There are some pretty standard rules in arcade brawlers. You’ve gotta have co-op, that’s for sure. But you’ve also gotta kick things off with a kidnapping. More often than not, that means getting two mean-looking lads to rescue their dames. Bit naff, innit. River City Girls flips the script, with two ass-kicking lasses saving hapless daniels-in-distress Kunio and Riki, the lads from the series’ very first game. They’ve been nabbed by the cops, see, so it’s time to go to town and do some crime.
Leading ladies Kyoko and Misako have popped up in Kunio-Kun (River City Ransom’s Japanese name) series before – the former as a fighting sidekick, and the latter as a (wait for it) soccer captain in one of the franchise’s many sports spin-offs. A helluva lot of them are about dodgeball, too. Huh.
Like the less sports-focused River City Ransom brawlers, Girls is a slightly non-linear side-scrolling punch up with a little bit of an RPG twist. Kyoko and Misako will eventually level up, and shops will sell you a wide range of boosts, consumables and new moves to mix up your mashing. You can even recruit some baddies after beating them into a pulp, letting them jump back into the fray on your team.
It looks quite nice, too. There’s no shortage of pretty pixels out there, but River City Girls has a real colourful pop look going on. Colourful streets full of hip millennial types, with a genre-mandated pop-synth soundtrack.
Still waiting for a brawler to take on a River City closer to home, mind. Get in there, Stevie.
River City Girls is out now on Steam for £24/€25/$30. It’s published by Arc System Works.