After Apple Arcade and Netflix, Crunchyroll entered the game subscription service party (?) with its Crunchyroll Game Vault for mobile bringing premium games to mobile as value adds for subscribers. The launch games included some older titles now a part of the Crunchyroll Game Vault, and also WayForward’s River City Girls (Free) which saw its mobile debut through this service. Shaun already reviewed the game on Switch here, and I agree with basically all of that. For this review, I wanted to cover how the game has aged with the sequel out on other platforms, and how the port is through the Crunchyroll Game Vault.
If you’ve never heard of River City Girls, it is actually a new entry in the Kunio-kun/River City franchise from Arc System Works, but one that has you playing as Misako and Kyoko instead of Kunio and Riki. It excelled for its style, music, voice acting, and most of the gameplay when I played it on Xbox a few years ago. The Switch version was plagued with some performance issues, but is in a better place right now. It did have co-op, and I always felt like the game was balanced around that rather than being accessible to solo players.
There’s quite a bit of freedom in River City Girls through its open-esque locations with shops, enemies, and more. As a beat ’em up, it isn’t as polished as something like Streets of Rage 4 if you’ve played that, but I still think fondly of how much I enjoyed River City Girls and still love its characters. Moving from location to location and eventually getting to memorable boss fights (some sadly aren’t fun), and upgrading and unlocking more for your characters. This is one area I wish the team went back to balance better. If you play solo like I did both originally and now, the game feels too tedious with enemies having what feels like inflated health pools. After unlocking and upgrading a bit, things become a lot more fun, but it is still challenging even on normal difficulty. I couldn’t test the online on the mobile version, but the game itself only supported local co-op. I hope if WayForward does bring River City Girls 2 to mobile, it includes the online multiplayer as well with cross platform matchmaking.
Now, River City Girls on iOS on my iPhone 15 Pro and iPad Pro (2020) has performance issues. It also looks excellent in most parts. The few issues I ran into have to do with how the aspect ratio of certain things has been handled causing cropping or elements hidden behind the home bar in parts. Some of the touch targets are also too small with tiny text in menus. These usually are the tabs you’d swap between in the menu using the shoulder buttons on the controller, but they need to be tweaked for iPhone and iPad. One more thing I’d like to see is proper cloud save support. I logged into my account on both iPhone and iPad and my progress did not sync across for the game.
Speaking of controls, River City Girls has controller support, and it works great. It does only show Xbox button prompts in my testing at least. When using touchscreen controls, you sadly cannot adjust the positions or size of these touchscreen buttons unless I missed something. They work well on iPad, but feel a bit cramped on the phone. I hope a future update can add options to adjust these like we’ve seen in the Hitman: Blood Money – Reprisal release.
Barring the few control and interface issues, River City Girls still has the flaws of the original game with regards to balance for solo play and some bosses not being as much fun. This version is updated though, so you don’t mistakenly end up changing location when you’re attacking enemies near a door or something. I did enjoy revisiting it a few years later though, and still prefer it to the sequel in many ways.
Whenever I review a game that’s only in a subscription service, it is worth looking at whether the game offers enough value to warrant subscribing to said service. River City Girls is priced at $29.99 on Nintendo Switch, and while it being “Free” for subscribers is fantastic, it isn’t enough to justify subscribing. Maybe when there are more games, but right now this is a good value add for existing subscribers. If you don’t have a Crunchyroll membership, details about subscription pricing are here on the official website. You need the Mega Fan tier ($9.99 per month) or the Ultimate Fan tier ($14.99 per month) to also access the games in the Crunchyroll Game Fault.
If you already have River City Girls on another platform, there isn’t anything of note with this release to warrant replaying it. If you don’t, and have a Crunchyroll subscription that includes the Game Vault, it is absolutely worth playing. I always liked River City Girls despite its flaws, and while I hope the iOS version gets patched to improve controls and its interface, it is a good port. River City Girls itself is gorgeous with an amazing soundtrack, and I still prefer it to the sequel.