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River City Girls Zero’s Charming Presentation Masks A Frustrating Vintage Beat ‘Em Up

We may have to wait a bit earlier we can ora ora ora our way in River City Girls 2but beat ’em up fans can satisfy their hunger by jumping back in time to a re-release of a much older game from the 90s, now renamed River City Girls Zero. Now it is available for almost all platforms, including PC and Switch.

River City Girls Zero, created by WayForward, is a localization of Almanic’s 1994 Super Famicom 16-bit game Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka. Thanks to the success of 2019 River City girls Shin Nekketsu Koha for the first time officially playable in the West. Instead of jumping into the fray as sukeban friends Misako and Kyoko (don’t worry, they’ll be playable later in the game), you get back into the saddle as their beaus, Riki and Kunio.

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At the start of the game, Riki and Kunio are in jail after the pair were framed for a crime they didn’t commit. After the obligatory bancho squat, the pair beat up the toughest guys in the jailhouse, escape, and start their journey of war to find the jerk who orchestrated their deaths. From now on RCG zeroThe narrative turns into a bloody phone game in which delinquents and their girlfriends beat up a series of impenetrable faces before discovering who set Riki and Kunio up. Bye RCG zeropreservation Shin Nekketsu KohaThe graphics and music are welcome, keeping the gameplay from the ’94 era prevents me from enjoying the game.

Unlike RKG’rich combo strings and stupid special moves, RCG zero has a limited arsenal of attacks. Your toolbox consists of a punch, kick, block, special punch and kick, and a proven jump kick or kick attack. On paper, these elementary mechanics make up every beat ’em up. But in practice, they are extremely limited, especially given the finicky nature of combat.

The people of River City are real and they will hurt you.  (Screenshot: WayForward/Arc system in action)The people of River City are real and they will hurt you. (Screenshot: WayForward/Arc system in action)

Although it was easier to perform full combos in RKGby launching an attack too close to the opponent, you can get hit back and hit back. RCG: nil offers far less margin for error on both fronts, so if you don’t do it perfectly, nine times out of 10 the enemy’s attack will land first and quickly push you into your generous ass, making it tedious to go through.

If your buttons are pressed a millisecond slower than a computer, your intended flurry of attacks is countered with a simple punch or kick. To deal with this, I either had to kick the enemies while jumping or got lucky by hitting the narrow block window with one of their attacks. However, any of these tactics resulted in a Pyrrhic victory.

Adorable presentation of River City Girls Zero masks disappointing vintage Beat 'Em Up

This made the gameplay feel less like a frantic beat ’em up and more like a methodical game of kiting and micromanaging enemies at the pace of a chess player. To make matters worse, your characters’ punches and kicks seem useless compared to enemies because, unlike you, they don’t stagger when combos are thrown at them. What’s even more frustrating is that their punches tend to land more often and hit twice as hard as yours. The difficulty of the game is good, but a game with such a failure is already too much.

RCG zero lacks RKGrespawn mechanic trampling the ghost back into his knocked-out body, as well as receiving items. Instead, the four playable characters serve as your extra health bars. For example, if Kunio is looking for an appetite, you can switch to Riki, Kyoko, or Misako and use their full health bars to complete stages. But with the aforementioned finickyness of hitboxes and enemies hitting arbitrarily harder than you, boss fights have become a series of character switching and praying for my hits to land first.

Bye RCG zerothe gameplay was tiring, everything else in the game was damn great. From the very beginning, the game wastes no time evoking the feeling of a Saturday morning anime with its catchy theme song, returning Girls composer Megan McDuffie. Its introductory video was also masterfully accompanied by David Liu’s graceful and deep anime style.

RCG zero also has a bunch of settings. On the pause screen, you can switch the CRT (old school TV) filter and change the screen frame and size. The game also allows you to choose between a relatively literal translation and a more lively translation. RKGtext style. Although WayForward was initially at the center of some discourse wording of the original text as “literal”, I preferred RKG-style because of the taste of funny language and because the more I played RCG zerothe more I lost myself RKG.

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Adorable presentation of River City Girls Zero masks disappointing vintage Beat 'Em Up

It doesn’t mean that RCG zero devoid of its own fun beat ’em up segments, it’s just that after a while they turned out to be more tiresome than exciting. RCG zerouseless levels also tend to be discouraged due to the length of some action segments. As much fun as it was to jump on the carousel and toss the villains off their rooftops, having to repeat the action an odd number of times afterward made the creative decoration feel like a runtime addition to the game. I’m also starting to believe that motorcycle fight scenes in video games just suck, because the complaints I had about the padding and the game’s demands for fine-toothed hitbox accuracy only got worse over time. RCG zeroRoad fights.

Suffice it to say though RCG zero it’s a fresh coat of paint on top Shin Nekketsu Koha: Kunio-tachi no banka, mechanically retaining old-school beat’em-up gameplay does a disservice to the game. Instead of just introducing my modernized take on the franchise with flashy new cutscenes and text, I wish WayForward had put a little more time into the combat system as well.

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