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Video Game / River City Girls

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We're gonna fight you
With all our might to
Get back our boyfriends
We love them so!
We'll take the world on,
And sing this dope song!
Don't mess with us, we're the River City Girls!

It seemed like a peaceful day in the River City High to Misako and Kyoko, two street-tough high-schoolers, until they hear some shocking news: their boyfriends Kunio and Riki, the toughest, baddest guys in the town, have been kidnapped. Now they must fight their way through the regions of River City to get them back, and who knows what assortment of strange villains they'll meet along the way...

The 2019 entry to the Kunio-kun series developed by WayForward Technologies, River City Girls is a departure for the franchise. Besides starring the heroines (a callback to the 1994 SNES game Kunio-tachi no Banka) and using a new graphical style, it fuses the original's Japanese setting with Western tastes to create a distinct Americasia outlook. It follows the open-world system in River City Ransom, but not without new gameplay additions. Perhaps surprisingly, it only has English voice acting, even though it's still published by Arc System Works that currently owns the rights to the series. It's releasing for Nintendo Switch, Xbox ONE, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows.


See also River City Ransom: Underground, another Western-developed Kunio-kun game that was crowdfunded and released in 2017; and Double Dragon Neon, another WayForward-developed game based on a Technos property released in 2012.

River City Girls provides examples of:

  • Achievement Mockery: The "Killed By Math" achievement, given out for being defeated in the first room of the game.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Kyoko somehow managed to get detention in a school she doesn't even attend.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Misuzu originally look like a burly middle-aged man dressed like a schoolgirl. Misuzu in this game still has an enormous, blocky figure, but a much more feminine face and decently-sized breasts.
  • Adaptational Badass: Misako and Kyoko are notably more badass than their first appearance, going from weaker than the boys to being able to throw down on their level. Noticably, in their first game, the girls couldn't grapple enemies. In this one, they're strong enough to pick said enemies up and use them as bludgeons. Hasebe and Mami make up a Bonus Boss in this game, while both of them were just passive love interests during the rest of the franchise, with Mami even being the Damsel in Distress for River City Ransom.
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  • Adaptational Curves: Marian from Double Dragon appears in this game, this time wearing an outfit that exposes her stomach, showing off her ripped abs. The two heroines appear to have more curves compared to their debut, as well as Reika.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Both Hasebe and Mami become rude and snotty in this game, with a flashback even going so far as to show that they both bullied Misako and Kyoko since grade school. In fact, you're going to be really glad when you get to fight them both in the Bonus Boss fight. And when you beat them both, they both act like Sore Losers, going so far as to accuse you of cheating.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Misako and Kyoko are revealed in the end to not be Kunio and Riki's girlfriends in this game. Instead, the boys are revealed to be dating Hasebe and Mami, respectively. The ending to the True Final Boss fight against Hasebe and Mami turns this into a meta-joke, with the duo's debut in Kunio-tachi no Banka being revealed to be something akin to a forgotten first date.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Kunio and Riki, previously able to beat down entire gangs, were kidnapped at the beginning of this game. Subverted, since they were just at a sauna all day.
    • Godai goes from a late game boss in River City Ransom to a scrawny bystander who does not display any kind of fighting ability.
  • Americasia: River City in this game has Japanese style private schools where American cheerleaders and Japanese Delinquents coexist. Burger joints serve their food out of izakaya-style restaurants, mixed martial arts dojos can be found in western suburbs with traditional and colonial-style housing, department stores resemble malls, Japanese and English text can be found everywhere, and the town even has an English name. Characters have Japanese names but speak only in English with fashion being a similar mix. Perhaps the best reflection of this is the game's character designer Rem, an American artist well known for her mangaesque comics.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: Similar to Kunio-tachi no Banka, River City Girls adopts a new pixel art style that looks substantially different from even the 16-bit Kunio-kun games, utilizing a brighter, more colorful palette.
  • Ascended Extra: Prior to this game, Misako was a regular NPC (with occasional playable roles) in the Nekketsu Sports spinoffs, while Kyoko's only playable appearance was in Kunio-tachi no Banka before cameoing in a couple of other sports games. As opposed to what most westerners think, Kyoko and Misako were the boys' girlfriends in Kunio-tachi exclusively, with Mami and Hasebe being the original girlfriends to Kunio and Riki. This is brought up for laughs in the Cruel Twist Ending, since Kunio and Riki don't remember them, and are still dating Mami and Hasebe.
  • Assist Character: Sometimes a defeated enemy may surrender, whom you can befriend and call to provide temporary assistance.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Misako and Kyoko on the cover art and the opening sequence.
  • Badass Adorable: This being a WayForward game and all, pretty much all of the female cast could count (female Mooks included) with a notable exception in Misuzu, who isn’t exactly cute, but even she has her appealing qualities for some players. The other exception would probably be Sabuko, the final boss, due to being probably too old (but still good-looking) and intimidating to really fit the classical definition of “cute”, but even she has a move in her boss fight where she does a Doppelgänger Spin attack where her and all of her illusions strike a silly pose while visibly blushing.
    • Special mention goes to Hibari the fashion designer, who’s so short you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s just a little girl with a rather Creepy Cute fashion sense at first glance and she has an oddly endearing nasally voice and affected manner of speaking. She’s also That One Boss, is the only character who can outright fly and summons zombies during her fight, so she’s possibly a Necromancer, too.
  • Badass in Distress: Kunio and Riki are kidnapped, driving the plot of the game. Except not really; they were just at the sauna all day.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening animation shows the kidnapping of Kunio and Riki, alongside a date with their Misako and Kyoko. The former never happened, and if the latter did, it was a long time ago.
  • Blood Knight: This time around Misako and Kyoko are both rather extreme in their beatdowns, with some of the most over-the-top comedic violence in the series. They're even punching each other back and forth for the loading animations, and are effectively crazy delinquents tearing everything apart and having fun along the way for it. The fact that they're clingy exes beating up the entire damn town on a childish, insane whim under the delusion that their alleged "boyfriends" were taken from them only further highlights them as batcrap insane.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The game can play fast and loose with the fourth wall at times, often lampshading some of the goofiness in the city.
    • When Yamada starts to reminisce, the screen starts to fade to white...with Kyoko fearfully wondering what's going on and Misako pointing out it's a flashback. They then proceed to heckle all through said flashback.
    • There's quite a bit of meta-humor in the Bonus Boss fight against Mami and Hasebe, with Kyoko and Misako wondering why the normal Final Boss isn't there, and Mami and Hasebe pointing out that Kyoko and Misako's previous game was one that never left Japan.
    • One of the Enemy Chatter lines is "I wonder if anyone is reading this?"
  • Bullfight Boss: One option for fighting Misuzu is to stand next to a pillar or the walls, wait for her to start a charge, then leap over her. She'll be stunned after hitting the wall, opening her up for attack. There are other ways to beat her, though.
  • Call-Back: Several to other games in the Kunio-kun series, in particular River City Ransom.
    • In RCR, Cyndi is being held in a classroom on the third floor of River City High. Here, the game starts with Misako and Kyoko in a classroom on the third floor of River City High. However, the entryway carpet on the first floor reveals the Japanese name of the school is Nekketsu High, not Reihou Academy like in the Japanese version of RCR. It's the very first clue that these are not the girlfriends of Kunio and Riki.
    • Yamada (Slick/Simon in RCR) still has a thing for hanging out on rooftops.
    • Several of the shops from River City Ransom are still open (most notably, Merv Burger), and the stat buffs from eating there are comparable (accounting for different stat systems) to the originals.
    • Among the Enemy Chatter lines is the series staple "BARF!"
  • The Cameo:
    • Alongside many Double Dragon baddies, the Lee brothers and Marian themselves appear as shopkeepers.
    • There's a graffiti of Kebako from Cat Girl Without Salad outside the school.
    • Linda from Double Dragon and Trash (the third boss from The Combatribes) are both among the mooks you encounter.
    • Skullmageddon of all people (the final boss from Double Dragon Neon) runs the Pawn Shop and helps the girls with an honest to God smile. This may be the player's first hint that the girls might not be as good as they seem.
    • Sabu is reduced to this - formerly the Final Boss of several previous Kunio-kun games, now only present as a stone bust that Misako and Kyoko can break. Justified in-story as he's still in prison after some of his previous actions.
    • Outside of the high school two guys are sitting on the grass, doodling on tablets. RubberRoss / Ross O'Donovan on the left and Egoraptor / Arin Hansen on the right.
  • Canon Immigrant: While hardly the first game to feature the Double Dragon cast (River City: Rival Showdown had the Lee brothers in its battle mode), this game goes a step further by integrating its bad guys into the story mode, Abobo and Burnov. Then we have Skullmageddon running a shop.
