You’ve heard of River City Ransom, River City Tokyo Rumble, River City Girls… the list goes on and on. Now you have the chance to go back to one of the earlier games in the series, in River City Girls Zero! An English translation of the beloved 16-bit brawler “Kunio-tachi no Banka.” Released in 1994 for the Super Famicom. Fans of the series who’ve never been able to play an official, localized version of the game will be happy that this long-awaited revival is finally available.

River City Girls Zero is a gritty, side-scrolling, 2D brawler that follows the story of four teenagers on the run. Kunio and his friend Riki are being chased by the law on a mission to clear their names. Along the way, they meet up with girlfriends Kyoko and Misako (look familiar?). The player can switch between any of the characters with the press of a button, which is very convenient. RCGZ is also a co-op adventure and, in my opinion, is a lot more fun when playing with a friend.

The player can punch, kick, jump, and block in the beginning. The move set is very basic, and some enemies take forever to beat when playing solo. Later in the game, you’ll acquire new clothing that will give you different moves and techniques, but it’s nothing too crazy. The “flying kick “is my favorite ;D. So while the game looks great and sounds great, it plays almost the same as it did when it was first released. This isn’t a bad thing for fans of the genre. However, new players may find the gameplay sluggish and repetitive. I know I did. It was unexpected and definitely made the game hard to play. But after a while, I was used to it and just wanted to see where the story was going.

I love the retro graphics. The detail and colors remind me of MegaMan X. If you’re going to use retro graphics, they better be pretty. In this case, they lend a great deal to the quality of the story and gameplay. I love the animated cutscenes and artwork. It makes you feel closer to the characters and story. The environments change quite a bit throughout your adventure, from prison, to school, to the open road. It makes the story more exciting. The level where you’re riding a motorcycle is by far my favorite.

The game is relatively short. When you start a new file, you can choose an easy or normal difficulty. I recommend easy if you’re not used to these types of games. You could probably finish it in under three hours if you’re experienced. One of the main drawbacks is that there really is no reason to play it again after that. Also… there’s a lot of reading. RCGZ is very linear and story-driven. So expect to fight, read, fight, and then read some more. But, like most retro games, we come for the nostalgia, and we stay for the nostalgia.

While I really didn’t like the slow fights and basic move set, I still had a good time getting to know the characters and progressing through the story. So if you’re a fan of the River City series and want to take a trip back in time, this is a good place to start.