River City Ransom was an important game in the development of my retro appreciation. My early attempts at familiarizing myself with the NES included such titles as Kid Icarus, Friday the 13th, and — I swear this is true — Total Recall. It left me with the impression that I just didn’t like NES-era video games. River City Ransom and Punch-Out!! corrected that perspective and led me down the path of having difficulty conversing with normal people.
It would also lead me to explore the Kunio-Kun series. See, in Japan, River City Ransom was part of this staggeringly large series of games that had the absolute most inconsistent and complicated naming scheme imaginable. Alternating between Kunio-Kun, Nekketsu, Downtown, and even Dodgeball Club, their monikers were typically long and all over the place, but the titles were unified with a cartoonish appreciation for violence and a memorably weird art style.
We got a few over here in the West, such as Super Dodge Ball and Crash ‘N’ the Boys, but the majority stayed in their home country. The unfortunate truth is that the best games in the series never landed on the NES. Let us introduce you to one of them.