(GBC / Game Boy Color)

Legend of the River King (GBC / Game Boy Color)

Game Review

Legend of the River King Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Nothing smells fishy here

Natsume is mostly known for its Harvest Moon games, but what you might not know is that there is another long-running series from the same developer - in fact, its first game predates the first Harvest Moon by 6 years. Legend of the River King is one of only four games in this series released outside Japan, and it's now been re-released on the 3DS Virtual Console. How does it fare these days?

Although it might seem like a simple fishing title, there is more to the game than meets the eye. You don't just hop in a boat and go fishing - there are actually several RPG elements at play. Alongside these elements the story is fairly wacky - your sister has fallen ill, and you must find and catch the Guardian Fish, which supposedly has magical healing powers, to cure her.

Of course, that's not an easy task, and you'll have to catch many other fish and talk to people to find out where the Guardian Fish is located first. Being the main part of the game, catching fish is also not very simple; you'll have to buy and use various different rods, hooks, lures, tools and bait to get specific fish, all of which naturally cost money.

On top of all that, the riversides are crawling with monsters. Thankfully, monster battles are a bit different from usual RPG fights - after selecting attack, a little fist will begin appearing in different places on the screen. Simply press the button when it's over the enemy to deal damage, but don't take too long or it'll speed up. It's recommended to fight a number of battles throughout the game, as gaining experience will increase your health, which will let you cast your lines out further, row across rivers faster and, of course, give you more life in fights.

Once you're fully geared up and ready to catch some fish, you'll find that it's actually quite similar to fishing in 3D Zelda games. Simply cast out your line and wait for a nibble - the screen will then change to an underwater view and you'll have to attempt to reel in your catch. Just like in the Zelda series, simply reeling in constantly won't always do the trick - try to only do weak pulls, waiting until the fish gets tired before reeling it in all the way.

Graphically and musically, this is kind of similar to the first few Pokémon games, though with the rather neat addition of ambient sounds that play while waiting for a bite. At the time of its original release, it was released for both Game Boy and Game Boy Color - it's the Color version on offer here, so you'll also be able to enjoy a nice, colourful game world, instead of one made up of various shades of black and grey.

While this game is quite enjoyable, there is one fairly annoying flaw - it eventually comes to an end. And that "eventually" will actually come pretty fast; it's not terribly long, so it'll be over before you know it. After beating the game, you'll unlock a special fishing area which features every single fish in the game, a nice place to throw some lines if you want to fill in your list of fish.


Legend of the River King might be a short ride, but it's highly entertaining while it lasts; there's not really any other fishing-focused RPG out there, making the series pretty unique. Its Game Boy Color sequel was also released worldwide, so perhaps we'll see that on the 3DS Virtual Console too, someday.

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User Comments (46)



HawkeyeWii said:

Interesting, never heard of this game. It is by the same people as Harvest Moon, so can't go wrong there! You just can't beat a good retro GBC game.



gurtifus said:

Didn't wait for the review before buying it but I couldn't go wrong...
So playing this right now, it's a peaceful pace game.
The difficulty is to guess what to choose to catch the different kind of fish.



RetrogamerFan said:

Good review. Will d/l this, it will make up for the lack of other titles that interest me on this week's update.
At the price I'm not worried if the game is a bit short-lived, sounds like it should be good fun and hopefully a good chill-out game; i've got Ghosts 'n' Goblins and MegaMan (1) d/l'd but not started, this will be ideal to fit in between playing those two games.



BenAV said:

I've had a good time playing through this over the last few days.
I'll buy the sequel if it gets released, assuming it's as enjoyable as this one was.



tom_q said:

I downloaded this at the weekend and still have not managed to catch anything, they always get away!



gurtifus said:

@tom_q :
1) just let the fish stops swimming by himself
2) press and hold A or B to reel the line in until you hear a sound telling your line is stressed (the fish appears to go back at this moment)
3) so release A or B
4) and goto 1
and so on until you catch it.



SLiM said:

All I remember about this game was punching the bears in the wild. I enjoyed the fishing as well. Been many, many years since I touched this game.



Whopper744 said:

Still cant' seem to find the price anywhere. Anybody on here know what it is??

Can't get online with my 3DS here at work.



DarkCoolEdge said:

You lost me with "quite similar to fishing in 3D Zelda games". It's the worst thing in those games. Bummer.



