GAME REVIEW | More Brawls & Frustrations in "River City Girls 2"
How do I explain my relationship with River City Girls? On one hand, I can’t help but love the world, the characters, and the situations that Misako and Kyoko go through. However, their first adventure left me feeling bruised and in agony, thanks to how ridiculously hard it was! So why have I gone back to this world in River City Girls 2? Whelp, consider me a masochist for cute-yet-frustrating beat-em ups!
Continuing where the first game left off, River City Girls 2 finds Misako and Kyoko expelled from school. The Sanwakai Syndicate has taken over the city, and all sorts of chaos is being tossed about. However, these dangerous streets are no match for Misako and Kyoko, who do all that it takes to…buy the latest game in their favorite franchise. Okay, I guess they can also take down the syndicate, too, since they’ve got time to waste.
This time, the original River City Ransom duo Kunio and Riki can tag along to bring their own source of pain & punishment. As usual, the more you level up, the more you gain better skills and XP. (The game has a hilarious-yet-understanding reason why you’ll need to do this all over again, just FYI.) Even better, new fighters can join your roster, including a former Double Dragon damsel-in-distress.
While dealing with the Sanwakai Syndicate, there are also plenty of side quests to deal with. Whether it’s taking selfies in various parts of town or clearing some areas of local punks, these situations aid in building stamina, cash, and even some goodies that can be equipped to better your skills. Players can also find hidden areas filled with great Easter Eggs from games of console past, with some that’ll give veteran gamers plenty to chuckle over. (Makes me wish we can have a genuine Double Dragon/Kunio-kun crossover.)
Like in the previous River City Girls, Misako and Kyoko can recruit enemies nearing their defeat. They can be used a few times before they’re used up, but I couldn’t help but notice they just pop up to be defeated most of the time. Some of the bigger enemies can be helpful, especially when they throw a massive punch or a smoke bomb. However, considering that it’s a split-second decision between accepting help or landing the final punch, gaining this help can be tricky.
Thankfully, there are the Hired Heavies. If you’ve got some extra dough in your pockets, these guys can be plenty helpful with dealing with enemies and bosses. However, once they’re defeated, you’ll be forced to fork over more cash for assistance. But if you play most of the game solo, then these Hired Heavies will be plenty helpful with getting through the game.
How your experience with River City Girls 2 is will depend on how you play. Those that play with a friend in co-op or find someone online will no doubt have a blast exploring these streets. From my experience, finding someone online to play with was fairly easy, thanks in part to its cross-play option. Tackling enemies and bosses are a lot more tolerable with someone else in tow, although it’s best to stock up on food and drink to fill your health during these moments.
If you take this game on solo, then you’ll no doubt experience a rage unlike any other beat ‘em up adventure will give you. Enemies will overwhelm you, to the point where making a single hit is challenging enough. You can grab a weapon in just about any area, but the problem is you’ll need to be literally on top of it to snatch it. If you’re even just slightly a millimeter off, that weapon won’t come into your possession.
There’s also the problem with its checkpoint system. Although you can reside in many spots of the game to recharge your batteries, finding safe spots can be difficult. While you can easily get around from one spot to the next via the bus system, your life bar menu will drop to zero many times over before you can reach one. You can always just run away from opponents, but doing so might cost you the chance to properly level up or earn extra cash for food & power-ups.
Despite all of these gripes, I can’t help but be enchanted by River City Girls 2. Yet again, I’ve returned to a world that frustrates me so, only to be charmed by its retro visuals, humorous expressions, and — best of all — Megan McDuffee’s killer soundtrack! (Keep your ears peeled for the likes of Mega Ran and DJ CHIEF in one of the side quest songs!) Yes, this game makes me yell out obscenities that’d make George Carlin blush, but it’s cute enough to make me keep on going.
- Bigger worlds, more playable characters
- Solid online/local co-op play
- Very humorous narrative
- Difficulty spikes early
- Not enough checkpoints
River City Girls 2 is bigger and badder than its predecessor. But If you don’t have a friend or can’t find someone to play online with, then considered yourself screwed when taking this game solo. With that being said, if you can take the low blows and punches it dishes out, then you’ll no doubt discover something enjoyable about River City Girls 2.
Promotional consideration provided by WayForward Technologies. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.
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