Developers Wayforward has teamed up with Arc System Works to bring us another title in the River City Ransom franchise of games. Enter River City Girls. The game which is a continuation of River City Ransom focuses on Kyoko and Misako as they try to rescue their boyfriends Kunio and Riki from kidnappers.
The game is a throwback to an era of video gaming that featured side scrolling beat-em-ups that were extremely fun to play and had a lot of longevity to boot. In River City Girls players will take on the role of either Kyoko or Misako and fight through waves of enemies while performing some light role playing game mechanics. Players will obtain quests or objectives and will have to fight through waves of enemies to collect key items which are required to progress further in the game.
Playing as either Kyoko or Misako, players will have two different fighting styles to choose from. Kyoko’s is filled with flash and style while Misako’s is more brutal and street-fight-esque. Players will have a light attack and a heavy attack and can string together combos that look beautiful in action. Additionally, players will also be able to grab enemies and throw them or even use them as a weapon themselves. Another layer of complexity has been added to the game by allowing players to recruit the last enemy standing in a particular section by weakening them and then grabbing them when they are begging for mercy. This also unlocks the enemy in the player’s pause menu list of enemies. This serves as a kind of Pokedex, but for the enemies in River City Girls, and it compels you to “capture” more enemies throughout the game. Using these enemies for assistance can also be life saving in battles since sometimes they can help you get out of tough situations based on their unique attacks. You can only hold onto one enemy at a time though so it’s best to defeat the enemy units you don’t want to “capture” first.
Arc System Works and Wayforward have built such an enjoyable game that beating up enemies never seems to get old or repetitive throughout the game. This is due to the fact that enemy types are varied throughout and are always bringing something new to the table in each area. Players will also be able to unlock new fighting moves as they level up and unlock more at the training dojo. Want to “Dab on your haters” ? Kyoko can do that in River City Girls with a specific attack.
New accessories provide bonuses such as 5% more damage to male enemies or faster projectile speeds and choosing the right accessory for a situation can make quite a big difference. There’s lots of accessories to purchase and unlock throughout the game and there are plenty of stores to buy healing items from too. River City Girls also features a level up system where Kyoko or Misako will gain more exp as they beat enemies and complete missions. Eventually when they level up, they get a stats boost.
Players will traverse a game world that features a lot of different areas in River City. Starting at River City Highschool, players will venture out across town to find Kunio and Riki’s kidnappers and each area is filled with style and substance. The boss battles require specific strategies and are generally enjoyable if you have enough patience to figure out their attack patterns. The graphics in River City Girls features a mix of anime and pixel-art graphics and oozes an aesthetic style that’s so eye-catching and visually pleasing. There’s also full blown anime and manga cutscenes and the voice acting is performed by seasoned veterans with Kira Buckland and Kayli Mills voicing Kyoko and Misako respectively.
One of the best features of the game however isn’t even related to its beat-em-up gameplay. It’s the soundtrack. Megan McDuffee, Chipzel, NateWantsToBattle, Dale North and Christina Vee have created a masterpiece OST that is so good it deserves a spot in any gamer’s playlist. There were times where I’d often just want to stick around in a particular area because of the song that plays in the background and that right there is the mark of a good soundtrack.
River City Girls does have some flaws though. There are some times where the game’s difficulty spikes and enemy attacks can be quite devastating. This is especially compounded by the fact that the block button doesn’t really do much against most attacks. The light attack button also doubles as the pick up and interact button and there are times when you’ll end up moving to the next area or entering a building accidentally while punching an enemy if the screen hasn’t been locked.
Overall, River City Girls is a great beat-em-up game with an exceptionally good OST and charming eye-catching pixel-art graphics. The fighting is enjoyable and even though there’s only so much both girls can do, there’s more than enough combos to pull off and enough variation in the enemies to beat to give the game enough substance throughout. Highly recommended from us and the fact that the entire game can be played co-op sweetens the deal even further.
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Genre: Beat ’em up
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC