Another River City Adventure

It never ceases to amaze me that a franchise like River City Ransom is still going strong. I remember playing the original back on the NES and loving it, and while I have played a few of the newer iterations that have been released since the original has always been my favorite. So, when I found out that River City: Rivals Showdowns was a remake of sorts of the original, well I grabbed some money and a pork bun and headed out onto the streets of River City again as Kunio.

The story in Rivals remains the same as the original; in which two mysterious twins from a rival school come looking for Kunio. However, Rivals is deeper by comparison with its inclusion of side quests and other mysteries to explore, there is even a whole section reveals where a side character was during the events of the main game. The River City games have always had an array of quirky characters and with these side quests players will get to meet a whole host of them. Undertaking missions like trying to figure out the identity of the Tiger Mask students and more offer a fun diversion from the main story and more importantly a way to grind some XP.

MSRP: $24.99
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC
Price I’d Pay: $24.99

For those that have never played any of the River City games, they pride themselves of providing an open world in which to navigate and explore and Rivals Showdown is no different. Players will have a map that will aide them in navigating the area and a journal to keep track of events, this is going to be extremely important because in Rivals Showdown players only have 3 days to complete the narrative. There is a day and night system which will affect vendor store hours but players are free to move about solving things and getting into fights as they see fit. This is a blessing and a curse, its cool to be able to happen upon events and things and some of the side characters are quirky and comical. But because of its open nature and the sluggish way the game provides opportunities to upgrade attacks prepare to get beat up a lot.

I was wary going down every new alleyway as it was commonplace to come across that whooped my ass which usually would mean you just reload the save but instead of seeing ‘Game Over’ players lose an hour of in game time when they are knocked out. Rivals Showdown is a game about time management at the end of the day and with multiple endings players will have to play ‘trial and error’ in order to find that perfect ending, which I don’t mind telling you I haven’t found. One huge benefit, and really the only reason I wasn’t more upset at this ‘Majora’s Mask’ type nonsense is that players don’t lose their items between playthroughs. So, if you don’t make it the first 3 days (and you won’t) the items you had at the end will carry over and be on Kunio on the next playthrough. This takes away some of the tedious replaying of parts which is a nice feature for a reimagining of a NES era game.

Leveling up in Rivals Showdown is a straight forward affair, and players don’t need to find a ‘build’. The freedom the game offers allows for players to choose which special moves to equip and its possible to equip equipment to make up for any gaps players might feel in their builds. Lastly as a nice surprise the game includes Double Dragon Duel, which is a full 1 v 1 fighting game with a full roster with special moves combos and even a few characters to unlock. It’s a nice change of pace from the action RPG game and can allow players to blow off some steam when they inevitably get beat up on the early part of Rivals Showdown story mode.

With a full explorable River City, a story with multiple endings and the surprise Double Dragon fighting game; there is a lot on offer in Rivals Showdown. Unfortunately, it’s held back by an overly repetitive soundtrack which will start to grate on one’s nerves, and some very uneven combat until the late game. These games are usually good for some fun beat-em up action but it takes so long for this entry to hit its stride with the combat that by the end I was just running on auto pilot. I think there is a lot here for fans to discover but this isn’t going to bring in any new fans, especially when the last two entries in the River City Saga were much better.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Some fun combat in the late game
  • Loved the side stories
  • Combat doesn’t get fun until late game
  • Some performance issues on the Switch undocked
Written by
Terrence spends his time going where no one has gone before mostly. But when not planning to take over the galaxy, he spends his time raising Chocobo and trying to figure out just how the sarlaac could pull Boba Fett’s ship with its engines firing FULL BLAST into it’s maw with relative ease; yet it struggled with Han Solo who was gripping *checks notes* SAND!