I have played River City games before. Never have any messed with me as much as Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San!: A River City Ransom Story. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got.

First off, the game doesn’t play like previous games in the series. On the surface it initially seems to lack any depth, but the more you play, the more it gives.

It is a traditional beat-em-up to some degree. If you’ve played a Streets Of Rage, Double Dragon, River City Ransom or Final Fight in the past, then you’re going to get the main genre.

Yet it feels very simplistic, using a single attack button for the bulk of attacks. With additional specials available and various moves added in via jumping and other such movements.

Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San!: A River City Ransom Story can get some getting used to. After a very shor time it actually feels very intuitive and rather enjoyable to play. But the gameplay isn’t where Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! A River City Ransom Story stands out.

That comes from some excellent pixel art and animation backed up by several extras that make this a feast for the eyes and ears.

Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San!: A River City Ransom Story has a glorious soundtrack, which really pushes the game forward and the base sound effects really convey the action superbly well. Add to that the voice work, that is very impressive and seems to cover a large amount of the characters.

Do the character like to chat in this too. It feels like Quentin Tarantino has directed the script. Barely a moment passes where there isn’t some kind of verbal interaction.

Back to the visuals and how impressive they actually are. The rise of the pixel art form over the last few years mean we are now seeing games that we hoped for back in the early days, now coming to fruition.

The sprites are bright and colourful and beautiful to look at Yet now they are backed up by some excellent animations that modern consoles and PCs can handle. Along with incredible amounts of extra details, that older systems just couldn’t deal with.

The gameplay is more than competent and make the game generally fun to play and the story is bonkers with it. With an apparent 20+ endings there is plenty of replay-ability.

We aren’t talking about an all time great, or anything close. Hell it isn’t even the best River City game. But what you have is a budget title that will bring a ton of joy and a very welcome addition to whatever system you own.

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