Co-Optimus - Interview - River City Girls 2 Developer Interview

River City Girls 2

  • Online Co-Op: 2 Players
  • Couch Co-Op: 2 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
River City Girls 2 Developer Interview
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River City Girls 2 Developer Interview

Learn who's playable and what has been upgraded in the upcoming beat 'em up.

Last week, we interviewed Adam Tierney of WayForward about River City Girls Zero, which is out on Switch and scheduled to arrive on other platforms soon. Zero isn't WayForward's only upcoming River City Girls game, though. River City Girls 2 is due out this year, introducing online play and lots of new features to the series. To learn more about the hotly anticipated beat 'em up sequel, we interviewed Bannon Rudis, RCG2 director; Colleen Fannin, RCG2 producer; and Adam Tierney, RCG1 director and RCG Zero project lead.

Co-Optimus: Thanks for sitting down with us for yet another clearly in-person interview. First, Bannon and Colleen, could you tell us a little about your experience in game development and some of your favorite non-River City/Kunio-kun beat ‘em ups?

Bannon Rudis: My first title was a beat-’em-up called River City Ransom: Underground. We did a Kickstarter, and I worked on that project for about three years non-stop. Then I got offered a job at WayForward. As far as non-Kunio-kun beat ’em ups, I would say my favorites are Dragon’s Crown, Alien vs. Predator, and Guardian Heroes.

Colleen Fannin: The first beat-’em-up I ever played was Photo Dojo, shortly followed by Code of Princess! I’ve worked on a number of games with WayForward, including the Double Dragon Neon Nintendo Switch port, but this is my first real experience with the beat ’em up genre in terms of game development. 

River City Girls 2 Developers: Bannon Rudis, Colleen Fannin, and Adam Tierney

Left to right: Bannon Rudis, Colleen Fannin, and Adam Tierney

Co-Optimus: As I asked Adam last time, why do you think the River City/Kunio-kun franchise has been on such an upswing in western markets these past few years? Does it all come down to Arc System Works stepping in?

Bannon Rudis: Arc System Works took over the franchise when I was still working on my first River City game. So I've been working alongside them for almost eight years now at this point. They're big fans of everything Technos, so they have a lot of passion for the series. I think sharing Kunio-kun to a wider audience that maybe didn't grow up with it like they did is something they're excited about.

Colleen Fannin: With cute anime girls and bright colors, anything is possible!

Double Dragon Neon

Double Dragon Neon

Co-Optimus: The first River City Girls is easily one of the best beat ‘em ups of its generation, much like Double Dragon Neon before it. Is the first game’s most requested feature what I think it is?

Bannon Rudis: The most requested by far is online [co-op]. We've been working non-stop to make it run as smoothly as possible. I've been playtesting online a lot and it always surprises me how well it plays. In fact, most of the trailer footage I recently recorded was done online to show off how good it really is (plus I didn't want to drive to work). The amount of double-team combos you can pull off on the fly with a friend never gets old. 

Colleen Fannin: Would you consider Marian’s abs a feature? :D

River City Girls 1

River City Girls 1

Co-Optimus: The more Marian, the better! Anyway, where does the story of River City Girls 2 pick up, and are Kyoko and Misako still dating the River City Ransom protagonists, Kunio and Riki, in this sequel?

Bannon Rudis: It starts exactly where the last one finishes. The happy couples are blissfully unaware of a new enemy rising up from the ashes of the previous one. 

Co-Optimus: Besides the protagonists, who are some of the returning characters in RCG2? Will the Double Dragon or Combatribes characters show up in this one?

Bannon Rudis: I never like spoiling too much about cameos because I love seeing people's reactions when they stumble across new or familiar characters. There will be plenty of returning characters and familiar ones making their River City Girls debut.

Adam Tierney: I will tease — there are some major additions in RCG2 that we specifically held back from the first RCG game because we wanted to give them their own moment to shine. Realizing some of these characters after thinking about them for four or five years has been great, and we can’t wait to see player reactions. 

Colleen Fannin: All I’ll say is, I cannot wait to see the next “All Hidden References in RCG2” lore video on YouTube!

Kyoko and Misako

Kyoko and Misako (River City Girls 2)

Co-Optimus: Art, music, and voice acting are some of the first game’s strengths. How have these elements changed or grown in River City Girls 2?

Bannon Rudis: There's a lot more dialogue this time around. The music is a lot more thought out to really capture the mood of each area players will visit. One of the biggest improvements, for me, are the VFX. They replicate that over-the-top anime vibe. Also, sound effects. The city sounds much more alive and brings it a lot depth.

Adam Tierney: In addition to there just being more dialogue, the [characters who are speaking] also change based on who the players are currently controlling, something we wanted to do on RCG1 but wasn’t feasible at the time. So whether you’re playing as Misako and Kyoko this time, or Riki and Kunio, or Provie and Misako, whatever the combination — those are the characters you’ll be hearing. We’re also adding Japanese voiceovers as an option as well, which we gave players a preview of in RCG Zero.

