Parents' Guide to

River City Ransom: Underground

By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Long-awaited sequel is repetitive, too hard without friends.

Game Mac, Windows 2017
River City Ransom: Underground Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Even though it's clear this brawler is banking on loyal devotees to the classic NES game flocking to this, the gameplay is a bit too shallow to keep everyone's attention. It's unfair to knock the action just because tastes have changed, but the simple fact is that doing the same thing (punch, punch, kick, jump, etc.) over and over gets repetitive very fast. RCR:U tries to circumvent this with an unforgiving difficulty, and to a certain extent it helps. Even though you don't have too much strategy at your disposal, the enemies you face are more aggressive in their attacks and will keep you on your toes. In other words, you won't be able to blindly jab away at buttons. Overall, though, this is at odds with other choices the game makes to apparently stay true to its retro aesthetics. Even though you can play as 10 different characters (unlocking 44 total), and will spend time and cash upgrading their skills, much of your experience is trial and error. For example, you have to manage stamina, life, and a number of other attributes that can be boosted or impeded by the wide variety of expensive items and foods you can consume. But there's no way to know what item will change what stat until after you've sunk that hard-earned cash into it and given it a whirl.

Other parts of the game simply feel a little undercooked, like a day and night cycle seemingly included to pad play time -- depending on the time of day, bosses will come back or other events will be triggered. This game is highly recommended to be played with friends, because not only will it help foster an environment of camaraderie against the considerable challenge, but also because going alone is nearly impossible. You'll die too frequently, which causes you to lose half your money. Just like the original, this is a game meant to be played with friends to blow off steam. Don't expect much more than that.

Game Details

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