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River City Ransom: How an NES Classic Returned 20 Years On 39

Posted by timothy
from the if-courtesy-were-common dept.
An anonymous reader writes "River City Ransom: Underground is the latest high profile game campaign on Kickstarter but as an interview with the title's creators this week highlights, it's not exactly a new game. Rather, it's an official sequel to a Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom classic, belt-scroller River City Ransom. Remarkably, getting the license and the help of original River City creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto proved easy for the team, indie developers who were submitting game designs to Atari in crayon, aged six. 'I asked for the license and I asked Kishimoto-san if he had an interest in helping us make a better Kunio-kun game,' producer Daniel Crenna says. 'It's not particularly dramatic to say that, but I asked.' As the author points out, it's interesting to imagine what other games could be resurrected with a little bit of polite curiosity.""
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River City Ransom: How an NES Classic Returned 20 Years On

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame that everything about this new game looks rather terrible. The art assets look like one of those horribly insulting re-draws for western audiences, except this time it was the initial assets to begin with. A lot of what you see on the Kickstarter page looks like they've outright thrown out the entire sense and sensibilities of the Riki-Kunio series in exchange for what looks like a bad shareware clone made by fans.

  • Interesting how this article pops up now, as I was just thinking about playing it this morning! Sounds like things are in great hands. I will definitely be digging into the information more now that I know about this!
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @10:08AM (#45317497)
    When Nintendo did their world championships, I tried a bunch of the games set up for display. I actually dodged SMB3 because the line was so long. Some of the games were fun, but I was blown away with River City Ransom. Wow that game was really good.

    I think there is something magical about games with good action mechanics with a little hackney RPG thrown on top. Another good example is Zelda. The reason these games are fun is that it typically rides you in a perfect difficulty. If the game is too easy, you push far without grinding your guy for levels until it is tough. If the game is too hard, you keep trying over and over, and your guy levels up in the process. Eventually you get strong enough to beat the levels and bosses even if you don't have a great deal of skill.

    I shudder to think what a MMORPG would be like if it was quality action oriented combat first and RPG stats second. Instead of coming into fights and pressing 1,2,3,4,5 over and over again, you'd be actually engaging your brain.
    • by Pubstar (2525396)
      Play Tera. The combat system is amazing. There are a handful of lock-on skills, everything else is a skill shot. You place your attack wrong, you wiff. On the flip side of the coin, you can dodge roll and backstep most boss mobs attacks and massive AOEs. The combat system places a huge emphasis on skill, with gear level coming in second (until late game). I main a tank (Lancer) in the game, and its unlike most other tanks in games I've played. I cant just shout, grab agro, and tank and spank. I have
    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Instead of coming into fights and pressing 1,2,3,4,5 over and over again, you'd be actually engaging your brain.

      We'll see how The Elder Scrolls handles as an MMO. I feel like the evolution from Morrowind through to Skyrim has been smooth. They've kept the same basic mechanics for the most part, though things have been refined quite a bit.

      They've really blended a lot of Fallout and TES together (Bethesda), but playing Skyrim feels like their intention from the beginning was to build a great MMO, and each iteration in the series was simply a step in that direction.

  • by eyenot (102141) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Sunday November 03, 2013 @10:16AM (#45317537) Homepage

    Part of the appeal of River City Ransom is just how much content -- quality content, much of it -- they packed into this little side-scrolling beat-em-up.

    There are even weird hidden wonders like, if the enemy throws a baseball at your head but you deflect it with a stick, IT'S ON -- Stickball time, and you and the enemies get into formation and play a damn game of stickball.

    And, it's a beat-em-up with role playing elements like items, skills, and stats. There are some other games like that for the same system (Little Ninja Brothers for example, with its Kung Fu Heroes style battle screens) but this game is modern and admittedly slick.

    So, consider how powerful that was back in the 8-bit days, and consider how that still resonates as a "good game" today.

    How in the hell do you capture that, again? You might say "well they are taking a good step in the right direction by retro-styling it as 8-bit", but is that all it is?

    Think of it dynamically: there is potentially so much *more* that could be done with the game, today. This is the same problem all devs face when they're planning a franchise reboot from the 8-bit days to the modern, post-3d-playforming days. The devs have to ask "how much space of the new world of gaming should this game occupy".

    I'm not saying that making RCR into a cartoonish Grand Theft Auto is going to somehow improve it, either. I'm saying that the envelope has changed.

    The original game was explosive because it packed all of that game into that tiny 8-bit envelope, when there was nothing else to work with. Now, there's tons of other stuff to work with. You can still pack just as much game into just as small of a bit width, but the envelope is so much bigger, now, there's not going to be as much explosive force.

    It's the big let down of retro-styled gaming. It seems like such an awesome idea to make more 8-bit games, as if the legacy didn't leave enough of them behind, but then you sit down and play it and your thumbs go "blah".

    You're asking your thumbs to go back and enjoy tomato soup like they did back in the days when there was only tomato soup, only now they're more accustomed to gazpacho, borscht, and bloody marys.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      8 bit? ain't nothing 8 bit about it.

      but if you can make a sidescroller beat'em'up and want someone to buy it, you're going to need a catch of some sort. because there's really a lot of competition in that. multiplayer just doesn't do it.hell, "retro" graphics wont do it. there's even a bunch of mmorpg's which are basically sideway beat'em'ups(not all of them localized for west tho..)

      • by eyenot (102141)

        8 bit? ain't nothing 8 bit about it.

        Really?

        (from the linked page) >> The original River City Ransom was an instant hit when it debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990, and Underground promises to pick up directly where it left off, complete with a banging chiptune soundtrack, beautifully rendered 8-bit sprites and frantic button bashing action as you plugh through River Cityâ(TM)s different street gangs with little more than your fists.

        You were saying?

        Also, the "MMORPGs" you refer to

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Come on, nobody gets used to gazpacho!

    • by kartaron (763480)
      I have to thank you for being the only poster that ive seen actually refer to the game and the article and not some comment on grammar or japanese etiquette. Gameplay should be important to this remake/sequel. The game was an absolute blast to play. Like a fun metroid. Or castlevania even.
  • Remarkably, getting the license and the help of original River City creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto proved easy for the team, indie developers who were submitting game designs to Atari in crayon, aged six.

    Uhhh... What???

    I don't normally kibbitz over the typical low quality of our FP summaries suck, but I can't even parse that.
    • First paragraph from TFA: "In a way, this was what the brothers were always meant to do. They coded their first game aged six; as a kid, Dustin would post crayon drawings of game designs to Atari (which always politely rejected them). Decades later both were still working in games, Dustin as a freelance sound designer with credits on hits including Halo 4, BioShock and Battlefield."
  • You mean someone has kidnapped Shellsuit Boab's top? http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006p2xl [bbc.co.uk]
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @05:37PM (#45320469)

    ... to modernize the game given how unknown the game is to most gamers and how they barely scraped by with their kickstarter. It would have been nice to modernize the game but it is an old game that no one knows about or is really that interested in.

  • It amazes me that no one seems to remember Autoduel [wikipedia.org]. It was a free-roamer, way before the Grand Theft Auto series. It was sent in a post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" sort of world. It was made by Lord British, the same guy that brought us the Ultima series. You could design new cars with an incredible level of detail, balancing features and power with weight. I spent months of my life on that game.

    In modern times, there was Auto Assault [wikipedia.org], but that was one of those stupid MMORPG things. As if I want to hear 1

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