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    River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review – Dynasty Brawlers

    River City Saga: Three Kingdoms takes the acquainted characters and artwork type from the Kunio series–best recognized for River City Ransom and Super Dodgeball within the West–and applies it to a novel new setting: the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese historical past. It’s an sudden mash-up, with acquainted characters like Kunio, Riki, and Misako enjoying dress-up as historic figures, and mixing the classical story of warring kingdoms with modern-day smack-talk. Similarly, the gameplay is a combination of eras, mixing some modern-day brawler conventions right into a recreation that’s decidedly old-school.The visible type displays this combination, with chunky 8-bit-style sprites set towards 3D backgrounds and shading strategies. The setting itself makes a really endearing combination, albeit not the perfect method to be taught Chinese historical past. I went into the sport with solely a passing familiarity with the Three Kingdoms saga, and whereas I’m certain I picked up a number of broad strokes and total concepts, it was generally laborious to discern what was true to the unique story and what was the Kunio collection riffing with its personal persona and jokes. The main characters are largely lovable, muscley doofs, true to the Kunio collection however maybe much less so to Chinese historical past.

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    Now Playing: River City Saga: Three Kingdoms announcement trailer

    Like River City Ransom, the majority of the sport consists of beating up road punks, or on this case, bandits or opposing factions of warriors. Since you are in a conflict, you are often accompanied by one or two allies who combat on their very own as nicely. But River City Ransom was all the time a free and goofy brawler. Even in its day, it wasn’t as exact as Final Fight, which got here out in the exact same 12 months. River City Saga fashions itself far more after the River City Ransom type of recreation, the place motion and assaults really feel a little bit extra slippery and also you’re liable to being tossed round by enemy assaults.What River City Saga lacks in precision, although, it makes up for with a great deal of fight choices. Like RCR, you possibly can go to retailers to be taught all kinds of strikes and assign them to your punch and kick assaults, however you can too customise your aerial punches and kicks, particular results to your weapon throws, physique throws, and your particular assault. You may set particular instructions for discovered weapon varieties like swords and spears, whereas extra unconventional choices can be found, equivalent to a picket cart you possibly can roll round.Beyond that, you could have Tactics, massive, battlefield-filling results that approximate your character’s commanding armies. You can rain fiery arrows down in your foes or flood them with a deluge of water. These are restricted by a refillable Tactics meter, making them functionally work like an final transfer. But there’s additionally an precise, particularly named Ultimate Move that you could set, giving your self particular skills like slowing time.The array of choices is completely dizzying at first. And the tutorials for them are inelegant, with textual content containers that use numbers as labels, fairly than describing issues with phrases, making an additional psychological step to know what each bit of the interface is or does. Once you get the hold of it, although, it is simple to hone in on the strikes that you simply like greatest. Around midway by the marketing campaign, I discovered an aerial punch, Hawk Fist, that may let me bounce off enemies’ heads. I spent the remainder of the sport pogo-ing my method throughout the battlefield, Ducktales-style, cackling as I barely touched the bottom. It was a real hoot.The deal with comparatively large-scale battles got here with its pitfalls, although. At least on Steam Deck, I skilled a good quantity of efficiency points when a battlefield was particularly crowded, and even when visiting a city with greater than a handful of NPCs. It’s additionally simple to get overwhelmed within the scrum with the scads of squat muscle-men sprites blocking one another, so you possibly can briefly lose observe of your allies and even your self.The recreation often tries to combine up its tempo with one thing aside from battles, and these handful of moments really feel irritating and lackluster. At one level, I used to be confronted with an environmental puzzle that was in contrast to anything the sport offered earlier than or afterward, and it wasn’t terribly clear what I used to be even meant to do. Another time, I needed to full a platforming problem to climb a mountain, and in a recreation that’s actually not constructed for exact platforming, I slipped and fell again to the underside ceaselessly. There are additionally a number of fetch quests for crafting assets that pressure you to exit and punch bushes or straw bales to advance the story. These did not add to the expertise in any explicit method, and so they did not play to the sport’s strengths, so I used to be left feeling just like the expertise can be higher off with out them.Gallery Three Kingdoms is pretty quick, consisting of six chapters that final an hour or so apiece. It can final for much longer if you happen to tackle plenty of facet quests, and after finishing the primary marketing campaign, you unlock tougher difficulties with higher loot. Fast Travel between cities can be unlocked early and prices pocket change, so as soon as you have unlocked a lot of the map, it is very simple to simply hop round between battles and story sequences. But that observe may make it very talky, as you are typically simply fast-traveling from story sequence to story sequence, skipping all of the random enemy encounters you’ll naturally hit in-between.River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is not as revolutionary as River City Ransom or as subversive and modernized as River City Girls. It exists in a center floor, with a great deal of fight choices and trendy quality-of-life conveniences offered in a gameplay type paying homage to the unique NES recreation. The Three Kingdoms setting is a cute and intelligent method to contextualize the idea, making for a breezy little homage journey.

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