Previews

River City Girls 2 – First Impressions

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At this year’s PAX West, there was one game that I wanted to play the most. One that I kept going back to. I had the privilege of demoing the upcoming beat ’em up, River City Girls 2, by WayForward and Arc System Works. I wanted to be the first to play the game outside of WayForward, and as I’ve been able to say in the past, my wish was granted.

Limited Run Games, a close business partner of WayForward, shared their booth for the convention. It was there that I got to meet some of the WayForward team, including director Bannon Rudis, artist David Liu, and the “Tyrannical Overlord” and founder Voldi Way. There was also a brief appearance by Megan McDuffee, who composed and performed the soundtrack for the first and second games of the series.

I got a good hour-and-a-half demonstration with Bannon, who walked me through all the new features in the game.

I also was able to play the game again a few more times over the course of the convention, joining in with other attendees. These are my first impressions of the newest addition to the River City Girls series:

Local and online multiplayer

I’m leading off with arguably the biggest addition: enhanced multiplayer. Now instead of just 2 players, you can play with up to 4 players at the same time in local play. Another highly requested feature is now a reality as you can now play online with a friend. I have not been able to confirm if the game will support cross-platform play but hopefully it will eventually. [Update: It has been brought to my attention that cross-platform has in fact been confirmed! Fantastic news. -RN] There were apparently technical obstacles preventing them from upping it to 4-player co-op, and 2 is the most that can be offered at least at this time.

Button mapping

This is a big one for me personally, but that’s because I suck with some of the default controls. Most notably, I still struggle with running in the game (which is double tapping the direction you want to go). Now I’ll have the option to change that to a bumper button. I wish I thought to actually test this, though I did get to see Bannon swap the controls that had originally been assigned by the QA testers prior. It’s a simple feature that gets taken for granted.

New characters

You can play as up to six different characters right away. [Update: This was only true for the demo. For the full game you can start out with the base four of Misako, Kyoko, Kunio, and Riki, and can unlock Marian and Provie later on. My apologies for the error. -RN] The two new playable characters include Marian and Provie. I especially enjoyed playing as Provie with her b-boy dance attacks. I noticed Riki also got an improved moveset of his own. I really like his jacket attack, so flashy.

Improved visuals

Thanks to the handiwork of VFX artist Kevin Marble, the action has extra sizzle to it. There are new special effects that can be seen during attacks (bright stars and lighting effects on damage). It makes the special attacks pop out more. Also, I found the pause menu to be more aesthetically pleasing. Your smartphone that appears when you pause includes apps such as Snapr and Honkr which mimic popular social media apps. Snapr shows character art and Honkr is like a progress live feed for figuring out where you need to go next.

Quality of life enhancements

There are now two assists that you can see on your screen and you can toggle which one you want to use with the left or right trigger buttons. A big improvement is now items that you purchase in the shops are accessible directly from the HUD without having to pause the game. Just use the right analog button to switch between items and push down on it to activate. It came in handy for me during the first boss fight. Also in the shop, you can choose Yes or No for purchasing and using items while in the shop, which to me is more user-friendly than the previous way which was using a different button per selection. Good to not waste that Merv Burger before you need it. One neat detail added: you can now see the name of the character who runs each shop.

New challenges and enemies

I noticed the difficulty settings were named Normal, Tough, and Nightmare. I always played on Normal for the demo, as that was hard enough for me. The gameplay is very similar to the first from what I can tell, and that’s something that feels easy to learn but tough to master. When playing multiplayer, the game accounts for the number of players and adds enemies proportionate to the number of people playing. So if you’re playing with four players, expect a lot more enemies to appear on screen to keep everyone busy. The luchadora was maybe my favorite new enemy, although she kept piledriving me and was generally a menace any time on screen. Adding to the fun is that there are now even more objects that you can smash and destroy, with some of them capable of damaging you back if you’re not careful.

River City Girls 2 is scheduled to be released later this year with an exact date yet to be announced, but you can preorder a physical copy of River City Girls 2 through Limited Run Games now through Sunday, October 23rd. I really look forward to being able to play the game in full.

If you want to check out the rest of my PAX West 2022 coverage, including all the awesome games I got to play, I’ve made a Twitter thread which you can check out here.

Are you excited about River City Girls 2? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

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