River City Girls 2 Returns With a Beat-Em-Up Beatdown

Time to clean up the streets again

River City Girls 2 Returns With a Beat-Em-Up Beatdown
Source: Wayforward.

Wayforward has been doing modern retro games for what seems like forever, and their first entry into River City with River City Girls brought the beat-em-up RPG to modern audiences with an amazing soundtrack. Now with its sequel, the soundtrack is back, and the game is bigger than before...but the problems have also come along for the ride.

Take Me Down to River City

Our story literally starts at the end of the first game, with high schoolers Misoko and Kyoto finding their boyfriends, beating up every criminal in the city, and foiling the Yakuza gang in charge. With the gang's boss out of prison and seeking revenge, it's up to the girls, their boyfriends, and new characters to take all the bad guys down.

The basic gameplay remains the same -- you'll explore the city section by section beating up thugs, taking their money, and using it to buy all manner of food and items. Besides leveling up, eating any particular food will reward you with free stat points the first time you try it, and there is a dojo where you can buy new moves for whichever character you're using.

The game's greatly expanded roster provides more variety to the easy-to-learn combat. Each character has light, heavy, and special moves which cost a chunk of the meter to use. Leveling up or buying new moves will give you more flexibility in combat. My favorite is using the new character Marian, once the damsel in distress from Double Dragon, now a buff brawler who has the best opportunity to use grapple combos. Combat now features the ability to parry your enemy's attack if you block just as they strike. In both games, enemies tend to wake up with an immediate attack, so with this parry you are able to punish that and get right back to combos.

The game itself is still linear as you move through the various sections of the city to complete the main quest, fighting many bosses and enemies along the way. Side quests provide you with opportunities to earn new equipment and hire NPCs to be your backup.

The soundtrack once again pops with a variety of songs and boss themes, along with several favorites from the original making their return.

River City Girls 2 does what a sequel should do by expanding on what worked from the original, but it doesn't quite fix the problems with the first game.

A Boring Tour

The beat-em-up gameplay is pretty solid, but the two main issues from the first one return. On the RPG side, things are still very basic, there is no decision-making to be done -- it's just getting more stats with the occasional unlocking of new moves.

The expanded roster is great, but the world hasn't seen much improvement. Source: Nintendo Life.

What you will be using those moves for is pretty basic. The quests that occur in each area just require you to move from point to point, fight an enemy or pick up an item, and then run to the next point. One quest literally has you running back and forth from one end to the other on multiple trips with nothing to do in between. There are some minigames to break things up, but not enough to really spice things up. Despite the great aesthetics and variety of enemies and music, there is no reason to go off the beaten path in the game.

The only things that do mix things up are the boss fights. With the inclusion of the parry, it is far easier to avoid normal attacks, but the bosses tend to introduce a lot of environmental hazards and additional enemies to cause trouble. As long as you bring in enough healing items you can effectively tank these situations.

The game also makes it a bit annoying to try out different characters. Each character will start at a base level -- the starting four will begin at level 1, and the unlocked ones will start at higher levels respective to their position in the game. If you want to try another character out, you will be sent back to their base level and will have to grind money and experience to boost them up.

Half a Brawl:

With River City Girls 2, Wayforward has nailed the beat-em-up aspect, but in all the years of playing River City-styled games, there hasn't really been an evolution or iteration with the RPG side. If you're a fan of the previous games, you will find more to enjoy here, and the roster additions are great. I hope that we see more depth in pumping our stats up as much as we are pumping our fists in the game. If you have some friends and are looking for a great beat-em-up, River City Girls 2 is a solid, but familiar, take on the genre.

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