River City Rival Showdown is a remake of River City Ransom, a game that was released back in 1989 and was developed by Arc System Works. This remake features an overhauled system with features like a new day-night cycle, experience points and level up system, and more story beats than the original. There is a lot to do and many places to explore, but with only a very limited amount of time. This remake was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS and is now available on modern consoles. Let’s see whether or not this remake stands on its own as a satisfying experience or a frustrating disappointment.
The story of River City: Rival Showdown is that high school student Kunio, a self-confident delinquent, needs to fight against Rival school gangs who each want to establish their dominance as the toughest fighters around. Across the span of three days the player must work towards uncovering plots, secrets and rumors about River City. This all culminates into a final battle that ultimately determines the fate of River City. The player must plan their steps carefully as there are multiple endings which can lead to either good or bad circumstances.
The gameplay of River City: Rival Showdown is pretty simple. Of course there are the basic controls like using the left stick to move, the square button being the punch button and the triangle being the kick button, the circle button being the grab, the X button being the jump button and finally the LB trigger which is the block. There are also special moves that can be purchased in Bookstores around the city and 10 of them can be equipped under the special tab. There are many special moves and abilities that can be equipped so players can choose for themselves which ones they can use in their playthrough however they want. There are also stores that have a variety of clothes, items, accessories, that can each give Kunio a boost to his stats. Speaking of stats there are over nine different stats that each can be invested into using points that are earned through leveling up. The nine stats are; Health, Focus, Punch, Kick, Weapon, Throw, Speed, Luck, and Endurance. Similar to most RPGs with stat leveling, players can choose which stats to invest their points into the most depending on the type of builds they typically prefer.
In River City: Rival Showdown there is a gameplay loop that has Kunio running around the city as a timer is ticking down. The timer represents the time of day Kunio is currently in, which is either day, evening or night. The player is given a total of three in game days to discover the many secrets and characters that are hidden throughout River City. With each time segment comes different specific events that can factor into the conclusion of the play through. Some of these events will only be accessible at certain times of the day and won’t be replayable unless the player restarts with a different play through. Some events are highlighted by NPC’s who have exclamation points over their heads. Throughout the different areas players will fight against different gangs of students who are from different schools throughout River City. These students will be represented differently based on whatever colored uniform they are wearing. An important thing to keep in mind is that this will require the player to play many playthroughs in order to become stronger. So not only will the player have to replay the three days in order to discover all the secrets and quests but also to make Kunio stronger.
The visuals of River City: Rival Showdown is very eye-catching and artistic. They are very reflective of the NRS era of gaming and they bring back many memories of a time when games focused more on their artistic designs and fun gameplay rather than realistic visuals. Its side-scrolling style of gameplay especially reminds me of my childhood when I played arcade games with a similar style.
Overall the game is very reflective of the old NRS times of gaming, but with revamped features for modern day consoles for gamers to enjoy. However, there wasn’t a whole lot about this game that could really get me invested into doing more playthroughs even though that is a main component of the game. While the game has a chockablock of many familiar RPG elements like clothes that increase stats, Food that gives Kunio a multitude of buffs, and many special moves that can be acquired and interchangeable depending on whatever the player wants to use, but that is nothing really new to players who have played games with those kind of components. That doesn’t mean however that other people might not enjoy playing it after all, even games like this can be enjoyed by an audience.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5