|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Marvelous Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 29, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2-4 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
River King: Mystic Valley (RK: MV) for the Nintendo DS marks the return of the franchise to handheld gaming. For those of you unfamiliar with past Legend of the River King titles, they have had a storied career covering a total of ten different gaming platforms. Consequently, the series has created a devoted cult following!
The Legend of the River King RPG fishing titles take players through a world of lakes, rivers, ponds, and swamps in search of the great fish, River King. This time around, RK: MV utilizes the power of the DS by employing both the touch screen controls and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Like previous editions, the game is quite lengthy and provides players with a lot of character-building opportunities, an interesting story, and various side quests. Unfortunately, the challenging fishing mechanic of its predecessors is now overly simplistic due to the touch controls. That being said, the game will still appeal to hardcore fans.
River King: Mystic Valley is published by Natsume. As such, it has a lot of similarities to the Harvest Moon series; the cute characters and pastoral setting idealize the simple life and extol the virtues of a hard day's work. As the game's hero, you'll have to find a cure for your ailing sister, Yunna. The poor thing has been enchanted by the fey power of the surrounding forest, fallen fast asleep, and simply cannot wake up. It's your job to scour the fresh water depths and secure the blessing of the giant fish known as the River King in order to cure her mysterious affliction.
At its core, River King is a fishing title. Consequently, you're going to spend the majority of your time casting and waiting. This can be tedious, but thankfully you'll also catch a lot of fish. Each fish that you reel in will give you a certain amount of points (SP) depending upon the fish's scarcity and size. Accumulating SP will allow you to purchase new equipment, rods, bait, lures, flies, creels, and other useful items including Drops, Guidances, and Flutes. All of these products will prove to be invaluable. In addition to gaining SP, the more fish you catch, the more experience you will earn. This is where the RPG element comes into play. Becoming a better fisherman will allow you to face greater challenges and attract the rarest and largest fish species.
As you quest through the eight locations, you'll encounter several different side quests. These include rearing pets, completing requests from the people you meet, competing in fishing contests, participating in mini-games, collecting plants, bugs, and fish in the forest, and accumulating trading cards. Other than the pet collecting quest, none of these missions are necessary to complete. However, they do provide for longer gameplay and are quite challenging. This is especially true of the trading card collection side quest. There are 146 cards in all that are acquired by collecting multiple individuals of every fish (106), bug (20), and plant (20) species.The most important of these side missions is the rearing of your pets. On your quest you will encounter three forest spirits you will befriend and raise while cultivating their unique powers. Using these powers to your advantage will prove to be essential in completing the story. Unfortunately, these three pets cannot be used simultaneously. That means you'll be frequently switching between them back at your house. This seemed pretty unnecessary and should have been done away with. Nevertheless, raising these spirits is an interesting side quest which will have you working hard, stuffing them full of tasty fish, and watching them as they grow. After all, as they become more powerful, they become more useful. This aspect gives the game an almost Pokémon-like feel, but since there are only three pets to find, it's not nearly as complex.