River King: Mystic Valley review

Chumming the waters for excitement...

GamesRadar+ Verdict


  • +

    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

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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 titleRune Factory, which has a little bit of fishing alongside a much better main RPG.

Jun 9, 2008

More info

DescriptionThis RPG is about as dull as fishing in real life is - only instead of a six pack screwing with your motor skills, you've got the worst stylus control scheme ever.
US censor rating"Everyone"
UK censor rating""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Freelance Journalist

Martin Kitts is a veteran of the video game journalism field, having worked his way up through the ranks at N64 magazine and into its iterations as NGC and NGamer. Martin has contributed to countless other publications over the years, including GamesRadar+, GamesMaster, and Official Xbox Magazine.