RIVE: Ultimate Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 17.11.2017 2

Review for RIVE: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch

After some financial difficulties in 2013 leading to Two Tribes B.V. being forced to let go of much of its workforce, the company would never be quite the same but would still stRIVE to complete its last project, RIVE. This project was very dear to its creators since they had the desire to craft a space shooter akin to Parodius since the days of the Game Boy Color. It would, however, not see the light of day until 2016. Announced for Wii U several years ago and cancelled due to it not offering quite the level of performance to run as intended, it eventually graced Steam and other consoles back in September 2016, while the Wii U version would be transferred over to what was then known as the NX. Over a year later, Two Tribes' very final release is now here as RIVE: Ultimate Edition.

Before tackling the question of the subtitle, one must first address what exactly RIVE is, in all of its incarnations. RIVE is a platformer space-shooter where a guy named Roughshot, pilot of the Spider Tank, finds an apparently abandoned ship in space and intends to search it for possible loot. He soon finds himself unable to leave the place due to an on-board AI preventing him and, thus, his adventure will quickly take a turn for the worst as he will have to fight for his own escape and survival. That adventure is mostly linear, as closed doors force the player in one general direction at all times and the story unfolds mostly through action and dialogue sequences, either via Roughshot's monologues, or talking to the AI with an insane amount of humour thrown into the writing for good measure.

In order to help Roughshot escape the ship, players will use both control sticks at the same time, with the left stick being used for movement while the right stick shoots the Spider Tank's machine gun continuously, its angle directing the turret. Pressing the ZR button shoots a secondary weapon that must first be purchased at a shopping station using the game's currency - bolts - dropped by the very robots the hero keeps on wrecking. Purchased secondary weapons can be switched on the fly using any of the four face buttons but only one single shot can be carried at any time, with refills being frequently dropped by destroyed enemy units. Last, but not least, the ZL button is used for jumping, the spider tank being able to double jump. That is, of course, if someone wants to play solo, because this Switch version being the Ultimate Edition, adds a very much anticipated co-operative mode called "co-pilot" where one player can control tank movement while the other using a second controller may control shooting and aiming and, as one should rightfully so expect, split Joy-Con work and they do work well, which means that anyone wishing to purchase the game for that co-op mode alone, but not owning any other controller than the default Joy-Con set up included in the package, should have nothing to fear. Furthermore, HD rumble is included and fully used.

Screenshot for RIVE: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch

Whether in solo or with extra help, though, instead of one single straightforward romp through the ship, the campaign is divided into smaller chunks labelled as "missions," of which the number shall not be disclosed here so as to keep readers' first playthrough as full of surprises as possible. The whole game lasts no more than a few hours, however, but probably won't be played all the way through on first attempt, in one sitting, due to its very intense nature, but certainly there will still be those out there who will seek out that challenge just because of that previous statement. It is a very arcade-like game where scoring points and keeping a combo multiplier high all the way through will be very important for those who wish to place their name high on the online leader boards. Those are not cross platform, sadly or perhaps justly so since varying input methods may otherwise put some players on other platforms, chiefly PC, at a clear advantage. However, there are leader boards for practically everything and it turns out amazing. This simple inclusion may encourage players who feel very comfortable to replay through it multiple times, all the way, for a higher full campaign score, or simply to replay through specific portions where they feel they have the best grasp, for a higher mission score.

Score isn't everything, though, as there is also an unlockable speed-run mode where one will want to get through a specific mission or, once again, the entire campaign, faster than everyone else. It's easy to see this being big with speed-runners due to its perfect implementation of this. Last, but not least, is a one-credit mode where the player must, very simply, complete either a specific mission or the whole campaign using, as the name suggests, only one credit... In other words, the player only has one life and no continues in that mode.

