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River City Girls Review

Official Score

Overall - 80%


River City Girls gives the beat-em-up genre a new lease on life with its solid combat, stellar spritework, and sprawling world. Those that can stomach some backtracking will find an adventure worthy of biffing a few baddies over.

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The streets of River City rage once again with the release of WayForward and Arc System Works’ River City Girls. Featuring a new perspective for its time-tested tussles, should you help these ladies on their journey?

River City Girls Review

Things aren’t going so hot for Kyoko and Misako. Not only are they spending their time in detention, their boyfriends Riki and Kunio have been kidnapped. Not ones to take things lying down, these two hit the city in the search for answers, fighting anybody that stands in their way. Throughout the way, the story is told through creative manga panels and plenty of banter with both friends and foes – a nice touch.

These two girls certainly pack the skills necessary for the job. Right from the get-go, these two pack both a quick attack and a heavy attack that can be used to juggle cheerleaders, security guards, whip wielders, lucha libre wrestlers, Terminator dopplegangers, and other ne’er-do-wells. A grab can be used to fling foes, and a block and parry mechanic allows players to turn any defensive situation into an offensive one.

Through all of this, combat is polished throughout. Attacks carry weight, and players can earn EXP and level up as the game progresses. Levels aren’t just a higher number; new moves are regularly doled out that help to add variety. An in-game Dojo can also be visited to learn some new skills. By the time the title is over, players will be able to perform some stylish maneuvers that has these two rolling, suplexing, and more. Despite this repertoire, River City Girls never gets overly complex – it’s just as deep as you want it to be.

To aid them on their journey, a number of recruits can be, well, recruited. By showing mercy in select scenarios, these reformed baddies can be called in as an assist at the press of a button. Though there’s a fair amount of variety, the amount of cooldown time required between uses and the limited functionality make this mechanic feel more like a novelty than a necessity.

True to the River City franchise, River City Girls features a number of different areas that can be explored. Posh uptowns, rough downtowns, malls, schools, beaches, and other locales flesh out the six different zones people can venture to. It’s easy to figure out where to go next, with a system of areas that are connected to one another and an easily accessible map with quests guiding players along. Some areas slow things down with locked doors and mandatory fights, but traversal is a speedy affair. Players can also pick up the pace with a bus system that gradually unlocks as players experience more of the game.

Of course, as with life, money makes the world go round in River City Girls. Dropped by enemies, players can spend their dough on items, accessories, and the Dojo. Items are self explanatory, but accessories can be used to turn the tide in battle with different perks. Though only two can be equipped at any given time, it adds to its RPG-style vibe that makes sure playthroughs stay fresh.

Unfortunately, not everything is golden in this beat-em-up. Though battles are entertaining, they are also plentiful to a fault. That’s not normally so bad, but there’s a fair amount of backtracking to be had for certain quests. In addition, some of the mandatory (if brief) platforming sections come across as awkward when utilizing the more traditional beat-em-up engine. We also experienced a crash that kicked us back to the PlayStation 4 menu, but the frequent saves made sure little progress was lost.

River City Girls gives the beat-em-up genre a new lease on life with its solid combat, stellar spritework, and sprawling world. Those that can stomach some backtracking will find an adventure worthy of biffing a few baddies over.

This review of River City Girls was done on the PlayStation 4. A digital code was provided by the publisher.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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