetics.
  • Time Skip: The game takes place 28 years after the original game.
  • Title Drop: Dr. D makes no effort to lampshade this when his final form appears.
    Dr. D: Prepare to make this underground base your grave. Only now do you realize... that it wasn't just a classy subtitle.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can adopt cats in this game. Finding them all a home rewards you with a pretty decent melee weapon.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • After the Action Prologue, if you enter a classroom you're not supposed to be in and beat up the teacher, you get sent to the principal's office, whom you then fight. The principal is none other than Abobo. Slightly subverted as he's not that impossible to beat if you take your time.
    • You can attack perfectly innocent people walking around the street, and some of them have quite a bit of money. Naturally, the cops are likely to show up and make trouble for you.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Slick. Up until him the bosses are relatively easy. All that changes when you fight him. He has a lot of powerful and wide reaching attacks and has two phases, the second of which actually has regular mooks fighting alongside him.
  • Warm-Up Boss: The last leaders of the original game (Ivan, Otis, Tex, the Dragon Twins and Slick/Simon) are fought during the Action Prologue with their HP and skills reduced. If Alex or Ryan end up being beaten by any of them, the game allows them to get back up with some HP regained.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Dragon Twins Randy and Andy, despite their significant role in the original River City Ransom as the penultimate boss battle, are the only characters from the Tutorial who do not reappear in the main storyline.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Rudy, Bruno, and Mike specialize in grapples. Mike is a submission artist, Bruno is a luchador, and Rudy is basically a grappler.
  • Year X: The original River City Ransom took place in 19XX. This game takes place 25 years later... in 19XX. Dr. D points out this discrepancy at the end of the game, but the player characters just get confused and decide to sort it out after they win the fight.
  • You Get Knocked Down, You Get Back Up Again: Averted. Some enemies can give you a kick while you're on the ground. You can do the same to them, of course, with the right special move.
  • Younger Than They Look: Rudy, Mike, Paul, Glen, and Bruno are all apparently high school kids.


Example of: