Photos taken moments earlier than catastrophe. Picture: WayForward / Arc System Works
We’d have to attend a short time longer earlier than we will ora ora ora our manner into River Metropolis Ladies 2, however beat ‘em up followers can satiate their starvation by time-warping into the rerelease of a a lot older recreation from the ‘90s, now retitled River Metropolis Ladies Zero. It’s out for nearly each platform now, together with PC and Change.
River Metropolis Ladies Zero, put collectively by WayForward, is a localization of the Almanic-developed 1994 16-bit Tremendous Famicom recreation Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka. Due to the success of 2019’s River Metropolis Ladies, Shin Nekketsu Kōha is formally playable within the West for the primary time ever. As an alternative of dashing into brawls because the sukeban girlfriends Misako and Kyoko (don’t fear, they’re playable later within the recreation), you get again within the saddle as their beaus, Riki and Kunio.
WayForward / Arc System Works
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The beginning of the sport sees Riki and Kunio in jail after the pair had been framed for against the law they didn’t commit. After the requisite banchō squatting, the pair beat up the hardest guys within the slammer, escape, and start their warpath to unearth the jerk who orchestrated their demise. From this level on, RCG Zero’s narrative turns into a bloody recreation of phone during which the delinquents and their girlfriends beat up a string of punchable faces earlier than discovering who framed Riki and Kunio. Whereas RCG Zero’s preservation of Shin Nekketsu Koha’s graphics and music are welcomed, the preservation of its ‘94-era gameplay proved to be a hindrance to my enjoyment of the sport.
In contrast to RCG’s wealth of combo strings and wacky particular strikes, RCG Zero has a restricted arsenal of assaults. Your toolkit consists of a punch, a kick, blocking, a particular punch and kick, and the tried-and-true soar punch or kick assault. On paper, these bare-essential mechanics comprise each beat ‘em up. However in follow, they’re extraordinarily limiting, particularly contemplating the finickiness of the fight.
The denizens of River Metropolis are actual and they’re going to harm you.Screenshot: WayForward / Arc System Works
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Whereas it was simpler to land full combos in RCG, beginning your assault too near the enemy may result in whiffs and retaliation. RCG: Zero presents a lot much less margin for error on each fronts, so if you happen to don’t execute completely, 9 occasions out 10 the enemy’s assault will land first and knock you swiftly onto your beneficiant ass, making for an irksome playthrough.
In case your button inputs occur to be a millisecond slower than that of the pc’s, your would-be flurry of assaults is swatted away by a easy punch or kick. To take care of this, I both needed to cheese enemies with soar kicks or get fortunate by putting throughout the slender window of blocking certainly one of their assaults. All the identical, both of those ways made for a pyrrhic victory.
Misako used “flying sukeban.” It was actually efficient. Screenshot: WayForward / Arc System Works
This made the gameplay much less like a frenetic beat ‘em up and extra like a methodical recreation of kiting and micromanaging enemies at a chess participant’s tempo. To make issues worse, punches and kicks out of your characters really feel futile compared to enemies as a result of, in contrast to you, they don’t stagger when placed on the receiving finish of a combo. To make issues all of the extra irritating, their punches are likely to land extra usually and hit twice as onerous as yours. A recreation being tough is all nicely and good, however a recreation being this busted is simply extreme.
RCG Zero lacks RCG’s revive mechanic of stomping the ghost again into your Okay.O.’d physique, in addition to merchandise pickups. As an alternative, the 4 playable characters function your additional well being bars. For instance, if Kunio is getting torn from ass to urge for food, you’ll be able to swap to Riki, Kyoko, or Misako and make the most of their full well being bars to finish phases. However due to the aforementioned finickiness of hitboxes and enemies hitting arbitrarily tougher than you, preventing bosses grew to become a spree of swapping between characters and praying that my punches would land first.
Whereas RCG Zero’s gameplay was aggravating, all the pieces else concerning the recreation was fairly rattling nice. Proper off the bat, the sport wastes no time evoking the texture of a Saturday morning anime with its catchy theme track by returning Ladies composer Megan McDuffie. Its opening cinematic was additionally masterfully accompanied by the slick and profound throwback anime model of David Liu.
RCG Zero additionally has a bunch of customizations. From the pause display screen, you’ll be able to toggle a CRT (old-school TV) filter and alter the border artwork and display screen measurement. The sport additionally enables you to select between a comparatively literal translation and extra vivacious RCG-style textual content. Though WayForward initially discovered itself within the heart of some discourse over its wording of the unique textual content as “literal,” I most well-liked the RCG-style localization for its taste of side-splittingly hilarious language and since the extra I performed RCG Zero, the extra I discovered myself lacking RCG.
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“Let go my motorbike. I don’t know you.”- Kyoko (in all probability)Screenshot: WayForward / Arc System Works
This isn’t to say that RCG Zero is bereft of its personal enjoyable beat ‘em up segments, it’s simply that they proved extra tiresome than thrilling after some time. RCG Zero’s gimmicky ranges additionally are likely to overstay their welcome with the lengths of a number of the motion segments. As enjoyable because it was to leap atop a merry-go-round and kick baddies off their rooftops, having to repeat the motion an odd variety of occasions afterward made the artistic setpiece really feel like padding for the sport’s runtime. I’m additionally beginning to imagine that motorbike struggle scenes in video video games simply suck as a result of the gripes I had relating to padding and the sport’s demand for fine-tooth comb hitbox precision had been solely exacerbated in the course of the lengthy stretch of RCG Zero’s freeway fights.
Suffice it to say, though RCG Zero is a recent coat of paint on prime of Shin Nekketsu Koha: Kunio-tachi no Banka, the rote preservation of the old-school beat-’em-up’s gameplay does a disservice to the sport. As an alternative of simply injecting its modernized tackle the franchise by the lavish new cutscenes and textual content, I want WayForward had put some additional time into punching up its fight as nicely.