River City Melee: Battle Royal SP (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 13.05.2017

Review for River City Melee: Battle Royal SP on PlayStation 4

The Kunio games from Technos has proven to be a long lasting legacy that began as a simple beat 'em up and expanded to various genres, like dodgeball, hockey and even soccer/football. The franchise has been around for over 30 years, now, and yet the characters have always remained distinct - about 100 of them to be exact. The time has come for all the schools in River City to throw-down to settle who is the toughest and baddest of them all... or maybe Cubed3 is better off going to detention instead.

On the surface, River City Melee: Battle Royal SP shows a lot of promise. Four teams of five thugs pick out their best fighter and the four punks duke it out in an arena. After the round ends, the choice to continue to use the best fighter or to bench him in exchange for a fighter with full health but weaker stats presents itself. This is the best aspect of Battle Royal SP, since it is a real choice that can make the second and third rounds much harder than normal. This no-nothing moment in a menu between rounds proves to be the more interesting moments in a game that is about Japanese delinquents, which really shouldn't be the case. The Kunio games should be more fun than this, and it is all because of a much too limited and simplistic combat system that does not work for a fighting game like this.

At its core, River City Melee: Battle Royal SP is supposed to be more of a four-way party brawler than a technical tournament fighter. With about 25 teams each with five fighters, expect about 70% of those characters to be junk for the purposes of strategy and tough choices. The frustrating part is that even the best characters' moves don't always amount to much and are only really effective because they have good stats - not because they have a good move set. The obvious team leader will always have the better moves and will have more of them, while the rest of the team will have maybe one or two with some exceptions.

Screenshot for River City Melee: Battle Royal SP on PlayStation 4

The graphics are obviously a throwback to the classic pixel art from the original River City Ransom on the NES, with fully 3D rendered environments. It's a charming look for sure, but the style clashes with the competitive fighting direction the game strives for, since character frames and animation are extremely limited, which makes many matches a crapshoot. Most of the time, victories can be won by cheesing enemy AI and using the same effective moves to carefully time a stun lock followed by a brief retreat. This is where Battle Royal SP completely falls apart and the inner workings reveal themselves that this game is not the sum of its parts.

The Kunio legacy deserves better than River City Melee: Battle Royal SP, which will be forgotten, or at best be remembered as that really boring spinoff game with no depth. This felt like a smaller mode that was part of a bigger game, and anyone who loves Kunio should just skip this. Do not be charmed by its cool and retro exterior; this punk should be expelled.

Screenshot for River City Melee: Battle Royal SP on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


River City Melee Battle Royal SP is not tough, but rather a big stinkin' BARF! Hopefully this misfire has not damaged the Kunio legacy and maybe one day it will get another chance at redemption. The presentation here was top notch and one of the best looking entries in the franchise. It is too bad it got wasted on such a boring and uninvolving brawling game.


Arc System Works







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

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   


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