River City Girls
PS4 version tested
Review code provided
Where I Am Coming From *DISCLAIMER & FULL DISCLOSURE*
I was never a fan of River City Ransom. In regards to the beat-em-up genre Streets of Rage 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time are my absolute favourites and even probably in my top ten games of all time. I have watched several reviews of this game on YouTube (for the Nintendo Switch) and read a few others before this game fell in my coop to review. They were all very positive, but nonetheless I always take an assignment serious to provide my own honest personal opinion and advice regardless of all of previously stated.
River City is run amok again with baddies. Kuni and Riki have gone missing and their girlfriend’s Kyoko and Misako have received a picture text of their abduction. The tables have been turned and it now time for the ladies to rescue the lads, but with only a picture to go providing the how and where the girls are left to figure out the who and where.
RCG stays true to its predecessor River City Ransom and the beat-em-up genre. There is a level-up system that unlocks new attacks and increased your attack and defense. You can purchase and equip items to provide beneficial perks. Random weapons are left all over the floors to use to your liking or steal them from the enemy. On occasion, some baddies will plead for mercy and you use them to aid you in fights for a very short period of time.
Well, unfortunately I feel Frank Costanza on Festivus Day because it is time for The Airing of Grievances: *Insert gif of him yelling, “I GOT A LOTTA PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!”
The Square Button
There is a problem here. When one button is designated as the standard attack, pick up weapon, AND move to another screen annoyance ensues. Often times an enemy is waiting right at the start of a screen, and at least for me, it just seems like the natural thing is to defend you. Do you get where I am going here? Me either… let me try to expand. If you end up fighting an enemy at the sides of each section then the command of move to next/previous sections is prompted over keep attacking. Thus, taking away from what you are doing and having to go back over to restart the portion of the map you were on. On top of that, when you decide to pick up a weapon you will use the square button if you are hit by any attack you drop it by your feet. Once again the pick up weapon prompt take priority over the attack so you can get stuck in a loop of getting attacked over and over because your character keeps trying to pick up the weapon then attack with it.
I feel like the weapon issue is fairly common in this genre but there was no need to map the change screen to the square button at all. It would have been better if once you walked all the way to edge of a screen if a text would come up asking you if you want to leave the screen or not, in my opinion. That is just one possible better idea over what the creators went with. It really bothered me leaving screens prematurely when knee-deep into fights.
The cut scenes before each boss fight are great and all but there is no need to show them every single time. In some cases the game even takes you back to the previous screen after you die to a boss. Now perhaps I just need to “get gud” and stop being such a “scrub/n00b” but I died to each boss several times. For example the second boss is on a rooftop and you ride an elevator up to the roof.
- Press square to ride to the roof
- The boss greets you and dialogue occurs
- A memory cut scene plays
- A second conversation happens
- A preview screen of you vs. the boss is displays
- Fight starts
- If you die go back to step 1 and repeat. If you win then awesome job you are better than me and advanced without this being an issue!
There is a skip option but of course you have to hold a button to fill an animated bubble font “SKIP” to do so. Also the step 2, 3 and 4 are all separate scenes so each one requires a skip and the fight preview screen is not skip-able. Is this the end of the world? No. Am I being too picky? Some will probably say so but it was genuinely frustrating to me and I am just being honest is all.
The henchmen enemies give us chickens a bad name! When three or more are attacking you only two will engage you unless you are on the ground then they will all gather around you waiting for you to get up. The others that are not engaging you will hang back and wait. There were numerous times I knocked down a few enemies and tried to go after the wimps hanging behind and they just backtrack away from you faster than you can walk toward them. They are constantly trying to get on both sides of you and just move faster so they are often successful at trapping you. It would have been nice for the enemies to have health bars as well because some seemed to stay alive far longer than their clones.
Who is paying six bucks for a bag of chips? The entire River City is being ripped off! Forget about all the thugs and violence the shops are getting away with highway robbery. When you get to the shops you do not even know what the item does until you buy also…HUH!? Imagine going into a store and dropping $100 dollars on an electronics product, but you have no clue what it does until after you buy it and there are no returns. Let’s go back to that bag of chips it only restores 10% of your health and I’ll tell you that is not useful at all. The best deal in regard to restoring health I found was a food that restores 25% for $18 and that is still a rip. I implore all the residents of River City to move out of this place at once.
Side Notes: Every time you die you will lose a decent amount of your money. You also only get one life. Once you die you will have to restart the screen you were on unlike most beat-em-ups where you at least get several one-ups to before your continue. Although, you can keep health items in your inventory to use as needed.
I was constantly switching between the d-pad and analogue stick for moving the character because both did not feel right. The analogue stick caused sprinting and dash attacks without double-pressing forward and the d-pad movement felt sluggish to me.
There were times when enemies were standing dazed right in front of me and all of my attacks missed them. The same goes for the stomp attack when the enemies are on the ground. I would be right on top of their bodies and the attack would miss.
I have seen it be claimed as “open world” but it is very linear. Sure some sections have branching paths but nearly every time there is only one direction you can go in and advancing the story will only open the other paths in each level. Not open world at all, at least in the reality I exist in.
Visuals & Audio
Both of these areas are phenomenal! I do not hate on this game just to go against the grain or to stand out at all. Despite not being a fan of the synth-pop genre of music I will not and cannot deny how superb it was for the game. The soundtrack fit perfectly and came off very professionally done. Visually the 16-bit vibrancy is dazzling. Animated cut scenes coexisting with comic book-like visual narrative telling was top notch. Let’s not get it twisted River City Girls looks and sounds FANTASTIC.
There are plenty of raving reviews of River City, but I honestly had some serious issues with the gameplay that I could not look past. I am sorry if you have played this title and feel the polar opposite of me (I hope we can still be Twitter Friends). The asking price of $29.99 (£24.99) is too high for me. However, a sale of $19.99 or less is a great deal. My recommendation is to get something like the Sega Genesis Collection and play the Streets of Rage series because you will get another 48 other games to play or the Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle that has seven different titles.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 05/09/2019
No. of Players: 1-2
File Size: 3.48 GB
Category: Action/Beat Em Up
Publisher: WayForward Technologies
Download link: PSN