  • Captain Ersatz: There are enemies in the game, who are, as the game so succinctly describes them “Giant robots from the future disguised as giant robot looking humans.” They’re very obviously inspired by the robots from the eponymous Terminator franchise and make what can only be described as Arnold Schwarzenegger noises.
  • Captain Obvious: Mami during a flashback Kyoko has to her childhood where she’s being bullied by her and Hasebe.
    Hasebe: Stupid Kyoko, you're just a joke-o!
    Mami: Hey, that rhymes!
  • Characterization Marches On: The characters are somewhat different from their original counterparts to varying degrees. Hasebe and Mami, who were all-round nice girls in the original series, act more rude and snooty towards Kyoko and Misako in this game. It might actually be an example of foreshadowing with the reveal at the end that Kyoko and Misako are just crazy exes who think they're still Riki and Kunio's girlfriends, with Hasebe and Mami being the boys' actual love interests.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • The male students will pick up some dirt and throw it in your eyes. The description for them states that they have no problems fighting dirty due to a sense of entitlement. When they do this it will instantly stun you and open you up to whatever attack they or the other Mooks decide to use on you next unless you mash out of it fast enough. If you recruit one of them, you can have them use it on your enemies with the same effect, which is great if you like using grab attacks. Notably, it goes through both you and your enemies' blocks but it’s pretty short-ranged, so staying mobile is a good way to not leave yourself vulnerable to it. Conversely, it’s also pretty hard to hit moving enemies with it.
    • The player can get in on this too, by using weapons against unarmed enemies, though the enemies aren’t really fighting fair by ganging up on the player either and they'll use weapons on you too, so it all evens out.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Continuing after you've lost all your health costs 25% of your cash. It's especially painful if you've saved a lot.
  • Denser and Wackier: This is very much the most bizarre entry of the River City franchise with the slapstick turned up to the max, especially when compared to other games, such as Kunio-tachi no Banka where Misako and Kyoko first appeared. In that game, the girls are nearly killed by gunshots, whereas here they shrug off a fall from a high skyscraper with no trouble.
  • Destination Defenestration: After getting beaten the Final Boss gets kicked out of a skyscraper window. Unfortunately since they do a flying kick they go out the window alongside said boss and drop right into the spa that the boys have been chilling at all this time.
  • Distressed Dude: Kunio and Riki, usually the protagonists, are kidnapped this time, leaving their girls doing the rescue. Except it turns out they weren't kidnapped to begin with. They had just been spending the day at the spa.
  • Elite Mooks: The red paletted version of every enemy tend to hit very hard, have a unique description, and are typically hinted at being either a leader or someone more powerful or important than their rest of their palette swaps, and if recruited can take 4 hits before leaving you instead of 3. The gray skinned palettes are invariably some variety of zombie or undead, are even stronger than the aforementioned, and can take 5 hits.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The Twist Ending that reveals the girls aren't actually Kunio and Riki's girlfriends and were just a pair of crazy exes and the kidnapping which set them off never actually happened recontextualizes nearly every scene in the game.
  • Enemy Chatter: It wouldn't be a sequel to River City Ransom without it. It ranges from standard cries of pain (several variations of Ow, My Body Part!), to the meta ("I wonder if anyone is reading this.") to the series staples ("BARF!").
  • Expository Theme Tune: The above song, which plays during the intro.
  • Executive Suite Fight: The final boss fight takes place in Sabu's office of the Sanwakai tower. Only this time it's his daughter you have to deal with.
  • Fighting Clown: Arguably everyone except Misako falls into this to some degree or other. Kyoko does a literal dab to send enemies flying, Kunio eats a hamburger, and Riki combs his hair.
  • Flashback Effect:
    Misako: I thought you guys were friends.
    Yamada: We were... a long time ago.
    (screen starts turning white)
    Kyoko: What's happening?
    Misako: Ugh, it's a flashback. NO ONE CARES YAMADA!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Yamada recalls Kunio falling for Hasebe in grade school, while neither Misako nor Kyoko bring up any interjection as to why Kunio ended up with Misako instead later on, which is probably the first hint that Misako isn't actually Kunio's girlfriend. Sure enough, in the end, it's revealed that Kunio still is interested in Hasebe.
    • Upon defeating the fourth boss, who (truthfully) denies his involvement in the kidnapping of Kunio and Riki, he gives his own take on the situation based on what he knows:
    Abobo: "So, maybe they weren't kidnapped."
