River City Ransom combined Double Dragon style fighting with character building elements and added a healthy pinch of Japanese cultural quirk. It's got a strong niche following, with good reason. The goal of the game is to take River City back from several gangs who have infested it, the biggest one having captured the girlfriend of Ryan, the second of the game's two heroes. RCR's character shows through in its simple but effective story, art style and the catch phrases spouted by your opponents as you fight them ("BARF!" the most memorable).
Each gang is distinguished by a characteristic level of fighting skill, weapon types, the amount of cash they drop upon defeat, and a unique shirt color. You'll spend a lot of time beating the hell out of these enemies in order to steal their pocket change and weapons. It's necessary since you start the game as a weakling only able to do basic punches, kicks, and jumping versions of each (with all stats beginning at 15/63 to boot). As you gain status points from eating consumables and learn new techniques by equipping instructional books you purchase, you can increase your fighting ability greatly.
The game can be repetitive at times due to some necessary backtracking, saving up cash for big purchases, and the relative similarity of all your enemies, but this is offset by the game's character, its co-op mode, and good music. The game should hold up well today for anyone who remembers it fondly, anyone who likes a good co-op beat 'em up, or anyone who just wants to know what all the fuss is about.