Anytime you are taking a trip to River City you know it’s going to be a beat down. Gamers all over the world have been getting down on these streets since the late 80s. Now we enter the River City Saga: Three Kingdoms a 4-player co-op beat’em up action title which follows the same concept as the Downtown Special: River City Historical Drama! Game. Guan Yu also known as Kunio attempts to stay alive through the worst times in the late Han dynasty era. Experience important historical events which take place from the Yellow Turban Rebellion to the Battle of Red Cliffs. You can pick up River City Saga: Three Kingdoms for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, or PC for $29.99.
Staying true to the old-school pixel art style the playable characters and NPCs are all designed in retro pixel graphics. Stage backgrounds, chat bubbles, interface panels, and cut scenes are all done in a more modern art style that stays true to the Chinese theme. All done in dope-looking 2D platformer-style stages that once discovered can be accessed via fast travel through the map system. Plenty of destructible objects and friendly NPCs to interact with along with merchants to pick up items you need to endure the battles. Fight through 6 story chapters with up to 24 playable characters including 9 new ones.
Before you take to the streets and restore the Han dynasty to its former glory you must choose who will go on this adventure with you. If you are at the crib, you can tag in up to 4 of your homies in the local co-op arcade mode. The online co-op also supports up to 4 players in arcade mode only. The story mode can also be played co-op but unfortunately with only up to 2 players and it does not work cross-platform. I wish developers would take on the extra work and allow up to 4 players in story mode, that would be way too much fun. But if you are too excited to wait for your crew to play the game, you can always take on the story solo.
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms builds off the gameplay and combat system that River City: Rival Showdown had on 3DS. You can build out your character to a playstyle you prefer by customizing your skills and stat allotment. It’s a super simple system just play the game, level up and earn your stat points. No need to overcomplicate things with your builds. Throughout completing missions and purchasing scrolls from different merchants you will end up unlocking most special abilities. You can also equip up to 3 loadouts of gear items that will give you a variety of buffs. Finally, like any great RPG buff your skills or heal to full with the purchasable consumables.
I was a bit disappointed to find out it wasn’t a cross-platform online co-op. Story mode is a blast aside from the few random puzzles which felt were inconsistent with the theme of the game. Personally, I am not a huge fan of playing through each of the four difficulties to unlock them. At least let me have access to the third one then unlock the final tier after playing through it. If you don’t do the side quests the chapters will feel a bit short but I do think in this case the $29.99 price tag is justified. Adding the 4 player co-op bonus mode really makes this game complete. While it may get a bit redundant at times solo, it’s so much fun playing with friends. A damn good playthrough with enough replayability to make you come back for more!