Being a huge fan of side-scroller beat-em-up titles, I often find myself booting up the original Streets of Rage on my Nintendo 3DS or even jumping into the 4-player survival mode in Streets of Rage 4 with my friends quite often. And the first River City Girls was an excellent new entry into this genre, essentially featuring the girlfriends of the original two heroes in the past River City entries, Kyoko and Misako as the central protagonists. Now a couple of years later, we have received a sequel, River City Girls 2 and we have prepared a review to discuss it in all its glory.
The sequel adds quite a few notable changes to the existing foundations of the first game, making gameplay and overall progression feel better than they previously had. The best way to differentiate both the predecessor and sequel is that the latter has a lot more variety going on in it. So without further delay, let’s discuss each of the elements in our review, starting with the main premise.
Story And Setting
Picking off right where we left off from the first entry, the girls are reunited with their boyfriends, Kunio and Riki, and life is going well for both ladies until the Yakuza gang members they once defeated throughout the streets of River City make a sudden return with payback on their minds. They end up infiltrating the School grounds and other hangout spots, riling up our two main gals for round two.
However, this time around, not only can we play as both Kunio and Riki, but the game also introduces you to two brand-new characters; the funky yet calm Provie, as well as the muscular and tomboyish Marian. These two characters bring their own charm to the narrative as you can unlock them through the main story progression and use them in gameplay with their own set of unique combos and abilities.
There are hardly any cutscenes here as the main focus is on the back-and-forth dialogue between characters, but it is safe to say that their amusing and comical banter can put a smile on your face. Whether it’s Kyoko suddenly dropping her bubbly nature out of the blue, or Misako giving off a cold shoulder, there isn’t a single moment where the narrative feels dry or unimportant.
Most importantly though, for a side-scroller beat-em-up title, it is densely packed with quality writing, which is always a pleasure to see as each NPC that you will meet in the game is just as charming as the main characters.
The developers at Wayforward have done a remarkable job at doubling down on the gameplay as River City Girls 2 features an array of changes to the side-scroller beat-em-up combat, making the game feel much more skill-oriented than ever. The progression has been moderately tweaked allowing you to not only purchase upgrades for characters but also equip them with helpful consumable items and bonuses.
You may still feel the flimsy nature of the gameplay at the start, but given time, you will soon be upgrading characters with brand-new moves and abilities to enhance their capabilities. Furthermore, the game even adds mini-games to the fray to spice things up such as Kyoko punching enemies to the Rhythm of a club.
The levels are also a highlight here as each of the locations of River City has been designed with a lot of verticality in mind. You can traverse through rooftops and jump across various sections, making them feel more in line with the traditional level design of classic beat-em-up titles in the genre such as the beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games.
As each of the six main characters, you are able to visit NPCs and interact with them and visit shops to upgrade your character as you slowly level them up. Each of these fighters has drastically different play styles this time around, making our use of the term ‘Variety’ a bit more adequate.
While both Kyoko and Misako have been overhauled, the latter is unique from her best friend as she is focused on precise air-combo fundamentals. Meanwhile, Kyoko on the other hand is a lot more grounded in her approach as she can land a flurry of kicks and attacks, making her an excellent crowd-control character in the game.
I especially enjoyed playing as Marian as she is an absolute beast who can grapple enemies and german suplex them across the level or brutalize them with hard-hitting strikes. It honestly adds a ton of contrast to how the first game functioned in terms of mechanics as NPCs joining you as sidekicks for fights, and the levels now allowing you to breathe more openly feels like the best Quality-of-Life improvements here.
However, towards the 2nd half of the game, it is fairly understandable if you get overwhelmed by the minor difficulty spike as different enemies can easily gang up on you, making getting through the finish line a slogfest rather than a race to victory. But thankfully, if you have a friend at your side, the game also supports local and online co-op, making it an absolute joy to play every second of the way.
Visuals And Performance
The modernized Pixelated animation is a key element of the game as it gracefully maintains the style of the classic titles in its genre, one that can attract fans easily since it has its own spin on the art direction.
Each of the city areas is beautifully designed, making them feel distinctive from the others. Whether it’s fighting through a vividly designed fish market or plowing through Yakuza members in a factory, there is a lot to see and appreciate here. The vibrancy of the game never skips a beat in order to make you feel immersed in the action and the anime-like presentation of the story.
In terms of performance, there have been various complaints around the Framerate being capped on launch, but thankfully the developers were aware of the issue and have a fix coming out soon. Aside from that, the game performs astoundingly well. It isn’t obviously demanding by any means so by all means even if you have an average system on hand, feel free to give River City Girls 2 a shot.
River City Girls 2 not only is a sequel done right, and the gameplay changes make it feel like a traditional beat-em-up title that is more addictive than ever to play. If you’re someone who enjoyed playing the first title or is looking forward to experiencing a short yet sweet action title, then look no further here.
The fluid combat, skill-based characters, and entertaining storytelling are a complete package. It not only manages to showcase that the genre of side-scroller beat-em-ups is alive and well, but with fantastic heroines like Misako and Kyoko, it goes to show that rebellious girls like them indeed ‘Get It Done’.
This has been our River City Girls 2 Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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River City Girls 2 Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
River City Girls 2 not only is a sequel done right, and the gameplay changes make it feel like a traditional beat-em-up title that is more addictive than ever to play.
- Joyful Storytelling
- Eccentric Roster Of Characters
- Deep And Fun Combat
- Overhauled Gameplay Mechanics
- Megan Mcduffee’s Banger Soundtrack
- Tedious Second Half
- Minor Bugs And Glitches