Welcome to the fourth round of Box Art Brawl, the series where a classic retro game takes on its doppelgängers from other territories to see which has the greatest cover art. Last week we saw GameCube titan Resident Evil 4 knock itself sideways as its moody European self won a very comfortable victory over its North American and Japanese counterparts.
We're travelling back nearly thirty years this week to see how Technos' River City Ransom fares against itself. The third game starring Kunio (in the Japanese original Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari), its western localisation took some liberties with the source, as was the custom of the day, and that goes double for the box art.
A bout of fisticuffs is nothing new to this side scrolling beat 'em up and, as you'll see below, its three versions have very different personalities, so this should be a very interesting match. We've included a couple of bonus looks at the GBA EX versions, but the poll is Famicom/NES only. Let's get down to it and meet the contenders...
The Japanese original makes the high school setting clear with its cartoon-y take on series protagonist Kunio, rival Riki and the gangs of high schoolers they beat their way through. The cute characters punch out of the black border into the surrounding pink and it's certainly a world away from the interpretation players would get in North America.
Bonus: This cover would be revised slightly for the Game Boy Advance release River City Ransom EX which came out in 2004. It retains much of the same colour but pulls Kunio and Riki out of their frame and rounds off their character designs a tad.
The sprites of the characters were redrawn for the west with the t-shirts and jeans reflected on the new cover. Kunio and Riki became Alex and Ryan and they appear to have aged a decade or so. We reckon we could chop onions on Ryan's impressive flat top and the white t-shirts and sign for River City High School give it a West Side Story-style '50s flavour. Perhaps evoking the Jets and the Sharks from the much-loved musical made the idea of teenage gang violence easier to swallow.
The 'Ransom' in the new title gets the cut-out letter treatment and there's a pleasant harmony to the colours used on this cover. It's certainly different.
Bonus: The GBA box for River City Ransom EX recreated the lettering, but let's not dwell on the rest of it. Oh dear.
Further removed from the idea of high school students belting the living hell out of each other, PAL regions saw the game renamed to Street Gangs and the box reworked entirely. A blue border frames the protagonists with an orange/red cityscape oddly positioned at the bottom and other brawlers obscured but silhouetted in the background. The title is... well, it's legible. That's probably the best thing we can say about it.
So, those are your three options this week and it's time to pick your favourite. Take a look below, click the favourite and hit the 'Vote' button:
Which region got the best River City Ransom box art? (394 votes)
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That's all for this week! Feel free to voice your thoughts and predictions below and we'll catch you again next time for round 5 of Box Art Brawl.