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River City Ransom

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Title Screen

River City Ransom

Also known as: Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (JP), Street Gangs (EU), Downtown Nekketsu Story (2020)
Developer: Technos Japan
Publishers: Technos Japan (JP), American Technos (US), Infogrames (EU)
Platform: NES
Released internationally: February 20, 2020 (Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle)
Released in JP: April 25, 1989
Released in US: January 1990
Released in EU: 1991

GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
SoundIcon.png This game has unused sounds.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

DCIcon.png This game has a Data Crystal page

BARF! River City Ransom is a classic old school beat-em up for the NES that also allows free-roaming and the ability to upgrade character abilities by visiting shops scattered throughout the city. It's a localized version of the third Kunio-kun game for the Famicom and like its predecessors (see Renegade and Super Dodge Ball), it was graphically modified and Americanized to become something else entirely for the west.

Unused Graphics

Alex and Ryan (Kunio and Riki)

RCR-KunioCrouch.png RCR-RikiCrouch.png
These graphics of Kunio (Alex) and Riki (Ryan) crouching appear in all versions of the game, though they are mostly removed in the US and European versions. Notice they're wearing their original Japanese school uniforms, not the T-shirt and jeans found in the international versions.

Kunio and Riki shaking hands.

Note that these graphics may not be assembled as intended. The tiles that make up these graphics can be put together in a multitude of combinations and this is just one. Kunio and Riki's head can fit on either body, there are three leg parts to choose from, and one of the bodies even needs to be flipped to face the other. Note that a similar animation is used in the Japanese version of Renegade.

Slick / Simon (Yamada)

This graphic of Yamada seemingly slumped over in defeat is found only in the US and Japanese versions.

Unfinished or partially deleted graphics of what appears to be a character slumped over. It's assumed to be Yamada due to the graphics appearing right below the above one.

RCR-YamadaTelekinesis.png RCR-SlickTelekinesis.png
This graphic is found in all versions of the game. It was planned for Yamada to have telekinesis, allowing him to pick up all the weapons in the area and throw them at you.

Though he doesn't have this ability in the NES game, he does have it in the GBA remake River City Ransom EX, which uses an updated version of the same sprite. Jūkichi, Yamada's counterpart in the Famicom-only sequel Downtown Special, also has this ability (using a similar sprite).

Unlike every other unused graphic, this one was actually given the T-shirt and jeans makeover for the English versions.

Roxy (Hasebe)

This is the girl you meet on the bridge. She was going to have a unique design, but instead is just a generic girl you find in malls. Okoto, Hasebe's counterpart in Rival Showdown, uses the same face.

And she was capable of walking. In the final game, you find her just standing there. After you meet her, she just disappears.

Here she is waving.

RCR-HasebeLetter.png RCR-HasebeBow.png

Here she is winking while handing someone a letter and bowing nervously. This was possibly a love letter meant for Kunio since she talks to him with many hearts in her dialogue in the Japanese version.

All of these graphics are in the Japanese version, and only partially in the US version.

Cyndi (Mami)

This is the girl you're trying to rescue. Like Hasebe, she was going to have a unique design too, but instead is just a generic mall girl. In fact, she's the same generic mall girl as Hasebe, just with a different color skirt.

And like Hasebe, Mami was capable of walking too.

Here she is sitting sadly, possibly how you found her in the classroom she was being held in. Like Hasebe, you instead find her just standing there in the middle of the room. A similar sprite was used by her in River City Ransom EX, though with the pose being slightly different.

RCR-MamiHug.png RCR-MamiBow.png
Here she is giving someone a hug (maybe?) and bowing. Since this is Riki's girlfriend, she was possibly going to hug him if he was the one to rescue her, and bow to Kunio if he was the one.

All of these graphics are in the Japanese version, and only partially in the US version. You can tell these graphics are supposed to be Hasebe and Mami by looking at the game's official art. Compare the characters' hair in the second flyer here.


A naked lady found with the shop graphics. You were most likely meant to find her in the sauna.

