Images taken moments before the disaster. Image: WayForward / The Arc system works
We may have to wait a little longer before we can ora ora ora our way to River City Girls 2, but beat ’em up fans can satiate their hunger by warping time in the re-release of a much older game from the 90s, now renamed River City Girls Zero. It is now available on almost all platforms including PC and Switch.
River City Girls Zero, created by WayForward, is a localization of the 16-bit Super Famicom game developed by Almanic in 1994 Shin Nekketsu Koha: Kunio-tachi no Banka. Thanks to the success of River City Girls in 2019, Shin Nekketsu Kōha is officially playable in the West for the very first time. Instead of rushing into fights like sukeban girlfriends Misako and Kyoko (don’t worry, they’re playable later in the game), you get back in the saddle like their in-laws, Riki and kunio.
The start of the game sees Riki and Kunio in jail after the pair are framed for a crime they didn’t commit. After the necessary crouching bancho, the pair beat the toughest guys in the slammer, escaped, and began their warpath to dig up the asshole who masterminded their demise. From this point on, the narrative of RCG Zero becomes a bloody phone game in which the delinquents and their girlfriends beat a series of punch faces before figuring out who framed Riki and Kunio. While RCG Zero’s preservation of Shin Nekketsu Koha’s graphics and music is welcome, preserving its 94-era gameplay proved to be a hindrance to my enjoyment of the game.
Unlike RCG rich combo strings and wacky special moves, RCG Zero has a limited arsenal of attacks. Your toolbox consists of a punch, kick, block, special punch and kick and the punch attack or kick that has proven itself. On paper, these core mechanics comprise every beat ’em up. But in practice, they are extremely limiting, especially given the finesse of combat.
The people of River City are real and they will hurt you. Screenshot: WayForward/Arc System Works
While it’s easier to land full combos in RCG, launching your attack too close to the enemy could lead to hot flashes and retaliation. RCG: Zero offers much less room for error on both fronts, so if you don’t execute perfectly, nine times out of 10 the enemy’s attack will land first and quickly knock you down on your bountiful ass, which which will make the game tedious.
If your button inputs happen to be a millisecond slower than the computer’s, your flurry of potential attacks are swept away with a simple punch or kick. To deal with this, I either had to cheese enemies with jump kicks or get lucky by hitting into the narrow blocking window of one of their attacks. Either way, either tactic led to a Pyrrhic victory.
Misako used “flying sukeban”. It was really effective. Screenshot: WayForward / Arc System Works
This made the gameplay less like a frenetic beat ’em up and more like a methodical game of kiting and micromanaging enemies at a chess player’s pace. To make matters worse, your characters’ punches and kicks seem futile against enemies because, unlike you, they don’t stagger when put on the receiving end of a combo. To make things even more frustrating, their punches tend to land more often and hit twice as hard as yours. A difficult game is all well and good, but such a failed game is just too much.
RCG Zero does not have the RCG relaunch mechanism of trample the ghost in your knockout body, as well as item pickups. Instead, the four playable characters serve as additional health bars. For example, if Kunio is Ripped from Appetite, you can switch to Riki, Kyoko, or Misako and use their full health bars to complete stages. But because of the aforementioned delicacy of hitboxes and enemies hitting arbitrarily harder than you, boss fights became a frenzy of swapping between characters and praying that my hits would land first.
While RCG Zero’s gameplay was aggravating, everything else about the game was pretty darn awesome. Right off the bat, the game wastes no time evoking the feel of a Saturday morning anime with its catchy theme song by Girls’ returning composer. Megan McDuffie. Its opening cutscene was also masterfully accompanied by David Liu’s smooth and deep throwback anime style.
RCG Zero also has a bunch of customizations. From the pause screen, you can toggle a CRT (old fashioned television) filter and change the border art and screen size. The game also lets you choose between a relatively literal translation and more lively RCG-style text. Although WayForward first found itself at the center of some discourse to its formulation of the original text as “literal”, I preferred the RCG-style localization for its flavor of hilarious language and because the more I played RCG Zero, the more I found myself missing RCG.
“Drop my motorbike. I do not know you. – Kyoko (probably) Screenshot: WayForward / Arc System Works
That’s not to say that RCG Zero is devoid of its own fun segments, it’s just that they turned out to be more boring than exciting after a while. RCG Zero’s whimsical levels also tend to overstay their welcome with the length of some action segments. As fun as it might be to jump to the top of a carousel and kick bad guys off their roofs, having to repeat the action an odd number of times afterwards made the creative centerpiece feel like felt like padding for the game’s runtime. I’m also starting to believe that motorcycle fight scenes in video games just suck because the gripes I had about padding and the game’s demand for fine-toothed hitbox accuracy were only heightened during RCG Zero’s long stretch of highway combat.
Suffice it to say that while RCG Zero is a fresh coat of paint on Shin Nekketsu Koha: Kunio-tachi no Banka, the rote preservation of old-school beat-’em-up gameplay does the game a disservice. Instead of just injecting its modernized take on the franchise through the new cutscenes and lavish text, I wish WayForward had also taken a little longer to ramp up its combat.
Article source https://kotaku.com/river-city-zero-wayforward-arc-system-works-review-1849574361