Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (River City Ransom)

Naxat Soft / Technos Japan
Super CD-ROM

I like this game well enough. It's a decent duke-it-out sort of thing, a fast-paced little "brawler before brawlers really got good." But if you're gonna ask me if it deserves the ridiculous amount of hype it gets in its various incarnations, if it's truly the impeccable "cult classic" that droves of slobbering NES fans make it out to be, if it's worth the $100+ that this version typically goes for, then I'm gonna respond with a resounding "Fuck no." I guess I just don't find the whole "everyone is a big-headed hunchback with no neck" thing as adorable and charming as most people do.

There isn't much to do in Downtown, and I don't simply mean it's burdened with the usual brawler repetitiveness. The enemies at the end of the game are essentially replicas of the chumps who appear when the journey commences, but they block and swing a little more often and sport different "gang colors." All you do is go around town beating on the bums, occasionally taking out a "more important," slightly tougher bum.

Yes, there's a "shopping" element that fans will tell you was extremely innovative. Sorry, but I can't sit here in this day and age and pretend that my enjoyment of the game is enhanced by periodic strolls through malls and opportunities to purchase health restorers and the occasional "technique-teaching" book. In fact, considering Final Lap Twin features a fully realized RPG mode, I question whether this buying-in-a-brawler business is all that special even given Downtown's age. I will say that I like the funny little in-store animations, though.

The raw guitar-driven music is pretty cool and suits the game perfectly, but it hardly ever changes up (which, I suppose, is one of the reasons it suits the game perfectly...).

Again, there's nothing really wrong with the action; Downtown plays fairly well and makes for decent fun. But it's sorely lacking in "money moments." Its one truly exciting scene is a tribute to a contemporary, complete with the awesome old Double Dragon theme music.

It might've been a good idea to end things right there--but no, Downtown insists on concluding with an anticlimactic rooftop "showdown."

But hey, if you're one of the many people who are crazy about the NES rendition and you've got some cash to burn, don't let me be a party pooper. Go ahead and pick this thing up, and revel in all its no-necked awesomeness.

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