RCR numberfont.PNG
A number font is used in the VRAM bank normally used for storing character sprites. Presumably this would be used to show the amount of damage done to the enemy, similar to the numbers used in the game's precursor, Super Dodge Ball (Nekketsu Koukou Dodgeball Bu), and in its semi-sequel, Downtown Special.

RCR coins.PNG
This smaller set of coins are never used; only the larger ones are.

This small sign appears in both the English and Japanese versions of the game. It translates to "Reihou", the name of the school you go to at the end of the game. A bigger, more legible sign is used outside the school gate in the Japanese version.

Whatever this thing is, it was erased from the Japanese version of the game. It appears with the graphics for Sherman Park and the area just outside it. Similar graphics are used outside the entrance to the park.

Unused Music

This is track 13 of the NSF file. This was going to be used during the ending, but the music that plays during Slick's letter at the beginning of the game is used instead. However, this song does play in the GBA remake, River City Ransom EX, at the "The End" screen.

This is track 14 of the NSF file. A similar tune was used previously in Super Dodge Ball when your team travels across the screen before a match.

This is track 15 of the NSF file. Some sort of short fanfare.

This is track 16 of the NSF file. Another short fanfare. Perhaps it would have been used for a "game over" screen if this game had one.

Finally, this is track 17 of the NSF file. This song would later be rearranged for the ending cinematic in Nekketsu Koukou Dodgeball-bu: Soccer-hen, the Japanese version of Nintendo World Cup.

The first part of this track resemblance to one of the tracks from an older Technos Japan arcade game, Mat Mania (Exciting Hour in Japan).

Unused Sounds

Sound effect 23 is a "super" attack effect, very similar to the super shot in Super Dodge Ball and Ike Ike! Nekketsu Hockey-Bu. It may have been intended for Slick's special attack.

Unused Text

To do:
Check JP version.

At 0x5441 in the ROM is a line of spoken dialogue simply saying, "My name is Shin." This text is referenced in several locations in the dialog text table (06B8 = 10).

A "Shin" is credited as a programmer for the localised versions of the game (the name does not appear in the Japanese credits) so this line was likely inserted by them as a placeholder while working on the localisation.

Also in the dialog text table, messages 84 and 85 are "Ooof!" and "Ugh !" that appear alone, without attribution to a character. Perhaps some kind of cutscene?

There's a fair amount of unused text in the item table (06B8 = 01). Many strings have grammar and/or formatting errors.

  • 07 : "was equipped with" - suggesting a more advanced equipment system than was used in the final game.
  • 0D : "has already been uses" - suggesting that consumed items might have remained in the inventory.
  • 1D : "thanked fermers deeply" - if you could use a Smile item in the inventory, this is what would be displayed.
  • 1F : "GUAA" - if you could use a Sauna item in the inventory, this is what would be displayed.

Regional Differences

To do:
Lots more, including a comparison between the Japanese and international scripts as the former now has an official direct English translation (as part of Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle).

The original Japanese game was localized a second time for the Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle and is now officially titled "Downtown Nekketsu Story".

Logo Screen

Street Gangs replaces the Technos Japan Corp. logo in Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari and River City Ransom with a rather ugly-looking purple intro screen mentioning Infogrames, as they published the game in Europe.

Japan/US Europe
RCR-IntroJU.png RCR-IntroE.png

Player Select

In addition to anglicizing all of the characters' and locations' names, as well as the game's dialogue in the English translation, all character and enemy sprites were redrawn, replacing their Japanese school uniforms with T-shirts and jeans.

There are two 2-player options in Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, a mode with friendly fire (A) and a mode without (B). River City Ransom and Street Gangs remove these options in favor of having friendly fire on at all times.

Japan International
Downtown - Nekketsu Monogatari (Japan)-200516-141716.png River City Ransom (USA)-200516-141756.png

Difficulty Select

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari has three difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, and Difficult. Outside of Japan, the easiest difficulty setting was removed, and the Normal setting in Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari version became the Novice setting in River City Ransom and Street Gangs.

