MFGreth's ongoing pet project. MFGreth can also only cover games he's played, unfortunately.
Okay, so I know exactly what you're thinking. FISHAN GAEMS, how fucking fun can that be, right? Perhaps. I'll admit not everyone likes fishing, and it's not a consistently high-action sport by any stretch of the imagination, so a series of games centered around the premise that you, well, fish, may not be for those people. Even so, if you are a fishing buff, you can immediately tell this series does not even try to represent accuracy or realism. So why then? Why go for an obscure, mostly Japanese, series of games that has never sold particularly well in the Western hemisphere? Why go for something that seems so quirky in premise, but not in execution? Because, my friend, it's fun. So if you have even the most remote interest in fishing, even if it's just because, say, you liked the fishing mini-game in Ocarina of Time, or if you're always willing to try a new spin on the JRPG formula, then it may be in your best interest to give one of these games a shot. Besides, you can punch bears in the face with your fists.
Some Background Info
This series began life on the Nintendo Famicom with the release of Kawa no Nushi Tsuri (川のぬし釣り, The River's Master of Fishing) on August 10th, 1990. The series has, honestly, hardly evolved since then (save for a few spinoffs), but we'll consider this a good thing. The series was given life, intially, by legendarily underrated publishers Pack-In Video (responsible for cult-classic favorite Magical Pop'n, among other things) but has managed to meagerly continue it's existence thanks to developing efforts by Marvelous Interactive and publishing by Natsume (who will more often than not also play a large part of the development, hence the series' ever-growing similarities with the popular Harvest Moon franchise). Marvelous was actually once Victor Interactive Software, who was formed by the merging of Pack-In-Video and Victor Entertainment. Eventually Victor Interactive was acquired by Marvelous Entertainment, and that leaves us to where we are today! A bit confusing... I know.
The original release of the series had come at a strange time; the third generation of console gaming, led by the Famicom/NES, was on it's last legs of life, and the fourth generation was well underway with the NEC PC Engine (aka Turbografx-16), and the Sega MegaDrive (aka Genesis), and, most importantly, the powerful and highly anticipated Super Famicom (aka Super Nintendo) was less than four months away from becoming publicly available. Despite all this, Pack-In Video went ahead with the game's release. I don't know how well sales stood, but I'm going to guess pretty good because the series took off afterwards with zeal. The fourth generation alone saw the releases of Kawa no Nushi Tsuri: Shizenha for PC Engine, Umi no Nushi Tsuri and Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 2 for Super Famicom, as well as Legend of the River King/Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 3 and Umi no Nushi Tsuri 2 for Gameboy. The fifth generation saw releases for the Nintendo 64, Playstation, and Gameboy Color, the total count of which was six originals and one remake, for a total of seven releases. Since then, the series has lost some steam, with only seven releases between the sixth and seventh generations at the time of this writing.
Hopefully, there will be many more River King releases for years to come.
A Quick Bit of Info
If you hadn't guessed by this point, this series is about fishing. The actual mechanics of the fishing are quite simple, rather than fiddling around with any realistic elements that you might find in a more straightforward fishing title (which, by the way, if you're looking for one, this author suggests the SEGA branded ones on Dreamcast with the corresponding controller peripheral), you simply choose where to cast, do so, and wait for a bite. When you get one, you have two options: reel in, or don't reel in, and you do this by pushing or letting go of the specific button set to reeling on your controller. You're going to want to reel in when the fish is resting, and let go when they struggle. Simple enough, right?
It's Just Like Final Fantasy!
You might be wondering why that is, and I'll tell you. As stated before, River King is actually a (not so) steathily veiled JRPG series. Boggles the mind, doesn't it? To prove my point, consider this: you usually have different rods and lures, as well as bait. Each one has a certain statistic that affects the likelihood of a fish biting your hook (aka intitiating an encounter). Each one of these can affect the outcome of the encounter (much like the equipment of any regular JRPG), and can be swapped with better, new equipment that you purchase from various stores and are sometimes given through story related events. So, fishing encounters, random battles, it's all the same, except how you actually perform the action....
Except there's totally random battles too.
