River City Girls Review – Switch

The girls are back in town

It’s the 30th anniversary of River City Ransom, a classic in its own right that you can actually play on switch through NES online. What better way to celebrate than a sequel to a little known spin off featuring Kunio-kun’s and his best friend Riki’s girlfriends brawling instead. O.M.G Kunio and Riki have been kidnapped!! These aren’t just trophy girls they can kick just as much butt as their BFs, Misako and Kyoko take to the streets to beat the world’s arse till they find Kunio and Riki.

There’s fantastic nods to past Kunio-kun games.

As for once you play as the girlfriends, let’s talk about them. Misako is your slightly dark brooding sarcastic type with one no respect for school dress code as she parades about flaunting her behind in hot pants. Kyoko is your stereotypical dumb blonde, with gingery brown hair, is terrified of anything the least bit scary, loves shopping and is obsessed with her “Riki-poo”. The heroines provide a lot of comedy moments and had me laughing on quite a few occasions. There’s also some great characters you meet along the way each with their own style and charm. 

There’s no place like River City

River City Girls is a SNES styled beat ’em up of the traditional ilk. The action is a decent pace similar to what you would expect of a SNES game but with a whole lot more moves giving you a myriad of ways to kick keester. You have your typical light attack combo, heavy, specials running and jumping attacks. You can grab enemies when they’re stunned and there’s some fantastic weapons such as giant tuna and park benches. There’s even blocking and parrying although they are more pre-emptive than reactive due to the pace and delay of attacks. As an added bonus you can recruit enemies to use as assist attacks if they are last left on screen. Each character has completely unique attacks making it worthwhile to play through the game multiple times, plus there’s a new game+ with harder enemies and you unlock Kunio and Riki for completing the game just to add even more variation. The only downside is playing through as Kyoko, I switched to Misako and she was horrendously under leveled. Though the game had leveled her a teeny bit. While River City Girls does feature drop in multiplayer it would be difficult for the second player unless most of the game is played together. This makes it an even bigger shame that online multiplayer is missing in action as that would allow each player to use their own save and be a decent level.

Using enemies as a weapon is so much fun.

When you’re kicking ass and taking names (because you do get to see the names of those you vanquish) the combat is super sweet as you bounce on heads, stomp people on the floor and drill kick through a small horde, with the odd parry just to make you feel even more badass.

Best weapon ever.

River City Girls has some RPG elements as you level up, increase various stats and unlock some moves, others you buy in the dojo but dojo moves you don’t know whether they’ll be grab moves, aerial moves or specials till after you spend all your hard earned lunch money plus the move list barely helps, one move I unlocked was aerial press X and A but I couldn’t for the life of me pull it off even once. It also doesn’t tell you which moves are from behind such as frankensteiner, typically a front facing move, in River City Girls you have to grab from behind to pull it off. 

Each shop has a unique attendant.

You can buy equipable items such as padded bras and chokers that have various effects such as doing 5% more damage to male enemies but the best way to get strong is to eat everything once inside the shops as the first time you eat an item in a ship you get a stat boost. Because I spent all my money in the dojo and on expensive items to see what they did, I didn’t eat much shop food until just before the final boss. This meant the entire game was extremely hard with a group enemies easily able to do 2/3rds damage to my health but then the final boss was ridiculously easy as I also went loaded with healing items. This is actually good because into the game you can almost make it as hard as you want depending on how you spend your money.

Sorry boys the clothes don’t actually change.

Each boss is utterly unique and needs a totally different strategy so your rectum will be no more until you learn their attacks and work out the perfect strategy as the game won’t be easier until you eat all the shop food. If you hang out in a room too long loads of enemies come out and you get 0xp for them so there’s no hanging around in River City Girls.

Finishing a boss in style.

Call me a sucker for anything with SNESlike graphics but River City Girls looks mighty damn fine. Gone are the super deformed Kunio-kun bodies, that’s because River City Girls is based on a Japan only SNES game and the SNES was capable of better graphics. While there’s only 13 types of standard enemies they are each very unique right down to their walking animation such as the cheerleaders skipping. There are tons of varied backgrounds across the six sprawling areas each with people standing or sitting around going about their daily business while high school girls wreak havoc and stomp security guard and luchador wrestler heiney. My favourite is where you walk into an after school sex ed class and there’s a comical old school movie about puberty playing in the background. There’s also a lot of nice details such as the characters hanging over their portraits at the top of the screen with talking midaction and having different phones, Misako’s is black with a broken screen while Kyoko has a cute teddy bear phone.

Teddy bear phone!!!

The soundtrack is very good with fitting chiptune music and an awesome punk rock main theme tune but what I really love is when an actual song kicks in some rooms. For  beat ’em up there’s a surprising amount of voice acted scenes with portraits of the characters and a few voice acted comic strips too.

Normally the comic give a bit of history between characters.

River City Girls is a bottom romping, rear end bashing good time that took about 8 hours in my first playthrough a lot of that time was spent retrying bosses as I was vastly underpowered. It’s well worth playing through twice as the game is hella fun and all four characters have different moves, I sure know I’ll be hopping back into new game+. While a little on the pricey side especially with the lack of online multiplayer, no other beat ’em comes close in terms of style. At the end of the day you’d be insane as a tea pot to discuss the best beat ’em up ever without throwing River City Girls into the mix.

I’m sure a lot of people can relate.

A huge thank you to Wayforward for providing the download code. River City Girls is available digitally on the eShop today for £26.99/€29.99/$29.99.

The boss intros look great.

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