River City Melee Mach (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 28.10.2019

Review for River City Melee Mach on Nintendo Switch

This is it true believers! Over 180 of River City's wildest warriors are about to throw down in the brawl to end all brawls. Welcome to River City Melee Mach!!, the ultimate fighting tournament! Kunio, Nekketsu's toughest delinquent and all around good guy, has formed a fierce team to take on all challengers. The Outlaws, no strangers to brutality, are ready to crush anyone that gets in their way. Not content with sitting at the side-lines, the Cheerleaders have entered in the hopes of uncovering the mysteries surrounding the event's benefactors. Without a doubt, our heroes and heroines are ready to put it all on the line. If the thought of participating in this action-packed extravaganza has you feeling queasy, then you might want to take a breather. Otherwise, the high-impact insanity is guaranteed to make you 'BARF!'

Beat 'em ups, by their very nature, are designed to be both accessible and violent. Anyone can jump in and throw punches with reckless abandon. However, in practically every case, it takes more than button-mashing to survive. This was very apparent during the golden age of arcades. To the untrained eye, Final Fight is exceedingly simple. However, unless you know what you're doing, getting anywhere past Stage 2 simply isn't going to happen. In spite of appearances, a well-designed "belt scroller" requires meticulous players who leave nothing to chance. They're likely to spend hours learning enemy behaviour, character positioning, and the cheap tactics that'll help take them all the way to the ending credits.

Now, most are probably wondering what all of this has to do with River City Melee Mach!! Those not experienced in the genre may think that Arc System Works' latest brawler isn't all that similar to the arcade titles of yore. Rather than have four players team up to punch out vicious crime lords and rescue kidnapped girlfriends, this pits everyone against each other. Using the controls and physics of the Kunio-Kun franchise as its base, you're going to fight the meanest delinquents around. If you're familiar with titles like River City: Rival Showdown, then you'll know exactly what to expect. Punches and kicks are commonplace, but so are flying uppercuts, killer head-butts, and weapons galore. There are over 200 wild and crazy ways to inflict pain onto another person. Somehow, you've got to make sense of all this senseless violence, and win the tournament.

Screenshot for River City Melee Mach on Nintendo Switch

Unlike many of the other entries in the franchise, this one eschews the pesky RPG elements entirely. There aren't any hamburgers that make your punches stronger, nor is there a legendary pair of pants that boosts your stats sky high. Experience of an entirely different kind is required to win. Practice, knowledge, and execution are all that matters. Further complicating matters is the sheer number of playable characters. There are 30 teams, all representing various rival schools and factions. Each team consists of six fighters. Right off the bat, that's 180 playable characters, and they all have their own special moves. One might say it's ridiculous, and that nobody could possibly memorize that many characters. Don't forget about the potentially infinite situations that can occur, when everyone is in the same arena. In all actuality, this is exactly what makes the fights so interesting. The fun is in utilizing fundamentals to overcome the unpredictable.

To give a better idea of how the tournament works; an explanation of the basics is in order. After the four players decide on their teams, they must then choose who will participate in the first round. Typically, a match is comprised of two or more rounds. The immediate goal is to be the last man (or woman) standing, but there's another very important factor to consider: the score. Every hit that you land on the opposition will result in points. The team with the highest score at the end of the match is the winner. In other words, if you run away and hide while everyone else battles it out, then your chances of winning are going to be nil. Only the most cunning and ruthless have a chance at the top spot.

One of the most compelling aspects of each match are the strategies you're liable to implement. For example, the winner of the previous round is guaranteed to have a bullseye on their back. The idea of course is that if they're quickly eliminated, then it'll prevent them from earning more points, and extending their lead. Even though four-player bouts are prone to disorder, there is an undercurrent of critical thought that governs every move. You also have to consider the character you're using. It might be a good idea to save the exceptionally strong team-leaders for the later rounds. If they're exhausted early on, then you can't rely on them to obliterate the weak third-stringers.

