River City Rival Showdown – Review

River City Rival Showdown Review Featured Image
Release Date
October 11, 2023
Aplus Games
Arc System Works
PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Reviewed on

Oh boy, how quickly that crashed down. River City: Rival Showdown, or Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari in JP. It is a rebuilt River City Ransom to celebrate the series’ 30th Anniversary, initially released on the Nintendo 3DS and has since been remastered for the Switch, PS4, and on Steam, released last October 13, 2023, by Aplus Games and Arc System Works. Let’s get on with the review.

First off, the story. It’s a rebuilt version of River City Ransom, albeit done quite well all throughout. You play as Kunio, the legendary badass from Nekketsu High. Still set months after Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun, the arcade game is also known in the US as Renegade. In the span of 5 days (counting The Day Before and the Final Showdown for ease), you go around the city, talking and fighting people all over to learn stuff and level up.

Ultimately, it all ends with a climactic fight against the Four Heavenly Kings of Reiho Academy, and later on against Kunio’s childhood friend Yamada. With how good it went and with other endings available, it’s quite well and still has the stinger to River City: Super Sports Challenge. Talk about sticking to the source material!

The controls, however, are something worth talking about. Inputs are delayed, and in the early stages of the game, you will find yourself kissing pavement more often than not from getting mobbed by enemies, and finding yourself resetting the progress you made and starting from Day 1 several times just to make it a bit further, again and again. Heck, the only thing that doesn’t have input lag is blocking, but considering how your enemies tend to mob you from behind, it’s a really, really bad time if you’re starting out. Talk about sticking it to the source material.

The music for the game, especially if you use retro music, really captures the fun and intense moments of the game’s entire storyline, from the tense moments where the Hattori twins appeared to the encounters against the Four Heavenly Kings, and even the rooftop battle against Yamada, the music frames them all like the classic Nekketsu genre movies like the ones Hitoshi Ozawa (Daisaku Kuze from Yakuza 0) starred in.

Now, for some complaints. The controller bug still has to be fixed, and the wait is killing me. I played it with the Split Pad Pro adapter, switched between the Daemon X Machina and the one it came with, and then changed to the Hori FPS Plus, still janky. Even when I changed to a PS4 controller, it’s still a mess to use.

The difficulty is brought on full force right as you start the game. You get no mercy from either the Hattori twins, the masked goons, or the brainwashed and ax-crazy students you fight to bring your EXP up fast just to make sure you stand a good chance at survival from early to mid-game, not to mention the uniform setups you can make to ensure even more stat boosts.

This time, let me talk about the plus sides of the game. Skill books are available, and frequent use of them unlocks stronger forms or even special skills which deal massive damage, but also eat up a lot of your SP in exchange. Good trade for a well-timed special skill usage that decimates a whole group in a single usage.

River City: Rival Showdown is not that good the way it stands right now, so if you’re planning to purchase it, at least wait until patches come in and fix the issues it has in-game so you can play better, but for now, this River City Story is better left floating. In the words of Joe Bob Briggs, “Two and a half stars!”

River City Rival Showdown Review Featured Image
River City Rival Showdown – Review
Score Definition
We want to emphasize that 5 will always be the “average” number, not 7. So by far, it’s 50% great and it’s also 50% bad.
8-bit soundtrack is intact and just as fun as it was before.
The story overhaul is done really well.
Attack lag is a pain which you let you get mobbed HARD.
The tightness of the true ending requirements.