  • Fun with Acronyms: While at the school, a classroom features a lesson on Punching Until Bricks Explode Right Towards You.
  • Game Gourmet: You can buy various food items throughout the game as healing items. The first time you eat something you gain a permanent stat buff.
  • Giving Up the Ghost: Misako in the opening scene while struggling in detention with Kyoko.
    Misako: That's it, I'm dead. Here lies Misako, killed by numbers.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: In contrast to Kyoko's more acrobatic and dance-inspired style, Misako's attacks are much more straightforward brawl maneuvers. She's no less deadly for it.
  • Healing Shiv: When playing Co-Op, you revive your teammate by stomping on their corpse until their soul returns to it.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Kyoko points out that Misuzu doesn't even go to the school they're fighting in. Neither does she. She's somehow still in detention though. At least Misuzu admits that she's just there for the money.
    • Yamada flashes back to his one true love that spurned him. At age ten. Who he never really spoke to. The girls make him out to be a sad, sad individual for this which is fair enough. They are in the exact same situation, they barely knew Riki and Kunio who don't even remember their names.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Kunio, when he's unlocked, can whip his enemies with a towel, of all things and eat a hamburger with enough force to knock back enemies.
    • Riki gets in on this too, using his comb. He can throw it torwards his enemies to distract them before either rushing torwards them and unleashing a combo or siccing his shadow on them. It's not really clear. He can also attack enemies behind him by combing his hair. Yes, you read that right.
  • Inescapable Ambush: Forced enemy encounters in the city make chains appear on the screen's borders and prevent the player from leaving the area until all enemies are beaten.
  • Irony: "BARF!" is infamous for being the comical and common defeat cry of most enemies in River City Ransom. Which makes it extra-funny when Kunio's defeat animation has them nearly barfing instead.
  • It Amused Me: Kyoko was expelled from a school for stealing basketball hoops, with no real reason stated. Misako even calls her weird for that.
  • Leaked Experience: The character you're not controlling still gains any experience and cash awarded from quests.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Kyoko wonders just why it seems the whole city is interested in having an all-out brawl at pretty much all times, while Misako brushes it off.
    • Appropriate for this American-made entry into the Kunio-kun series, Kunio and Riki have no memories of Kyoko and Misako, who were previously in an entry in the series that never left Japan. Hasebe and Mami point it out to the duo before the fight.
  • Lost in Translation: Much of the dialogue plays off and parodies American high school tropes and comedy that would fly over the heads of many Japanese players. The very first scene, for instance, has the girls stuck in detention, immediately establishing them as troublemakers. Misuzu's claim of being smart because she was held back for three years wouldn't make much sense in Japan, where students aren't allowed to repeat a year as school standards are taken much more seriously than in American high schools. Consequently, a lot of jokes were rewritten in the Japanese dub.
  • Made of Iron: Kyoko and Misako kick the final boss out of a window, and they survive both a massive fall from the top of a skyscraper, but also the subsequent crash landing at the sauna Kunio and Riki were at.
  • Megaton Punch: Used by Misako and Kyoko in the ending on Kunio and Riki after the latter's turned out to be their exes who don't remember their names.
  • Mirror Boss: Hasebe and Mami fight using variations of Misako and Kyoko's attacks. Their fight even manages to incorporate the revival mechanic as the fallen combatant's soul flying around the arena to assist the remaining girl.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the main menu screen, there's a writing on the wall behind Misako (who is sticking out her tongue) that says "Crash & the Boys".
    • The help notices feature 8-bit Kunio, in all his boxy glory.
    • The optional arcade that Misako and Kyoko can visit has a machine playing an old 8-bit Kunio-kun game, with semi-regular closeups of Kunio.
  • Nice Girl: Kyoko is considerably nicer than Misako, being way friendlier and kinder to NPC and even bosses than her in spite of being as a big of a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend as Misako
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: The gray paletted Terminator parody - a magically undead cyborg from the future.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Godai's voice actor seems to be unsure of whether to use an Irish or an American accent.
  • Overlord Jr.: The Big Bad of this game is Sabuko, daughter of traditional Kunio-kun antagonist Sabu.
  • Paper Tiger: The zombie enemies. Sure they look scary as a zombie should, but they take forever to attack you and they go down in one tap. Because of this, they don’t actually give any EXP either.