Screenshot for RIVE: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch

A scary prospect indeed but one that should not deter the most dedicated fans, of course, and to some it may even sound quite inviting! All of these pertain to the core - the adventure itself - but there are also a selection of challenges to tackle, such as getting rid of all cockroaches in a series of vents in a part of the ship under a time limit with, again, the prospect of the leader boards to look forward to, with varying levels of difficulty on offer. Each challenge completed unlocks the next in that mode. Finally, despite the Switch not including any built-in achievement system, this one takes the approach many developers had to take on Nintendo platforms this past decade of building them into the game itself, with the number of achievements on offer in the Ultimate Edition being increased to 48. These, coupled with the co-pilot mode, make the extent of what makes this the "ultimate" edition of the game, unless one counts that the title was optimised by Two Tribes itself to run without a single hitch on Nintendo Switch or, at least, that's what it promised before launch but happily enough, that claim turned out to be entirely accurate. The game runs at a solid 1080p 60 frames per second all the way through!

Could this be perfect then? Well, if there was just one minor gripe to be levelled towards it, that would be that when playing through the campaign and dying, it sometimes happens that the Spider Tank will re-spawn right next to a bunch of lasers or, on just one occasion during review, right in the middle of them, causing another immediate death right after the first. For someone not caring about the amount of deaths, it's just a matter of waiting to be re-spawned one more time… but for those who care, then this matters a lot... although this is not an issue exclusive to the Switch version, of course.

Furthermore, the game can be a bit more difficult to control with the tiny joysticks of the Joy-Con than with the larger, more comfortable sticks of the Pro Controller, especially when it comes to aiming shots, but that's not the fault of the game itself and just requires a more careful and precise handling of that type of controller.

Screenshot for RIVE: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch

It's hard to fault RIVE on anything else. The soundtrack by Sonic Picnic, the humour that references everything in pop culture from other videogames to music or even movies, the brilliant visuals that despite apparently being fully 2D (it can be hard to tell at times) manage to blow away with careful use of depth of field blur, and masterfully, realised lighting effects, the action itself, intense and keeping the player on his or her toes all the way through... It's easy to picture players sitting at the edge of their seat with this one. Surprisingly, for a game of this type, it does not limit itself to just one specific form of action. Most of it plays as a platformer for sure, but in other sections it turns into a side-on, auto-scrolling old school shmup, while in others the player is free to travel around in zero gravity. That would already be enough to make it original in its own right to be deemed good but it goes yet another extra mile to set itself apart by allowing the player to hack into the system of certain enemy machines at a press of the L or R button, only after Roughshot has located a capsule containing a portion of said machine's source code.

These allow Roughshot to use med-bots to his advantage, or enemy turrets as extra fire-power, which is awesome. More powers such as these are found later, but will be left for potential buyers to find out about for themselves as this game, to anyone being remotely interested by a good challenge, is well worth every penny and was undoubtedly well worth the long wait. It is indeed a very challenging title even on the standard difficulty setting, but it never seems or feels unfair and overcoming obstacles gracefully truly feels amazing, and that's what everyone should expect from this type of game. Two Tribes' final hurrah is a testament to the development team's talent for making highly polished experiences.

Screenshot for RIVE: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Offering intense twin stick action from beginning to end, RIVE: Ultimate Edition can easily fit into the "so hard it's good" category, along with the likes of Sine Mora EX, also on Nintendo Switch. With plenty of modes ensuring excellent replay value, it's hard to find a better offering in that category on Switch right now. Excellent art, and a level of performance that even exceeds that of the PS4 version, plus Sonic Picnic's excellent soundtrack, coupled to the most complete version yet that can be enjoyed anywhere, make this the best version of what was already a truly great experience before... making it even more painful to think that Two Tribes is now no more.

Developer

Two Tribes

Publisher

Two Tribes

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Our member of the week

If anyone is interested in unlocking the "Willy" achievement to play the Dutch Anthem on the main menu, this is how you do it, courtesy of Martijn Reuvers of Two Tribes for the first half, the rest I had to figure out on my own.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I'm so glad they've included a multiplayer option. That was one of my suggestions back when they were asking for ideas on how to improve the game on Switch.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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