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River King: Mystic Valley review

Troubled
AT A GLANCE
  • Some cute creatures
  • Babbling brooks and forest sounds
  • Playing Rune Factory instead
  • Stylus confusion reigns
  • Unimaginative fishing controls
  • Graphics not up to usual DS standard

We’re well used to RPG characters being somewhat unhelpful, but in River King the miserable sods take great pleasure in deliberately obstructing your quest. If we had a sword or a nice spiky ball on a stick, things might be different. But with just a fishing rod and a bag of bait, people don’t have the incentive to get out of your way.

It’s the usual story: your sister has fallen into a deep sleep - otherwise known as a coma - which can only be cured by a fishy cup of tea made from the scales of the legendary River King. She’s just lying on the floor, snoring. She’s not on a drip and there’s no doctor. Face facts - if you don’t find that damned thing, she’s dead.

So you go out and catch fish to bribe people into doing something as trivial as helping you push a log into the water. They tell you to find five of this or five of that, and they sit there watching as you spend hours trying to guess which of the dark shadows under the water is the type of fish they want. Then they tell you to go get some more.

It’s an annoying way of stretching out a very skimpy game. The RPG elements of previous River King titles are pushed into the background, leaving just a basic fishing sim with crap graphics and fiddly controls. You can boost the levels of the "monster children" you meet and adopt along the way, but the main character just walks around, repeats the same inane snippets of chat and spends forever waiting for a bite.

It doesn’t help that there’s a knack/glitch to the fishing which, once discovered, removes what little challenge there is, reducing the whole game to a very boring time-sink. After a while you won’t care whether the sister succumbs to an eternal sleep or not, when you can just eject the cartridge and play something more interesting.

You’d be better off with River King’s sister title Rune Factory, which has a little bit of fishing alongside a much better main RPG.

Jun 9, 2008

More Info

Release date: Apr 22 2008 - DS (US)
Available Platforms: DS
Published by: Natsume
Developed by: Marvelous Interactive
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

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