riostarwind's River City Girls (Nintendo Switch) review

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After unlocking some more moves this game becomes a very fun beat em up

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Over the years the one thing Wayforward seems to love to do more than anything else is create new games in the style of classic 8-bit/16-bit video games. Along with making a ton of games based on known properties. This is a mix of both of those things since this is a reimagined look at River City Ransom.

This game makes good use of Double Dragon characters too. Abobo is honestly one of the hardest bosses.
This game makes good use of Double Dragon characters too. Abobo is honestly one of the hardest bosses.

This game picks up as our heroines learn that their boyfriends have been kidnapped. They aren't the type to wait around for someone else to do the job they could do themselves so they set off to beat up just about everyone in River City.

What doesn't come through with the story recap is the very well done intro that is told via voiced Manga style cut scenes. These look really nice and the VO work is done very well although they only show up rarely for important backstory moments/intros. The style continues with standard talking head moments that have as very anime look to them that fits the look of the game. Which happens to be a very 16-bit style. Making everything look very colorful and vibrant. The music is also on point and it fits in very well with the overall presentation.

Some enemies can be recruited after you beat them up. They jump out and do one move that never seemed that effective.
Some enemies can be recruited after you beat them up. They jump out and do one move that never seemed that effective.

Meanwhile the core of what you'll be doing here is beating up every enemy that even tries to pop up on the screen. Misako and Kyoto are very good at using their fists and legs to knock out anyone in their way. Sadly at first the abilities they have may be a bit too limited. Sure it seems like they want the player to unlock stuff as they level up but at the start all you have is the ability to do a light and heavy attack. Being able to parry attacks, ground attacks or back attacks don't show up till they level up a bit. Along with special attacks being gated behind using the money you gain from enemies is a bit of a bummer. This does fit with what the River City Ransom games did before but because all that stuff makes the game more enjoyable it's a bummer you need to scrape by for a few levels before it becomes a more enjoyable time.

Once you do have a set of specials you can pull off some fun looking combos by juggling opponents off the wall. It doesn't go to an extreme length like Marvel Vs Capcom but once you do find the moves that combo into each other I very much enjoyed destroying my enemies in that way. Sadly while some of the bosses are set up in a unique fashion most of them just come down to hitting them a few times and then running away from them. Unless it just requires perfect timing that I never quite figured out once an enemy starts hitting you it isn't possible to break out of it. This can lead to some frustrating moments that feel like you just missed the timing slightly only to be severely punished for it. It felt like I could parry attacks that were hitting me sometimes but I never felt like I figured out the correct timing by the time the credits rolled.

Proof that video games do upgrade your stats when you buy them.
Proof that video games do upgrade your stats when you buy them.

While the gameplay is hit or miss sometimes the rest of the experience is very well done. Like the previous games you can go into shops to buy items that can upgrade your stats. Along with taking them with you so they can be used in a bad situation makes any tough fight easy. Some items can be equipped to confer a special effect like 5% more damage to male enemies or an extra second of invincibility when you stand up. A small amount of side quests can be tackled to earn a bit of extra cash. Yet they aren't really that interesting and they really feel like a bit of padding although the game seems long enough without them.

So what we have here is a very well realized world with some fun gameplay that takes a bit of time to get interesting. Additionally you might find some extra replay value via unlockable characters after you finish the game. Yet they then need to be leveled up as well. Thus we come to an impasse. I do think that anyone that loves brawlers will enjoy this one. As long as you are willing to spend an hour or two getting to a point where you have the tools to do some cool stuff. Still a game worth playing if beating up some fools for money sounds fun time to you.

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