Screenshot for River City Melee Mach on Nintendo Switch

While it is difficult to memorize hundreds of moves, you should at least be aware of what each team is capable of. For example, the heroes of River City: Knights of Justice are most effective when they're wielding wooden weapons. You'll have to take their sticks away, in order to avoid getting subjected to an endless 'Grand Slam' pummelling. Sonokawa, the leader of Senridai High School, crushes the opposition with his explosive… err, farts. Expect the little twerp to try and let one off, while you're distracted by other opponents. Lion Union trades devious antics for raw destruction. Stay away from Majishi, and pelt him with projectiles. The hockey-masked brute has a spinning pile driver that'll ruin anyone's day.

Note, however, there are teams that are a less effective than they should be. The Reiho Sports Club has some fun sports-themed attacks, including a chop that'll send enemies flying like volleyballs. Unfortunately, they have very low HP compared to other teams, so they won't survive for very long. The Outlaws fight dirty, but again they have trouble staying alive. Notice the pattern? While it's understandable for large characters like Majishi and Misuzu to have a lot of HP, a sizable portion of the cast doesn't have much to work with. Furthermore, they don't seem to have especially useful moves to counteract this handicap. On the bright side, it's possible to build custom teams, and weed out the losers.

The arenas can be just as dangerous as your rivals. Many of them have some sort of gimmick, such as collapsing floors, or heavy winds that push everyone over the edge. One of the stranger locales is a soccer field. If you can manage to kick the ball into the goal, all of your rivals will take damage. A large variety of weapons and items are also lying about. If there's a healing drink on the ground, expect everyone to fight for control of it. Between the huge roster, weapons, and arena layouts, no two matches are ever really the same. Indeed, the possibilities are endless. Don't feel too bad if you end up losing, because there are just that many variables to account for. A number of options, including the amount of weapons, can be customized to your liking.

Screenshot for River City Melee Mach on Nintendo Switch

The Battle Royale is just one of many modes in River City Melee Mach!! Next on the list is Team Attack. This time, four players engage in what can be considered a tornado tag match. Naturally, having a friend to help out will result in wildly different strategies. Allow your buddy to run interference, while you use Sonokawa's farts to eliminate the competition. Whatever the case, don't let your partner get defeated. It takes a lot of skill to overcome a 2-on-1 assault. Change Matches are tests of endurance. Whenever someone is eliminated, the participant is required to choose someone else. Rounds don't end until time runs out, or absolutely everyone is beaten. The appearance of power-up boxes adds to the mayhem. Endless Battle is a single-player survival mode. It's fun, but tends to favour characters that have really good special moves.

There's also a story mode. After selecting a team, one must then fight a series of bouts to see their story to its conclusion. It starts off promising enough, with cut-scenes that adequately explain everyone's motivation for participating. However, the first few matches are all Battle Royales, which probably wasn't the best idea. Chaotic brawls are lots of fun, but not when they're required to progress. To put it another way, it doesn't matter who wins, just as long as you lose. The first few matches consist of the opposition immediately ganging up on you. Even on the easy setting, landing a hit on the enemy can be difficult. It's extremely aggravating when everyone is spamming their special moves at once. The enemy AI can also be really inconsistent. Sometimes they're countering all of your moves, other times they're goofing off. It's enough to make you pull your hair out. At least the endings are pretty amusing.

If pummelling friends or the AI ever becomes tiring, it might be time to take your abilities to the next level. The online mode allows one to challenge rivals from all over the world. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with niche titles, good luck finding someone to play against. While there are some elements that could use more fine-tuning, this is still a very entertaining brawler. The mechanics are satisfyingly deep, and expert players are rewarded for knowing when and where to throw a punch. There are loads of neat details, such as juggling combos, the ability to catch objects thrown by enemies, and deflecting special moves with a timely jab. Learning the intricacies of every technique and experimenting with the entire cast will suck up a lot of free time. The basics are also very easy to understand, so even those who aren't intimately familiar with the Kunio-Kun franchise can immediately jump in.

Screenshot for River City Melee Mach on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

At times, River City Melee Mach!! struggles under the weight of its own ambition. Attempting to balance a competitive brawler that features over 180 playable characters is a herculean task. It seems that the developer realized this, and focused its attention on making sure this is simply a joy to play. There will be times where nothing goes the way a player likes. Wins and losses aren't decided by chance, but random occurrences are bound to crop up. Nevertheless, Kunio-Kun fans will find a lot to like here. Even when matches devolve into complete disarray, they're still quite enjoyable. For best results, try and find a few friends to fight with.


Arc System Works


Arc System Works





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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