River City Girls is a new Beat-Em-Up adventure from Wayforward and Arc System Works. It serves as an homage/sequel to the classic brawler arcade game River City Ransom. Anyone who knows Wayforward’s reputation from cult classics like Shantae or Arc System Works’ hits like Dragon Ball FighterZ will be correct when they expect that River City Girls has fun combat, great animation, and a killer soundtrack.
River City Girls feels like a proper new spin on an old formula. Very at home on the Nintendo Switch, River City Girls provides a fun co-op experience that works well in a portable medium.
River City Girls is an honest homage to old arcade beat-em-ups, which means that it is hard. Players will often die getting from point A to point B, and bosses are extremely tough. One such boss is Yamada, a magic-wielding miscreant who players will encounter as the second major boss of the game.
Through conversation with several NPCs, the player learns that Yamada is likely the “creepy guy” who the protagonists’ boyfriends Riki and Kunio were talking to before they got kidnapped. Yamada is a practitioner of the “Dark Arts” and can be found in a construction zone after players unlock access to the Mall.
Once at the construction zone, players will follow a relatively linear path with a few small-fry enemies up to an elevator. After taking the elevator up, players will encounter Yamada in his boss arena. The arena is a secluded rooftop where Yamada sulks about his lost childhood sweetheart.
Those who prefer games that feature fast-paced action, like Astral Chain, will feel right at home with River City Girls. In this game, jumping into the fray and dishing out damage is the key to success. However, Yamada is also quick and throws out many varied attacks.
Yamada has three phases. During the first phase, he has just one high-damage melee combo. If he is knocked down during this phase, he will teleport away and unleash a horizontal blast of magic, which knocks players back and deals heavy damage. During the second phase, at 2/3 health, Yamada will begin mixing up his pattern by levitating objects and spinning them in circles. Being hit by this detritus will damage players. He can also summon blocks of concrete to sandwich players, stunning them and dealing damage. Lastly, in the third phase at 1/3 health, Yamada will cause the screen to go dark, obscuring the players’ vision of the environment. While the screen is black, he will follow players, sending out a path of purple magic that, when touched, causes damage. He will also ramp up his levitation attacks and concrete-slab smashes.
Players who have experience with classic River City games or are familiar with Arc System Works' previous attempt at a River City refresh, Double Dragon 4, may find this fight fairly simple. However, new players may need to adopt some clever strategy to win.
In general, Yamada attacks horizontally. Many of his attacks, including the concrete slabs, magic blast, and magic trail, can be avoided by dashing either up or down. When Yamada levitates spinning objects into the air, the object that appears right above Yamada is always an apple that will recover a little heath. After that, moving in close to Yamada will avoid the other objects as they spin around, giving players the opportunity to lay into him with everything they have. Players will also have to look out for the edges of the boss arena, because it is possible to walk off the edge of the building, causing significant damage.
This danger, however, is also one of the best tools that players have available for beating Yamada. Yamada can also be knocked off the edge, dealing a large chunk of damage to his health bar. Kiting Yamada near to the edge, then hitting him with a combo or a move that causes a lot of knockback is a great way to bring his health down quickly.
Another way to deal some extra damage is to stomp on Yamada when he is down. Standing above him while he lies on the ground and tapping the heavy attack button will cause the player’s character to stomp on him. After Yamada is knocked down for a while he will teleport and do his magic blast attack, forcing players to dodge.
Lastly, consumable items can be the key to victory. This fight may seem too difficult, but players should expect a certain level of challenge from the makers of one of the best fighting games out there. Most players will take a lot of damage in this fight. Buying some food items in the mall beforehand can be very useful. Dying causes the player to lose half of their money, so spending on healing items before a boss fight is usually a good idea.
There are many more boss fights to overcome and hidden areas to explore, so players will find themselves coming back for more. Players should also keep an eye out for new Arc System Works fighting games coming out soon, especially if River City Girls is satisfying.
River City Girls is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.