Friday, November 29, 2019

River City Girls (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Review

I hope those who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday enjoyed their bounty. Now, allow SuperPhillip Central to provide you a weekend bounty of content starting with this review, its first after SPC's big, historic 900th review. We turn to a game from Arc System Works and Wayforward that released earlier this fall, River City Girls. Let's get our fists and feet ready to fly with the SPC review!

High school girls in a low stakes beat-em-up adventure

High school misfits Kyoko and Misako are ditching class, but this time for good reason--they're on the hunt for their supposedly missing boyfriends in River City Girls by Arc System Works and Wayforward. With beautiful 2D sprite-work, engaging beat-em-up combat, and a somewhat funny script, River City Girls makes for a goofy spin-off to the River City Ransom series, much like Double Dragon Neon was to the Double Dragon series.

River City Girls tells its tale through various means, whether it's manga-inspired, hand-drawn cut-scenes, anime-inspired cutscenes, or simply through character portraits. Every piece of major dialogue is spoken, though some voice acting is better than others, and that "some is better than others" goes for the game's humor as well. More times than I'd like to admit, I found myself letting out a loud sigh or rolling my eyes at certain jokes, and part of that is just how obnoxious pretty much every character in the game is (especially the voices of the main heroines at times).

Misako is the snarky one while Kyoko is a tad ditsy.
Following the River City Ransom series' structure, Kyoko and Misako find themselves moving around a nonlinear set of scrolling screens, taking out enemies of all types and sizes, completing quests for characters, and unlocking new sections of the city to explore. 

Around town, a multitude of shops feature food and items that not only heal our heroines when consumed, but when they're used for the first time, they give a permanent stat increase. Both characters can also equip various accessories that can help out in a pinch, such as equipment that takes out specific types of enemies more efficiently, equipment that increases the likelihood of enemies dropping more money upon their defeat, among many others. Other shops include dojos that teach Kyoko and Misako new moves to use in battle, some of which require regenerating SP to use, and many of which require certain character level milestones to use at all.

Looks like Kyoko is going to have to save up her allowance if she wants to buy more than one game,
and by "save up her allowance", I mean beat the crap out of more enemies and take their money.
Combat is enjoyable in River City Girls, offering a myriad of means to dispatch foes, whether with bare fists and kicks in both light or strong forms, special moves learned in the dojo and from characters leveling up, or by picking up various weapons littered about the game--from yo-yos to baseball bats, benches to trash cans, and guitars to baseballs. Enemies don't simply stand there and take a beating--they of course dish back damage as well. When a foe is getting set to attack, it's a wise idea to get out of harm's way, or better yet, block. 

Well, those enemies that just got launched into the air certainly aren't grounded yet!
With proper timing right when an enemy makes contact with the player, a block can stun that enemy, opening them up to a tried and true offensive assault. Enemies can also be grabbed, thrown into other enemies (weapons can also be tossed at enemies), and kicked and stomped while they're lying on the ground helpless. In certain scenarios, enemies can be recruited with the press of a button once they plead for their lives.

This enemy might be begging for mercy, but Misako is going to act like
a high school football coach to a poorly performing player and bench him instead.
Despite battles being fun, River City Girls falls into the trap that many games of its genre do--it can become quite repetitive. This in part due to the countless times that the game requires you to backtrack through areas to complete quests, but another part is that as the game rolls on, enemies take quite a beating before they're finally defeated. This adds to some tediousness with the combat. '

However, boss battles do break up the small amount of monotony that players can possibly, occasionally face with River City Girls, and these battles feature bosses with set patterns, life bars that make them change up their patterns as they lose portions of their health, and unfortunately, some unwanted jumps in difficulty. That said, these bosses are generally enjoyable, such as one that is a master of the dark arts, who is satisfying to beat down while avoiding his magic There's also another that performs a Guitar Hero-like attack on the stage, which features five different tracks that scroll harmful notes down them that our heroines much jump to evade. 

Bosses offer a reprieve to the occasionally repetitive flow of River City Girls.
River City Girls isn't too long of a game, maybe clocking in at around five hours. That said, after the initial run through the game is complete, there's various options to choose from there, such as a New Game+ option where your items, character moves and levels, and such carry over to this second run of the game. Additionally, there are two unlockable characters to play as, a Hard mode to go through, and a mode that any beat-em-up worth its cost desperately needs, co-op for two local players, where friendly fire can be turned on or off. Further, there are side quests to complete in the game, 25 hidden statues sprinkled throughout River City to destroy and 25 cats to collect, and 100% completion to reach, so there is plenty of extra content that Arc System Works and Wayforward collectively mustered up into this $30 package.

And I would say that between the gorgeous sprites and detailed backgrounds, the mostly amusing combat, the fun enough script, and plentiful bonus content that River City Girls is indeed worth its $30 price tag. While I won't find myself continuing to return to this type of beat-em-up as much as say, a more linear, focused type like Double Dragon or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, I did like my time with River City Girls regardless. The humor's hit and miss, the game can grow a bit repetitive, but as a whole, the River City Girls kick butt.

[SPC Says: C+]

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