HomeVideo GamesGAME REVIEW | Breaking Out of Lost "River City Girls" Prequel

GAME REVIEW | Breaking Out of Lost "River City Girls" Prequel

GAME REVIEW | Breaking Out of Lost "River City Girls" Prequel

WayForward’s River City Girls was a neat take on the classic Kunio-kun series. Showcasing the happenings of the River City Ransom world from the perspective of the girlfriends was something that should’ve happened years ago. Funny enough, such an occurrence did happen back in 1994; the English-speaking world just wasn’t fortunate enough to experience it. Now nearly thirty years later, the once-titled Shin Nekketsu Koha: Kunio-tachi no Banka has finally arrived in the form of River City Girls Zero.

The game begins with Kyoko showing Misako a video game about their first adventure together. First turned-off by the old graphics, Misako becomes surprised by how much fun she’s having playing the lost game. But fearing that new gamers would be turned off by the old style, the two friends decide that it needs some cut-scenes, new songs, and possibly a more revamped translation. From there, the real game begins!

River City Girls Zero has Kunio and Riki thrown in jail for something they didn’t do. After breaking out of prison, they reunite with Kyoko and Misako to take down a gang of thugs who’ve taken over their high schools and stomping grounds. But on the way there, Kunio seeks to find the person who framed him and Riki, which leads him all the way to the top of the food chain. From the school halls to even the pachinko parlor, Kunio, Riki, Kyoko, and Misako leave a trail of unconscious bodies on their quest for the truth!

As the game is a port of a Super Famicom game, the gameplay itself isn’t as outstanding as the main River City Girls. With that being said, even with that era’s limitations, there’s surprisingly a lot of depth, personality, and even mechanics that make it almost feel like a side-scroller made today. All four characters can be played and switched out anytime during gameplay, giving gamers the experience of how each person handles their enemies. Best of all, none of them — even Kyoko and Misako — have any weird flaws or limitations.

One of the charming elements of River City Girls Zero is its story & dialogue. Whether it’s with the original or revamped translation, the characters emote with such hilarity, with their friends crying over how much it sucks that they have to WORK when they want to have FUN! It’s apparent that Kunio and the rest of the cast are bigger dorks than legit tough guys. They’re high schoolers, after all, so of course they’ll geek out over something like a roller coaster ride after they lay waste to a bunch of punks.

But you won’t just do fisticuffs in this game; there are also some fun riding mechanics too. In a moment that feels straight out of Road Rash, players can bike at high speeds while knocking enemies off their cycles. It’s a wicked tough aspect to River City Girls Zero, as players can attempt to deal with more enemies at a safe speed or less punks while hitting 200 kilometers an hour and trying not to fall yourself. Either way, you’ll have your work cut out for you!

Control-wise, most of the game is pretty easy to handle. Performing combos, ground attacks, and jump maneuvers is simple enough to master after a couple of levels. However, whoever made it so the Main Menu appears when you tough the ZR button should have to deal with one of Kunio-kun’s barf-inducing punches! Almost every time when I am mid-battle, my fingers keep touching the ZR button, putting the menu up and taking me straight out of the zone!

The only downside is its short three-hour playtime. Of course, this was the common length for most Super Famicom-era beat-em-ups, so it can be forgiven just a little bit. With that being said, it would’ve been nice to have some of expanded experience here while we wait for the true River City Girls sequel.


  • Classic beat-em-up fun
  • Good amount of gameplay variety
  • Characters have enough uniqueness when playing


  • Short campaign
  • Button layout needs a bit of changing


River City Girls Zero is a terrific little distraction before the real sequel arrives. The “lost” story of Kyoko and Misako’s first adventure is a lot of fun, especially when you have a second player with you to tag along. It hasn’t aged like fine wine, but River City Girls Zero has as much charm as any Blockbuster rental of those hidden direct-to-video gems.


Promotional consideration provided by WayForward Technologies. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)