Japan International
RCR-DifficultyJP.png RCR-DifficultyEN.png

Title Screen

The title screen gets some pretty drastic changes regardless of region. Putting aside obvious logo overhauls, while Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari has a red background, River City Ransom has an orange background and Street Gangs sports a purple one. The non-Japanese versions also had their copyright info respectively updated, with Street Gangs going as far as to reduce the letterboxing around the screen to make room for it.

Japan US Europe Worldwide
RCRTitleJP.png RCR title.png RCRTitleEU.png RCRTitleWorld.png

Password System

The password system in River City Ransom and Street Gangs is slightly expanded (three lines of 11 characters each) from the haiku-like password system Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (one line of 5 characters, a line of 7, then another of 5). However, the extra spaces are used to keep track of which bosses have been defeated. Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari also comes with a "save" system alongside the password system, due to compatibility with the Turbo File, a peripheral released only in Japan that allows the player to save and load game data.

Japan International
RCR-PasswordJP.png RCR-PassowrdEN.png

Secret Password

There is a special hard-coded secret password in the later western versions of this game. Enter the following words either for the first or the second player's password. Note that the underscores would be blank spaces.


This completely maxes-out all of your stats, gives you $999.99, places all six technique books in your inventory, and changes the first player's name to "Shin" (the second player's name stays the same). However, that alone doesn't really set it aside from any random password the player can generate.

This password uses the Japanese password system layout of 5, 7, and 5 characters, but still houses the whole 11 characters per row system of the western versions. The Japanese version of this game has no such password at all, meaning it was added in the course of localisation, probably by the same programmer "Shin" referenced in unused dialogue.

(Discovery and research: Bisqwit of TASvideos)

Password Glitch

In the Japanese version, there is a password glitch that lets you create your own passwords. Just enter the characters you want on the first 12 spaces, then select "swap/copy", then "End". Now the password will be in the 2nd player slot. Just "swap/copy" and hit "End" again to bring it back to the 1st player slot and it will automatically go back to the game's menu.

Using this method, there is a special password you can enter that will give you max stats and money.


Save Menu

The Japanese version has a Save menu option that can be used if you have the ASCII TurboFile peripheral. In the western versions, this was replaced with a Help menu.

Japan US/Europe
Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari famicom save menu 1.png River City Ransom nes help menu 1.png
Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari famicom save menu 2.png River City Ransom nes help menu 2.png
River City Ransom nes help menu 3.png

Character Names

Japan US/Europe
Kunio Alex
Riki Ryan
Hasebe Roxy
Mami Cindy
Sawaguchi Moose
Kamijo Benny
Yamamoto Clyde
Nishimura Rocko
Kinoshita Blade
Mochizuki Turk
Taira Mojo
Kobayashi Thor
Goda Ivan
Onizuka Otis
Godai Tex
Ryuichi Randy
Ryuji Andy
Yamada Slick/Simon


Japan International
RCR-ShopsJP.png RCR-ShopsEN.png

The majority of the shops in the game have different prices for items between Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari and River City Ransom/Street Gangs, partially due to the conversion factor between Japanese yen and American dollars. Some price changes are more drastic than others, as seen here. The item selection window was also moved down a bit outside Japan.

Secret Screen

US Europe
RCR-KunioRikiMugshots.png RCR-KunioRikiMugshotsEU.png

In the US and European versions, enter the Status screen, then hold Left on controller 2 and press Select + Right on controller 1. You'll be taken to a screen with the mugshots of the main characters while the boss fight music for the Dragon Twins (aka the Double Dragon theme) plays. Press the A or B buttons on either controller to return to the pause menu. In the European version, the screen doesn't display properly because the graphics were overwritten with the title screen graphics.

Oddly enough, this screen cannot be accessed in the Japanese version, even though it should since the characters are wearing their original Japanese school uniforms and the text is in Japanese (the Hiragana text underneath the pictures translates to "Kunio" and "Riki", respectively).

(Source: Data Crystal)