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The Art of River City Girls - Book Review
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The Art of River City Girls - Book Review

Over three hundred pages of River City Girls artwork and bonus materials? Yes, please!

WayForward's River City Girls series of beat 'em ups is a favorite around here thanks to its lovable characters, amazing artwork, humorous writing, and abundant fanservice. Now there is a must-have book for fans of the series: The Art of River City Girls. The book was initially offered via preorders through Limited Run and is now available for purchase from Fangamer. I picked it up, and it definitely kicks some butt!

The Art of River City Girls Skullomania and Billy and Jimmy Lee

Pages 32 and 51 (RCG1 section)

The Art of River City Girls is a 324-page hardcover book that comes with a beautiful transparent slipcover. Beneath the slipcover, the book is presented as a faux yearbook for River City High School, an important location in the games. Contributing to the yearbook theme are "Class of 20XX" signature page spreads for all three games in the series. If you're lucky enough to attend an event where WayForward has a presence, these pages are perfect for signature collecting.

The book opens with an introduction from Adam Tierney, the creator of River City Girls whom we've interviewed about River City Girls Zero and other games. This is an art book, so it's fairly light on text, but many pages have blurbs from Adam that reveal choice bits of trivia and behind-the-scenes facts.

The Art of River City Girls Kyoko sprites and backgrounds

Pages 58 (RCG1 section) and 241 (RCG2 section)

The content of the book is divided into four main sections: River City Girls (Class of 2019), River City Girls 0 (Class of 2022), River City Girls 2 (Class of 2022), and Bonus Material. Each section opens with a gorgeous 2-page spread of the matching game's cover art.

The ~121-page RCG1 section and ~125-page RCG2 section contain subsections with artwork for the main (playable) characters, bosses, NPCs, enemies, and shopkeepers; pictures of the backgrounds, items, and accessories; pixel art; storyboards for the introductions; text-free manga pages, and more. The quality of the character artwork can't be overstated. It's wonderful to see so many pages dedicated to all of the playable characters and bosses, plus art for the many enemy palette swaps and obscure shopkeepers. As a huge fan of pixel art, I love the sprite sheets and background pages as well.

The Art of River City Girls RCG Zero pages

Pages 134-135 (RCG Zero section)

As for the ~23-page River City Girls Zero section, the artwork and content are focused primarily on the additional content that WayForward added to their version of Zero. Thus, the book offers model sheets for the characters as they're depicted in the new intro and cover artwork, but no artwork from the original Super Famicom game other than a photo of its cover. The manga pages and anime intro artwork here are cool, but Super Famicom sprites and backgrounds (even if they were originally created by Technos) would have made for a more comprehensive and uniform presentation.

The Art of River City Girls Marian pages

Pages 162 (RCG2 section) and 317 (Bonus Materials section)

The Bonus Material section offers early designs for many of the characters and bosses that differ from the finalized designs, plus the full assortment of in-game manga pages from all three games. Wait, didn't the individual game sections already show the manga pages? Well, the game sections have manga pages without word bubbles, and the bonus section has all 21 manga pages with word bubbles, in all of their readable glory. One might argue that publishing the manga pages both with and without words equates to printing filler material, but there are surely fans who will enjoy seeing the comic pages presented in both ways.

All told, the Art of River City Girls is an awesome book for fans of WayForward's River City Girls series. Half of the appeal of WayForward games is their stunning artwork, and this book lets readers take all that beauty in at their leisure. The art credits page lists dozens of contributing artists; it's good to see them get their due! The book's only weakness is its anemic River City Girls Zero section, but the main games are what really drive the fandom anyway. If you love the River City Girls and/or 2D beat 'em ups, don't miss this pretty publication!

The Art of River City Girls Book Back Cover

The Art of River City Girls costs $49 plus shipping at Fangamer.

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