Part of the appeal of River City Ransom is just how much content -- quality content, much of it -- they packed into this little side-scrolling beat-em-up.
There are even weird hidden wonders like, if the enemy throws a baseball at your head but you deflect it with a stick, IT'S ON -- Stickball time, and you and the enemies get into formation and play a damn game of stickball.
And, it's a beat-em-up with role playing elements like items, skills, and stats. There are some other games like that for the same system (Little Ninja Brothers for example, with its Kung Fu Heroes style battle screens) but this game is modern and admittedly slick.
So, consider how powerful that was back in the 8-bit days, and consider how that still resonates as a "good game" today.
How in the hell do you capture that, again? You might say "well they are taking a good step in the right direction by retro-styling it as 8-bit", but is that all it is?
Think of it dynamically: there is potentially so much *more* that could be done with the game, today. This is the same problem all devs face when they're planning a franchise reboot from the 8-bit days to the modern, post-3d-playforming days. The devs have to ask "how much space of the new world of gaming should this game occupy".
I'm not saying that making RCR into a cartoonish Grand Theft Auto is going to somehow improve it, either. I'm saying that the envelope has changed.
The original game was explosive because it packed all of that game into that tiny 8-bit envelope, when there was nothing else to work with. Now, there's tons of other stuff to work with. You can still pack just as much game into just as small of a bit width, but the envelope is so much bigger, now, there's not going to be as much explosive force.
It's the big let down of retro-styled gaming. It seems like such an awesome idea to make more 8-bit games, as if the legacy didn't leave enough of them behind, but then you sit down and play it and your thumbs go "blah".
You're asking your thumbs to go back and enjoy tomato soup like they did back in the days when there was only tomato soup, only now they're more accustomed to gazpacho, borscht, and bloody marys.