Legend of the River King is a fishing simulator-RPG developed by Victor Interactive Software, now known as Marvelous Entertainment, a company widely known for its Harvest Moon series, which has seen success throughout many different regions, including its homeland of Japan. However, there's another franchise which predates that, known as the River King series in western territories. Cubed3 takes a look at the first localised instalment in the River King series to see if it's a worthwhile catch.
Legend of the River King was originally released on the Game Boy Color in Europe back in 1999 and the first game in the series to receive a release outside Japan. When the game first starts off, players are immediately placed in a scene in which the main character's mother tells him that his sister has fallen ill and that the Guardian Fish must be caught in order to cure her. This opening scene has a classic Pokémon vibe, especially due to the similar art style. It sounds a little farfetched, but as far as stories in fishing games go, it's as good as it gets.
After this unfortunate news, players can then step outside their house and begin their journey to find this illustrious fish. Of course, players can't just go ahead and catch this fish - first they must gain experience in fishing by catching various different species, using different baits, lures and hooks. A few tasks must first be carried out in the starting settlement, in order to gain access to a raft and head out to various different locations, home to reservoirs of water containing even more species. There are 40 different types of fish to discover and once one of each variation has been caught, a nice little bonus area is unlocked to do some more fishing!
When players first start the game, the fishing mechanic may seem a little cryptic, due to there being a lack of explanation. The best way to make successful catches is to cast out the rod and wait for a bite, let the fish swim until it gets tired out, then reel in the line until the fish starts pulling on it again. Once players have gotten the hang of the basic fishing mechanics, they must then start to try out different sized hooks and bait, which is required to catch the many diverse species.
There are two modes to try out in Legend of the River King. The first one is the main story, which is known as Select Fish Mode, with the second one being Raise Mode, a side game in which players can raise a fish and watch it grow into different species by feeding it and keeping the tank clear of dirt. Although most players won't spend much time in this mode, it is a welcome addition for those that enjoy virtual pets.
As well as catching different types of fish, players will also be pitted against various enemies such as bears, bats, spiders and more. These are encountered in tall grass areas and, by defeating these enemies, players will gain experience points to increase their HP. These battles play out in a unique fashion, in which the idea is to wait for a fist icon to appear over the enemy portrait and quickly tap the A button in order to deal damage with a devastating punch.
In Legend of the River King, HP acts as both the character's health and stamina, which will deplete upon taking damage and rowing the raft. When the player's HP reaches zero, they will collapse and then wake up in the nearest inn, so it's a good idea to use the HP bar for only taking damage and use water currents to navigate the raft.
Perhaps one of the most interesting genre mash-ups - fishing simulator meets RPG. From punching wild animals, to using various hooks and baits to catch a variety of different fish, this is quite a unique experience for fishing fanatics.
Great 8-bit visuals with some lovely vibrant greens and blues, somewhat reminiscent to the Pokémon games on the Game Boy Color.
Legend of the River King features feel-good, chirpy tracks throughout, with some charming ambient sound effects being played whilst waiting for a fish to bite.
Unfortunately, the game is pretty short, with it only lasting a few hours at best. There are a few little extras, such as the Raise Mode and the special area to unlock after catching all 40 types of fish, but these won't last the average player very long.
Legend of the River King offers one of the most unique approaches to a fishing simulator by including various RPG elements and a story, albeit a farfetched one. Due to the fishing element not being explained in depth at the beginning of the game, players may have a hard time understanding and will want to give up pretty quickly. This, and the fact that the story doesn't last too long is pretty disappointing. For those looking for an original experience, Legend of the River King excels in this regard. However, anyone after a lengthy adventure may be let down with the short campaign on offer here.