River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is a side-scrolling brawler developed
with love, full of humor and surprisingly rich in content. You won’t
find a more charming series in this genre and Three Kingdoms shows how
much you can still squeeze out of it by improving its formula.
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms leads with an incredible premise and promising gameplay tools, only to become encumbered by those very same elements. Your dreams of hot-blooded conquest in imperial China can be realized eventually, though you'll wish that experience had been available right from the beginning! [Issue #61 – September/October 2022, p. 27]
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms should've been a great beat 'em up that took the Downtown Special: Kunio-kun's Historical Period Drama concept to a Romance of the Three Kingdoms setting, but the lack of gameplay polish holds it back on Nintendo Switch. Hopefully Arc System Works revisits this in the future for another entry.
Aside from the neo-retro presentation and moving some actions to separate buttons, River City Saga: Three Kingdoms delivers almost exactly what its concept suggests. It plays like one of the best beat-em-ups from thirty years ago, with all that implies. The farcical retelling of the Three Kingdoms provides a fun excuse for the action, and you’ll have a whole lot of goofy thrills if you opt to play it via the extensive co-op multiplayer options. I could do without the terrible platforming bits and I wish it had the courage to shake the formula up a little more, but those who love River City will find this scratches the itch well enough.
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is a fun yet flawed beat ‘em up. The neat historical aspect and familair faces should appeal to fans, though it’s marred by performance issues and a convoluted map system.
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms feels like an incredibly nostalgia-driven game, aimed specifically at those who hold classic beat-’em-ups, the River City games in particular, close to their hearts. And for that audience, I think they’ll be very satisfied with what River City Saga has to offer. For people like me, who have less nostalgia for the franchise, they may struggle to understand the repetitive nature and overall appeal of River City Saga: Three Kingdoms.
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms offers solid brawler gameplay and an open world that you can get around conveniently. Combat feels impactful, and the story even has its moments. Unnecessary complexity, slippery platforming, and a tone that never quite hits make this a game primarily for the series’ faithful and big-time brawler fans who have played most of the genre’s more successful recent releases.
SummaryThe River City cast of characters step onto the stage of the Three Kingdoms to wreak havoc! This title takes the concept of the beloved Downtown Special: River City Historical Drama! game and crosses international lines to tell the tale of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Watch the wacky and comedic action unfold as our hero Guan Yu (y...