River City: Rival Showdown (3DS)

There’s a popular video game character in Japan named Kunio who has been fighting the good fight for about 30 years now!  Kunio is a high school student who is hot-blooded and gets in a lot of fights, but he has a good heart.  He mostly stars in a lot of beat-em up games, but also is very athletic and competes in sports titles as well.  Many of Kunio’s games have made it to the US, with some graphical and name changes, of course.  Some of these include the very first Kunio game, called Renegade in the West.  Some of his sports titles that have been brought over here are Super Dodge Ball, World Cup Soccer, and Crash N the Boyz Street Challenge.  Even the Double Dragon games have ties to Kunio.  But perhaps his most famous game in the US is the NES classic River City Ransom.  Over the past year or so, Natsume has brought over some of the more recent Kunio games to the 3DS in the US, and the newest is River City: Rival Showdown.  In the game, twin brothers have taken over a neighboring high school and threaten to take over Kunio’s turf.  Even worse, Kunio’s best pal and friendly rival Riki has discovered that his girlfriend has gone missing.  Kunio only has three days to beat the bad guys and solve the mystery in this 3DS game.

Rival Showdown plays a lot like River City Ransom and last year’s Kunio revival game: River City: Tokyo Rumble.  You’ll tromp around streets, beating up random gangs of bad guys with punches, kicks, and throws.  But the game has RPG elements, too.  Defeated enemies net you experience points, and when you level up, you can improve your skills.  Shops are scattered around for you to buy healing foods, books, weapons, and armor to boost your stats.  When you’re not fighting, you can also talk to people to gather information.

The main difference in this game is that you have a time limit to finish your goals.  You can choose to spend your time however you like, but after the three days are up, you’ll have to face the rivals again and view one of multiple endings depending on what you do.  There is also a mini-game called Double Dragon Duel (told you that Kunio games have ties with Double Dragon).  In the main story mode, you can visit an arcade where people are playing Double Dragon Duel.  Well you can actually play that game, which mixes River City beat ‘em up action with a one-on-one fighter.  Through local download play, you can also play both the story mode and the Double Dragon mini-game with two players as well.

I did have a few problems with the game, though.  As a personal preference, I didn’t like the time limit because I’d rather play these kinds of games at my own pace.  Luckily they give you lots of time in the game, but I still didn’t like that gameplay decision.  It was made especially difficult because goals and objectives are oftentimes unclear, and the map on the bottom of the screen is a little hard to read.  The game is also quite tough, even on the Beginner difficulty selection.  And I didn’t like that you can only save at Net Cafés, not anywhere you want, like in the last game.  If you’re a fan of Kunio-kun games, you’ll probably want to try this one out anyway, but I prefer last year’s River City: Tokyo Rumble more.

Kid Factor:

River City: Rival Showdown is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Alcohol.  You punch and kick cartoony bad guys that disappear when defeated.  The other descriptors are mostly just in the text.  Reading skill is needed, and younger gamers may get frustrated at the difficulty and lack of clear goals.

One Response to “River City: Rival Showdown (3DS)”

  1. I love the ideas and look of this game. I found the NES orginal kind of difficult. Too bad this is the same. I still want to play it though.

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