River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review thumbnail

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review

Kunio goes to China

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS4 on 👊

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is also available for Nintendo Switch

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

Tough-guy Kunio is at it again and this time, he's taking it to the streets of ancient China so here's River City Saga: Three Kingdoms.

A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2022. 🐻

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms screenshot 1
Kunio brought a friend along for the party

Historical Period Drama!

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is the third game I played where Kunio and gang take the roles of historical figures or fantasy characters with the first being Downtown Special Kunio-kun's Historical Period Drama! for Famicom which was featured in Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle and the second being River City: Knights of Justice for 3DS. Whereas those titles are set in ancient Japan and a fantasy RPG world, River City Saga: Three Kingdoms follows events from China's history; primarily spanning the Yellow Turban Rebellion all the way to the Battle of Red Cliffs. I quite enjoy these spin-offs because they put the familiar cast in a less conventional setting and the gameplay usually accommodates. Thankfully, I can easily say that this is the best period drama Kunio-kun spin-off yet. v1d30chumz 35-175-107-185

River City: Knights of Justice Review

A touch of Musou

The first thing I noticed about River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is how its battles are usually against many adversaries as opposed to just 2 or 3 at a time like in most Kunio-kun games. At its core, the gameplay is what you'd expect where you can punch, kick, jump, and grab and throw enemies as well as found weapons. It's a ton of fun, especially while playing cooperatively with a friend although the battles definitely become super-chaotic which is both fun and frustrating at times, especially when a dozen or so enemies are ganging up on you. Overall, this frantic dynamic makes for a welcome change of pace and I had a blast working through the campaign. 😄

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms screenshot 2
Someone's about to be body-slammed

Kunio ups his arsenal

Kunio takes the role of Guan Yu in River City Saga: Three Kingdoms and his capabilities in battle are dictated via many rewarding RPG elements. Whether a meal provides a specific boost or you level-up to spend points on upgrading your base stats; getting the upper-hand in battle is always a treat. On top of that, you can purchase equipment pieces and find scrolls that can expand your repertoire of available special moves. Optimizing your move loadout is the most involving aspect of setting up your character and experimenting with various combinations is rather entertaining. You'll also acquire access to Tactics which act as special screen-clearing attacks and utilize various food items to replenish health along your travels. All of this adds up to a rewarding system that'll keep you tweaking as you play. 🥟

A lot to see and do

In addition to all of the RPG elements, there are a lot of quests to take on which will provide helpful rewards as well as increase your reputation. Good thing there's a fast-travel option that allows you to warp to most locations on the map although it costs a bit of money in order to do so. Now that I mention it, it's quite impressive how interconnected the game world is and I had a great deal of fun running around to discover new areas. At the same time, there are platforming segments that can be incredibly irritating with timed platforms and precision jumps which are made even more annoying by the fact that it's unclear whether you're lined up with things. Also, I came across a couple moments when I had no idea what to do. How the heck do I push those red buttons to cross Xiapi and defeat Lu Bu? 🤔

Ancient Chinese secret

Finally, River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is bursting with secrets. From hidden shops to bonus areas, exploring every nook and cranny is always enjoyable. There are even multiple endings for each chapter that rely on your reputation level so replaying the campaign while being as useless as possible will result in many hilarious situations. If that's not a solid replay incentive then I don't know what is. Last but not least, I loved discovering Ultimate Attacks which you unlock by using various Special Attacks to defeat enemies. There seems to be a lot of them so keep experimenting and perhaps you'll unlock some that no one else has uncovered yet. 😊

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms screenshot 3
Time for a quick tea break before the next brawl

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is one of the best Kunio-kun games for the simple fact that it's jam-packed with content in its hilarious world that's set in ancient China. It makes me wonder which historical period drama Kunio will star in next.

  • + Classic Kunio-kun gameplay with some welcome twists and fun RPG elements
  • + Rewarding quests and character growth
  • + Loads of nifty secrets to discover
  • - Some fights can get too chaotic
  • - Platforming segments are a huge pain
  • - A few "what do I do now?" moments
7.9 out of 10
Gameplay video for River City Saga: Three Kingdoms thumbnail
Watch A.J. play River City Saga: Three Kingdoms
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