Windy said:

I really liked the DS version of River King I might get this one. The DS Version had so many bells and whistles though, Online play a great fishing mechanic and was just a fun play



Windy said:

@FernandoMachado There is the Nintendo DS Version which has a huge storyline to follow with just a huge amount of places to fish and online multiplayer play



LittleIrves said:

The fact this is has a short campaign is actually a good thing in my mind. I hate putting games down without finishing them, but I just don't have time to go through multiple 20-30+ hour games. And at the VC budget price, I'd prefer something short and sweet. Hope it comes stateside soon.



Whopper744 said:

ookaay. Just gathered that I guess this isn't out in the US. Missed that part of the review when I first read it. I guess that's why there isn't a price for it.



Dpishere said:

Looks more complex than you would think it would be. I have some interest in fishing games and the fact that this also happens to be an rpg has me looking to buy this at some point in time.



Dpullam said:

This is one of the few game boy color games on the eshop that I'm really interested in. Even if it is a short game I believe it will be well worth my time and money because of how unique it is.



retro_player_22 said:

Awesome, so glad they release this. This is what the Natsume farmboy was doing before he became a farmer in the Harvest Moon series.



eltomo said:

I've rarely touched the shop, but at long last... It has my attention



Zodiak13 said:

I cant;t remember hardly a thing about this game, but I remember enjoying it. Day 1 DL for me when it gets to the US.



MeWario said:

Cool thanks guys! Been waiting for your review to see if I should get this. It sounds great!! Downloading now



KiwiPanda said:

From the first time I saw it in the US eShop (Trailer), I was excited
Beforehand, I had never heard of it. Harvest Moon might be coming out at around the same time here in the US (Still no release date for either here >:[), so Natsume may be getting lots of VC buys sometime soon.
@Joshers - For the US, I believe all that has been announced for both HM and River King is that they're coming
I also read that there was a part where you could raise a fish in your personal aquarium. I'll assume that's not true or at least not for this VC version?
Great read and review. Cleared some stuff up for me and confirmed that I'll be getting it as soon as it comes out.



Fillytase said:

This game seems interesting. How much is it? I can't go on my 3DS at the moment to check and I can't find it in NL's database of eShop games. Edit: Oh... it says on the side panel. Didn't realize this was UK/EU only for now.



ouroborous said:

Wow, yet another game that no one EVER EVER EVER heard of. I guess it's good that these games are getting a second chance and thank goodness that the Zelda Oracle games are now rumored to be on the way, otherwise I would have to complain some more about the selection of classic games on the eShop for 3DS.
Although I am still mad that everything for WiiVC is not available for 3DSVC as well (in terms of classic games). I was actually shocked and disappointed when I bought my 3DS and found that NOTHING from the WiiVC was available for 3DSVC at all, seriously, I was shocked.
3DSVC needs and deserves a healthy list of NES, SNES, and GBA games available for download.



iPlayNintendo said:

I'm assuming the game includes the aquarium sandbox-type mode I remember the original having? That was fun too!



Magikarp3 said:

I'm having a lot of fun with this now! The interface took a while to get used to, but the pacing's excellent for a pick-up-and-play rpg



JohnG said:

I think it's £4.99. Was looking at it the other day and almost purchased it. I think I will now after reading these comments



jgibson75 said:

I loved this game back in the day. May have to download it for the nostalgia ride!



Captain_Balko said:

@ouroborous They can't just upload every game from the Wii VC to the 3DS VC - Every game requires work to function on the 3DS. Controls need to be formatted, the Save State feature added, and I'm sure all sorts of technical stuff has to be done in order for the game to work on a 3DS. It really isn't that easy. And, realistically, the 3DS VC was mostly meant to be used for GB and GBC games. They gave ambassadors 10 great GBA games and 10 NES games, so I was personally very happy. GBA games becoming avaliable to all seems unlikely since the 10 they gave the ambassadors are exclusive to ambassadors. Also, I'm not sure if Nintendo is planning to launch SNES games on the 3DS, but that seems much more probable than GBA games. And concerning NES games, I have to say that I personally believe that most of the decent NES titles are already avaliable. I own all of my favourites (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Punch Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, among others), and the only games I'd really like are the original 3 Dragon Warrior games, although the GBC versions are preferable.



Slapshot said:

Great review Marcel!

I've never gotten the chance to give this a go, but that will change very soon.



Bucho said:

Got this last week, had a horrible time learning how to reel the fish in, after i taught myself how it became a nice game with pretty visuals and solid gameplay, really like it now.



MC808 said:

It's been said repeatedly that this isn't a long game, or that it's short, etc...but nobody has said what the approximate length is....



Lobster said:

I loved this game so much as a kid, but it definitely stumped me. It stumped the Nintendo Hotline lady when I called in about it too - she'd never heard of it!

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