  • Plot Hole: The game starts with Kyoko being sent a photo of Kunio and Riki being seemingly forced into a suspicious van, but we never find out where it came from. The ending's revelation that Kunio and Riki weren't really kidnapped, they were just at a sauna and never told Kyoko and Misako because they'd long-since broken up, makes it even more inexplicable.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Kyoko and Misako beat up the entire city to rescue two guys they only thought were kidnapped, and who don't so much as remember them.
  • Purposely Overpowered: Kunio and Riki are only unlocked after beating the game and have moves that are far more powerful than Misako or Kyoko's movesets.
  • Retraux: While certain features are high-definition, the game, in general, is pixelated to resemble 16- or 32-bit, while the music sounds more specifically like the Sega Genesis. The Secret Shop is back, and this time, in contrast to the still crisp look of everything else, it has the same 8-Bit style that's practically expected of the series.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Wouldn't be a River City game without enemies saying "BARF!"
  • Secret Character: Beating the main game unlocks Riki and Kunio as playable characters.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Turns out that Riki and Kunio were never really kidnapped, they've just been hanging out in the spa all day. Also, Kyoko and Misako aren't their girlfriends, they're just incredibly clingy exes.
  • Shamu Fu: Tuna are one of the many improvised weapons found in the game. There's even an achievement for defeating an enemy with one.
  • She-Fu: Kyoko's fighting style is heavy on kicks, flips and dance moves, including a dab strong enough to knock enemies to the ground.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Misuzu starts her boss battle by shouting "GET OVER HERE!"
    • The boss fight against Noize contains one towards Guitar Hero. Every time Noize goes on stage to play her guitar and sing her song, colored discs slide on the battleground from the upwards position to the downwards position.
    • The wrestler enemies are named after famous wrestlers' real names, including The Rock (Dwayne), Vader (Leon), and Rob Van Dam (Szatkowski). Even Aurelien. They also wear tiger masks.
    • Hibari looks like a character straight out of Touhou, and fights using simple Bullet Hell patterns as you might see in those games.
  • Skewed Priorities: Riki, when defeated, will lay on his back in defeat, Sit up to comb his hair one last time, then lay back on his back in defeat. Guess he wants to make sure he looks good at his funeral.
  • Smash Sisters: Misako and Kyoko, for obvious reasons.
  • Spiritual Antithesis:
    • River City Ransom: Underground leans heavily toward the American side of the franchise with character names, having a grungy 90s aesthetic, and a significant Time Skip. River City Girls on the other hand leans more toward the original Japanese games, with the use of the original Japanese names for most of the cast, has a lighter aesthetic, and the cast are still high-schoolers in a more contemporary time period.
    • Within the Nekketsu Kouha branch of the Kunio series, Kunio-tachi no Banka has high stakes, lots of grounded gang violence, some tragedy and is overall the darkest game in the series. The chronological follow-up River City Girls has its share of violence, but a lot of it is more over-the-top and slapstick, the general mood is much more comedic, and the lower urgency of the simple premise (possible kidnapping) leads to barreling through overwhelming odds with gusto, including more fantastical rivals. Oh, and there is singing.
  • The Ahnold: The Terminator-like mooks, with accented gibberish.
  • There Was a Door: Misuzu makes her appearance by punching her way through the wall. In the pre-boss fight dialog, Misako tells her to to punch through another wall until she figures out how doors work.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Misako is the tomboy, Kyoko is the girly girl.
  • True Final Boss: By beating the normal final boss and smashing all the Sabu Statues, you unlock two halves of a pendant that when equipped allows you to fight Hasebe and Mami in where you normally fight Sabuko, which gives you some context for the actual ending of the game.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: After Kunio and Riki blow off Kyoko and Misako, the girls uppercut them into the stratosphere.
  • Visual Pun: A room in Sabuko's building has money being washed in washing machines and hung to dry. Literal money laundering.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Kunio's defeat animation has him puking his guts out (not literally). Poor guy must’ve got punched in the stomach a bit too many times.
  • Wham Line:
    Hasebe: They barely remember you!
    Mami: Yeah, you guys dated them for, like, one 16-bit game.
    Hasebe: invoked That wasn't even released in the USA!
    Mami: Talk about obscure.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the epilogue, Kyoko wonders what happened to Sabuko or Mami and Hasebe after they were sent out a window.
    • It's never actually revealed who sent the pictures of Riki and Kunio to the girls in the first place.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: If one of the girls croaks, their soul will fly around and can assist the remaining girl on the field. As can Hasebe and Mami.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: The girls can learn various wrestling moves such as dropkicks, German Suplexes and even a Stunner.


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