River City Girls is an action brawler developed by Arc System Works, famous for developing fighting games like Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and Dragon Ball Fighters Z. Seeing a non-fighting game made by them is a little odd. However, going into their history, they have made quite a few games. Most notable is that their first game was Final Lap and after that, they made Double Dragon and a bunch of more titles after that. It should be interesting to note that River City Girls plays like Double Dragon in a way, although the Streets of Rage comparison also applies here as well.
Pros and Cons
- A charming story with characters that are filled with life
- Fun gameplay where you can beat enemies up
- Fantastic soundtrack
- Beautiful 16-bit graphics that fit each area of the game
- Not all enemies that you can recruit have useful abilities
- Most of the accessories you get are not helpful
- Some of the boss fights have annoying phases
- The final boss is an underwhelming cakewalk
Misako is in detention at River City High and is accompanied by her best friend Kyouko who doesn't actually attend this school but seems to always be found around Misako. Kyouko receives a text from someone that her and Misako’s boyfriends Kunio and Riki have been kidnapped. The two decide to spring into action and rescue both and will stop at nothing to do so. Luckily for them, in River City, street fighting and brawling are 100% legal, which would have been the perfect place for Tyler Durden to host his very own Fight Club.
Misako asks Kyouko where she got the message from, but Kyouko says the number she received it from is a blocked number. Which is kind of weird, since typically you can’t message blocked numbers or receive messages from them. However, if random people can walk into other schools’ detention rooms and street fighting/brawling is legal, I suppose anything goes.
The story for River City Girls is full of charm and all of the characters you come across have their very own personalities. The bosses also have some charm to them that makes them interesting in their own right and fun to fight as a whole. There are also some story bits that play out in this manga-like style which I found rather cool.
Another thing that I would like to point out is that all the bosses had their very own unique intro before fighting them. I liked these very much as they gave you an idea of what their character would be.
River City Girls will have enemies of all sorts around every corner, and you will have to deal with them with your fists. There are weapons that you find which will help you take enemies down, such as bats, chains, crates, and more. There are also shops that will give you charms and accessories that have passive abilities to increase the punishment like doing more damage or getting an extra second of invincibility when knocked down.
You can also recruit enemies to help you fight who have their own uses and you can experiment with them in your own ways. They do have a certain amount of hits they can take, if they run out of hearts, they will be unable to help you fight. If you get knocked down, the ally you recruited will also leave, with you losing some money as well.
The gameplay is honestly really fun, and I never got bored of it despite it not bringing anything new to the table. I also liked the small references that were made; they added to the charm of the game's world. The bosses were also very fun to fight and provided a challenge when fighting them.
With that said, River City Girls does have its fair share of issues that are worth noting. The allies that you can recruit to help you fight are not very useful, as they only help you when pressing a button like a partner would in a fighting game. Personally, the cyborg seemed to be the only recruit that was actually useful.
The accessories are also another thing that was honestly just pointless and when I mean pointless, I mean it. They could easily be removed from the game without having any noticeable impact to gameplay. For example, there is one accessory called the Smart Watch, which will increase the damage you deal with students by five percent. Now, this is fine, however, there are 11 enemy types in the game and there are only like four student-based enemies. The further you get in the game, the less likely you are to fight them, making it more useless. There is another one called the Makeup Kit, which will increase the amount of damage you do to female enemies by five percent. It’s also not very useful as there are only five female-type enemies in the game, and two of them don’t appear till way later in the game. One of them is a bit hard to spawn, while the other does not appear until the final area of the game.
I only found one useful accessory, the Love Letter, which increases the amount of damage to male enemies by five percent. This is actually rather useful as there are seven male enemy types on the game, and you mostly fight male enemies too.
While most of the boss fights are fun and challenging, some of them have annoying phases that sucked the enjoyment right out of their battle. Hibari and Noize suffer from this, Hibari will fly through the air shooting projectile-based attacks which frequently put you in sticky situations if you are not careful. Noize is the worst offender of being annoying, as she has these Guitar Hero sections, which is a nice nod and brings back my memories of jamming to Social Destoration on my 360, however, these notes can be a bit hard to avoid if you are not careful.
It is worth noting that the final boss is a complete cakewalk, I ended up beating it on my first try. It’s so odd that all of the bosses put up a good fight, with a few that I had trouble with, but the final one was honesty just plain easy.
Graphics, Soundtrack, and Performance
The 16-bit art style that the game has is amazing and is full of color, with each area feeling alive and full of wonder. The soundtrack is also fantastic, I did not find a song that I didn't enjoy, the music just carried me through this beat ‘em up while sounding amazing.
I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, with 16 GB of RAM. I did not experience any issues with everything running smoothly while playing.
River City Girls is honestly a really fun beat 'em up that is definitely worth playing. If you have a friend with you, you can play via remote play and it does make the game a bit easier with you being able to revive the other player.
Want to see some gameplay on the game? Then check out my video on it