River City Girls

Story

River City Girls is a spin-off game based on the Kunio-Kun series; the game stars two girls Misako and Kyoko. They fight their way from high school to the streets of River City to save their kidnapped boyfriends. You will have to fight your way through enemies, obstacles, and bosses to find and save them.

Besides River City Ransom and Super Dodgeball, I don’t know much about this game series. I didn’t even know that a series of games came out until I played this game. Called Kunio-Kun in Japan, River City Girls had a decent build-up to its release. I played this through Game Pass on Xbox. I did like the original game that this based on River City Ransom. 

Full Thoughts and Reactions after playing River City Girls

It’s a beat ’em up style game, and a fun one. You can choose to play as Misako or Kyoko, the protagonists of the game. After Kyoko gets an anonymous text message about Kunio and Riki, the River City series’s heroes getting captured, and the girl’s boyfriends, you break out of detention and pursue any lead as you go through River City. You look for clues and take side quests so you can find your boyfriends and rescue them. Kyoko and Misako are the two characters that you mainly deal with throughout the game. Kyoko is the cheerful, bubbly one, and Misako is the snarky impulse and always ready for a fight girl. They play off each other well in the story, with one being an excellent foil for the other. They help keep the story amusing with their interactions and dialogue throughout the game.

At the beginning of the game, you get some amusing tips and tutorials from an eight-bit Kunio

The fighting in the game is excellent and satisfying. Attacking enemies and combat is responsive and fair. You have a great deal of freedom while fighting and can move around anywhere on the screen and in the game’s current section. At times, you get the screen locked into a particular area during a fight. It prevents you from running away and forcing you to defeat all of the enemies before you can move on. This mechanic is a fun way to extend out an already short game and add challenges for a speedrun gamer. You can gain more moves and stats as you level up. You can also purchase attack techniques and stat upgrades in shops. The challenge is balanced out well. I didn’t feel at any point that I got a game over that it was through a cheap death. When you die, you do lose any money that you accumulated. Not anywhere near the half of money in River City Ransom. It’s enough to be frustrated. Escpailly when you are grinding to either buy food or a power-up, you may need to move on in the game. But even that wasn’t enough to get me to stop playing.

I like the 16-bit graphics and 2d hand drawn art style of the game. Both genres mesh together well.

Each girl has a set of moves that are different but feel similar to each other. The actions match their character traits and provide differences for each other instead of feeling like each other’s clone character, unlike most of the enemies that you will encounter and mostly fight throughout the game. They are by entering a specific combination of buttons. The type of attack is the same kind of attack of each girl when you pull them off, like Kyoko’s Dab or Masiko’s Haymaker attacks. These attacks are satisfying to pull off, and you will want to try and pull off all the available moves the game offers.

Along the way, you get to purchase various power-ups, and run into some cameos from other games, like Marian here from Double Dragon Neon.

This game does have a two-player mode, but strangely no online play option. I don’t see the purpose of leaving a feature like this out. Unless the intent was to simulate guanine, two people sit on the couch and play the game together in the same room. Like it was before the internet era of gaming. You also have the option of turning on a friendly fire option or not. There is a normal and hard mode, but I didn’t find the hard setting challenging. I beat this game on my first playthrough on hard mode.

The soundtrack is impressive. The music helps to bring this world alive. Each track can set the mood that it needs to add to each section of the game. I will also have the intro title “We’re the River City Girls” intro stuck in my head for a while, and it may be ear wormed for quite some time. It is incredibly catchy, pop-sounding, and gets you pumped to play and play again, even if you play the game multiple times. I like that there is a mix of lyrical songs and music. It enhances the mood of the section that you traverse in. There are a few tracks that have some remix songs from the River City games. The game is worth it for the soundtrack alone.

Another Problem is that is sometimes isn’t clear on what you have to do before you can move on. I spent a few hours on this section before I realized you need to talk to Hasebe& Mami to progress.

The soundtrack is impressive. The music helps to bring this world alive. Each track can set the mood that it needs to add to each section of the game. I will also have the intro title “We’re the River City Girls” intro stuck in my head for a while, and it may be ear wormed for quite some time. It is incredibly catchy, pop-sounding, and gets you pumped to play and play again, even if you play the game multiple times. I like that there is a mix of lyrical songs and music. It enhances the mood of the section that you traverse in. There are a few tracks that have some remix songs from the River City games. The game is worth it for the soundtrack alone.

The story is good and feels self-aware of the tale that it’s trying to tell—characters from the Kunio-Kun series as scattered along with the world. You’ll run into many of them during the game if you’ve played games in the series before. Many, I have no idea who they are. I’m not sure if this is a canon to the Kunio-Kun Series or not. A lot of sites are claiming that it’s not, so I’ll go with that. Not did I care because it was more cameo than story developing. Most of the Story is told well through the in-game story, comic book styled cutscenes, and anime-style animation. Probably halfway or so through the story, I was able to guess what was going to happen, and I’m sure others will if they play through it. By the end, I felt unsatisfied with the conclusion, but not enough to deter me from the game or to replay the game.

I feel the game designers also snuck in level homages to the original game, besides characters from previous games. Top Pic is the Construction Yard From River City Girls and the bottom is the level I believed it to be inspired from River City Ransom.

While there are enough replay and bonus content offered, it would have been fun to see a demastered version of the game. Something making River City Girls look like an eight-bit NES version of the game in the style of River City Ransom or Dodgeball, games I’ve grown up with and known over the years. Still, there are plenty of secrets to discover along the streets of River City. I am hoping that this series will have a sequel or follow up.

Summarized Thoughts and Review after playing River City Girls

Having vague knowledge of the River City Series of games or Kunio-Kun shouldn’t stop anyone from playing this game. River City Girls is a great and fun beat ’em up game that anyone should enjoy playing and replaying again. The game’s 2D style instantly would give any familiarity to anyone who played any River city game. River City Girls boosts a fantastic soundtrack and voiceover work. While the story is both great and falters at the same time, it fits the world’s context.  

By Tomoneofakind

I'm from and living in North East Pennsylvania (NEPA). I break away from the 7-5 full-time job life I live, by going to movies, playing video games, trying new activities.

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