River City Girls 2

River City Girls 2

Co-Optimus: The first RCG added several interesting gameplay systems like accessories and recruits to the open-world, action RPG-style design of River City Ransom. Do these mechanics return in the sequel, and will there be any new ones?

Bannon Rudis: There are plenty of new items and accessories. Accessories got an overhaul from the first game. You can see visual cues on your characters when they take effect and the abilities they give you are more prominent.

Recruits now allow you to have two at the same time, so you can mix and match to fit your fighting style. The recruits you captured are readily available to choose from back at your hideouts. In addition to that, you can find hired henchmen that are essentially powerful recruits that you can hire. 

River City Girls 2 Kunio and Riki art

Kunio and Riki (River City Girls 2)

Co-Optimus: Speaking of open-world gameplay, the first game had a fairly polished and useful map to aid with navigation. Does the map work the same way in the sequel?

Bannon Rudis: The map system got an overhaul as well. There's a whole new social media app called “Honkr” on your phone that will help guide you through your journey and [a GPS feature that] will lead you to important destinations. This game is massive and has multiple paths, so you're going to need all the navigation help you can get. 

River City Girls 2

River City Girls 2

Co-Optimus: I always enjoy wielding weapons in a beat ‘em up. What kind of weapons will River City Girls 2 have to offer?

Bannon Rudis: We added in a couple new weapons. Also some accessories that affect your weapons as well. The saxophone is one of my new favorites.

Co-Optimus: What’s the cooperative experience like in RCG2? Do the enemies still beat the living player down while he or she tries to revive a downed partner? ;)

Bannon Rudis: Reviving is much easier this time around, and we are far more forgiving… when players are defeated. They can either restart in the same scene (with all their items back) for a cost, or they can choose to go back to their last hideout with all their items and health to regroup for no cost at all. 

Colleen Fannin: Even though it’s more forgiving in RCG2, Normal mode is still very hard for me. :’)

River City Girls 2

River City Girls 2

Co-Optimus: While we’re talking about online co-op, how does the game manage two players with different save files joining the same game? Does the non-host player get to make progress on their own save file when joining someone else’s game?

Bannon Rudis: This was one of the trickiest things about this game to manage. If you and a friend stick together and play the game side by side from the beginning, you'll be on the same path together. If you join a game already in progress, you're considered a guest in the host's city and you won't progress your story. You'll gain money and XP, keeping whatever accessories and items you buy, but none of the main storyline items are awarded to guest players. That way, you don't suddenly jump past story progression in your own game. 

Provie and Marian (River City Girls 2)

Provie and Marian (River City Girls 2)

Co-Optimus: In the first game, players started as Misako and Kyoko but could eventually unlock Kunio and Riki. Who is playable at the start of the sequel, and whom will we be unlocking further in the game?

Bannon Rudis: You'll have access to all four of the main characters from the start. They've all gotten a glow up too with how they fight and function. Additionally, Provie [from River City Ransom: Underground] and Marian [from Double Dragon] are available very early on in the game.

Co-Optimus: Speaking of characters from River City Ransom: Underground, I always felt that game missed a huge part of its audience by only coming out on PC. Given that you, Bannon, worked on both Underground and River City Girls, is there any chance that WayForward could someday bring back Underground on newer systems as it has recently done with River City Girls Zero?

Bannon Rudis: I've gotten this question many times since the game came out. My answer is always the same. I would love for the game to be on every platform ever made and beyond, but due to legal stuff I cannot talk about, it's unfortunately probably never going to happen. Sorry.

River City Ransom: Underground

River City Ransom: Underground (Provie at top)

Co-Optimus: That’s a downer! Getting back to games that will happen, have you shared a release window for River City Girls 2 yet?

Bannon Rudis: We tell everyone late summer. So start practicing your 100-hit combos.

Colleen Fannin: Summertime! Grab a flower crown and get ready for fisticuffs!

River City Girls 2

River City Girls 2

Co-Optimus: Finally, is there anything else you can tell us about River City Girls 2?

Bannon Rudis: I think people are going to be blown away by the sheer size of the city. It's honestly not like any game out there right now. It's a classic pixel beat-’em-up that you can play online. It has ridiculous combos, free-roaming mechanics, plenty of characters to meet and interact with, huge levels, and secrets tucked away in every little nook and cranny. I would be shocked if players found most of the stuff during their first couple times playing through the game. I think players are going to love exploring the city while beating up everyone in their path.

Adam Tierney: And while you’re waiting for RCG2, go check out RCG1 and RCG Zero. All three games stand on their own, but if you’ve played through River City Girls and Zero first, you’ll have an even deeper understanding of the characters and rivalries we’re focusing on in the sequel.


River City Girls 2 will launch on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and Steam in 2022. The first River City Girls is now available on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and Steam. River City Girls Zero is out now on Switch and coming to Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam in 2022.

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