One of the strangest things about the series, in this author's opinion, is that you have to battle the local wildlife during your expedition, using your fists to punch everything from monkeys and bats to bears and seagulls. Some people consider this a weakness in the titles, considering these battles aren't exactly important to the progression of your fishing career, and they're merely a footnote in the game's overall gameplay heirarchy. Why then? Probably because the game would finish too quickly without them; to the credit of the original developers, Dragon Quest-ish games were a hot commodity then and it was probably a necessity to get this game published and sold in the first place, and they're probably right in thinking the games would be too short without the battles, but it's a dividing issue since it feels very out of place for some players. There's not really many benefits to reap from these battles, and to be honest, you can sometimes go an entire run of a game and be in less than five battles. Total. And sometimes, you'll be completely overwhelmed by how many of these damn animals you keep running into. Some players just find punching innocent forest animals funny though, and that's good enough for them.
Note that during these battles you have to 'select' an area on the body of the animal your attacking during each attack phase, which happens by a quickly changing crosshair. Where you hit defines the damage outcome, and the weakest point is usually different for each animal (though heads are usually a good place to whack the assholes, especially bears). It's not a deep turn based battle system, so don't expect to be formulating decently complex (or at least cheap) battle strategies to each and every opponent; it's simply not necessary.
Other than that, you have other typical staples of the genre, like an HP meter, menus for different things like equipment, and following a fairly linear storyline. We're not playing Chrono Trigger here, people, so don't get in a huff if it wasn't for the deep, old-school roleplaying experience you were looking for.
The games are listed in a chronologically correct order, according to release dates; games in green denote they have are going to be covered on this page.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri, for the Nintendo Famicom, released in 1990.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri: Shizenha, for the PC Engine, released in 1992.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 2, for Super Famicom, released in 1995.
- Umi no Nushi Tsuri, for Super Famicom, released in 1996.
- This is the start of the Umi spinoff series; the title could be translated, in relation to the main series, as Legend of the Sea King, and as you guessed, you fish in the Ocean, rather than Rivers/Lakes.
- Legend of the River King/Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 3, for Gameboy/Gameboy Color, released in 1997/1999.
- The 1999 re-release for Gameboy Color retitled it Legend of the River King GBC.
- Umi no Nushi Tsuri 2, for Gameboy Color, released in 1998.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri, for Playstation, released in 1998.
- Nushi Tsuri 64, for Nintendo 64, released in 1998.
- Legend of the River King 2/Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 4, for Gameboy Color, released in 1999.
- Umi no Nushi Tsuri: Takarajima he Mukatte, for Playstation, released in 1999.
- Translates to Legend of the Sea King: To Treasure Island (thanks for that one, Wikipedia!)
- Nushi Tsuri 64: Shiokaze Ninotte, for Nintendo 64, released in 2000.
- Nushi Tsuri Adventure: Kite no Bouken, for Gameboy Color, released in 2000.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 5, for Gameboy Advance, released in 2002.
- River King: A Wonderful Journey/Kawa no Nushi Tsuri: Wonderful Journey (aka Harvest Fishing), for Playstation 2, released in 2005.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 3 & 4, for Gameboy Advance, released in 2006.
- This is a re-release of the two main Gameboy Color titles, with improved graphics and sound.
- River King: Mystic Valley/Kawa no Nushi Tsuri: Komorebi no Tani, Seseragi no Uta (aka Harvest Fishing DS), for Nintendo DS, released in 2007.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri, for PSP, currently in development.
- Kawa no Nushi Tsuri, for Nintendo Wii, currently in development.
Kawa no Nushi Tsuri (NES)
This one is all Japanese, but shouldn't be too hard.
Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 2 (SNES)
This one's gonna be tough as shit to cover; the whole damn thing is in Japanese. I have no idea what they're saying, so this might be the last one I do... but I'm going to do it, because it's the one that impresses me the most.
Legend of the River King (GB/GBC)
So here we are, the first River King released stateside. It's kind of weird going back in time, playing this game again, especially to fully dissect it into a Walkthrough and Tips Guide. So let's just get started.