River City Girls 2 Review – Solid beat 'em up with design flaws

River City Girls 2 Review – Solid beat 'em up with design flaws

The Kunio-kun series has long been known to fans of the beat 'em up genre. Originally developed by Technos, the series experienced a small revival in 2019 with the offshoot River City Girls. Rather than being rescued by their two friends as in the older installments, Kyoko and Misako threw themselves into the fray to thwart their hometown gangsters. The action of River City Girls 2 begins immediately after the events of the first part. After the two heroines were able to temporarily shut down the underground organization in their homeland, they return to familiar school life. But it is well known that evil does not sleep and shortly after the heroic deed of the two, the Yakuza took over their school. There's only one thing left: skip school for a month and play video games until you've forgotten every fighting technique you learned in the first part.

Face this time the River City Girls take on the villains along with their friends. Nevertheless, the Studio WayForward has obviously made an effort here. All action-relevant dialogues are set to high-quality English voice output and are bursting with charming humor. You have to be able to relate to the exaggerated staging, but then you'll be thoroughly entertained. The trick with the one-month break also has a tangible playful effect: the status values ​​​​of the two heroines are reset to zero, so you have a fresh start to the game. In addition to Kyoko and Misako, her two friends can also be selected as playable characters right from the start.

Regardless of which of the four characters you choose, the core gameplay of River City Girls 2 remains the same. Starting from your headquarters, you set out to bash your way through the different areas of River City, punching the various villains in the process. Unlike other genre representatives, which rely on a linear flow, exploration in River City Girls 2 plays a relatively large role. There are always side scenes where you can collect money, for example, which in turn allows you to learn helpful items or new combat techniques in the various shops. This gives River City Girls 2 a light RPG component that can be quite motivating.

The emphasis is on can, because unfortunately there are some design Decisions and technical limitations that spoil the fun of exploring. On the one hand, the different areas of the game are divided very delicately. Every time you switch between the individual screens, you have to stare at a loading screen for a few seconds. While this is still bearable the first few times, it quickly becomes annoying and spoils the fun of the game, especially during a longer game round. On the other hand, your characters move quite slowly by default, which is particularly noticeable in the vertical, because you can't sprint here. Exploring the actually nicely designed world becomes tedious. A real "flow" just doesn't want to come up.

Over time, your characters will learn new combat skills.

© Arc System Works / WayForward< River City Girls 2 scores points for the actual combat gameplay. The first part already provided a good basis for the sequel to build on. The game's core moveset follows genre conventions, offering fast standard attacks and more powerful attacks that can be chained together. In addition, you unlock new movement patterns that can give you an advantage through new levels of experience or by buying attacks. It is interesting that River City Girls 2 also relies on an RPG mechanism here and, in addition to the life bar, also displays a separate energy bar that shows how many points you have available for special attacks. Depending on the situation, you have to see whether a special attack in the specific situation is worth the points or not. The fights are always fun and challenging, even if monotony sets in after a certain time despite various updates can complete in game. This includes finding items for NPCs or taking selfies in front of certain locations. All tasks are saved in your phone, which also gives you an overview of items in your inventory. The many tasks also give you a reason to explore the really beautifully designed city with its various locations. The detailed pixel graphics of River City Girls 2 are not only an eye-catcher for nostalgics. In combination with the harmonious soundtrack, the title offers you a beautiful backdrop through which you can fight.

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