Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"River City: Rival Showdown" Review

"River City Ransom" (1989) was a groundbreaking marvel of the NES era, adding RPG elements to a "Double Dragon"-style brawler to create a hybrid experience that developers still try to emulate today. Word that Arc System Works was crafting a spiritual sequel has tantalized fans of the original for years. Now after a stream of nagging false starts and delays, the end result is finally here. It doesn't disappoint.

The devs not only had to live up to the towering expectations of the original, they had to surpass the shadow of the legend to create a game that adhered to modern standards while nailing the feel and energy of the predecessor. They accomplish both tasks by nailing the basics -- this is a game with looks and sounds ripped straight out of the late 80s -- and constructing a deep, satisfying ecosystem around the archaic trappings.

Taking cues from "Groundhog Day" and "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask," the setup takes you through three days on the gang-infested streets, allowing you to spend them any way you like. While forced to adhere to a day/night cycle with a set amount of time to seek out objectives, you are free to plow through the main storyline, chase off on side quests or just stay in one area braining the same group of thugs over and over again. Various characters have different things to say to you depending on the time of day you encounter them, and you need to follow routines and devise a plan of attack through trial and error to make headway.

With a deceptively complicated and satisfying battle system complete with throws, blocks, punches and kicks -- the latter two of which can be modified by jumps -- there are a host of ways to set out attack and defense strategies. With two difficulty modes to consider, you're probably best off starting on the easier mode to get your feet wet before taking on the game n its more cheap and punishing level. The fact that you'll keep on diving back in with a determined grin on your face says something about how replayable "River City: Rival Shodown" is.

Publisher provided review code.

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