River City Girls 2, the sequel to WayForward's stellar beat 'em up RPG, finally launches on December 15. Things have come a long way since we last spoke to WayForward about the new game. We caught up with Bannon Rudis, RCG2 director at WayForward, to learn even more about the River City Girls 2 development process, RCG Zero connections, game balance, new features like 4-player co-op, and lots more!
Co-Optimus: Thanks for returning to our palatial headquarters for another obviously in-person discussion. We last interviewed you about River City Girls 2 in May. Have you had a chance to play any new games since then?
Bannon: I've mainly been playing Rumbleverse when I can actually find time, and Call of Duty: Warzone. I'm really liking the DMZ mode. It's like a roguelite first-person shooter where you can crush other player's hard work and effort at the last second. And for anti-social times: Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Co-Optimus: One game that came along over the summer is this year’s other big beat ‘em up release, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge. Have you had a chance to try it out?
Bannon: I have. Me and a couple of my friends all hopped on together to try it online. It's incredibly charming and fun to just mash away at Foot soldiers. I like how it focuses on gameplay instead of older beat 'em up arcade games that were more focused on being hard for the sake of gobbling up your quarters. River City Girls 2 is an incredibly different experience from TMNT though.
Co-Optimus: That’s true! Speaking of River City Girls 2, what stages of development has the game gone through since May?
Bannon: Stages of grief, mainly. Online multiplayer and cross play are no joke.
Co-Optimus: Ooh, let’s talk about online in a bit. With the River City Girls games, WayForward is working with the River City/Kunio-kun license owned by Arc System Works. Did Arc System Works provide stipulations about characters or the story? Did you have any ideas that needed to be modified at their request?
Bannon: They're pretty lenient with who we use and how we use them, but if it veers too wildly from lore and the core of the characters, they will chime in.
Co-Optimus: One exciting story element of River City Girls 2 is how it connects with River City Girls Zero, the classic 16-bit game that WayForward brought to modern platforms earlier this year. Can you give us some examples of connections between RCG2 and Zero?
Bannon: Mainly, that's the game that inspired the Girls series. The antagonists from that game make their debut officially in River City Girls 2. There's mention of one of the main villains in the first game, but we intentionally kept them hidden until the sequel. Plus, RCG Zero is a Kunio game that had bigger characters instead of the usual chibi/chunky character sprites. That's why our characters are bigger and more vibrant in RCG 1 and 2.
Co-Optimus: I love those bigger characters. Focusing on the gameplay, the first RCG was a bit tough for some gamers. Has the difficulty balance been adjusted in the sequel?
Bannon: The sequel has three difficulties that players can choose from. The difficulty levels and balancing is more in favor of the players [to help with facing] multiple enemies at the same time. There are new techniques and moves that really let the player get into more advantageous situations. This allows players to creatively stomp the mess outta anyone they come across.
Co-Optimus: Glad to hear it. Speaking of beginner players, what would you advise them to first prioritize when buying from the in-game shops and restaurants?
Bannon: I always tell players to eat one of each food item. They shouldn't think of them merely as regaining lost HP. Think of [food items] as permanent stat boosts that also heal you. And please, please, please bring healing items to boss fights. We made it much easier to do this as well. You would never fight a Final Fantasy boss without some potions and Phoenix Downs.
Co-Optimus: River City Girls 2 has an improved enemy recruitment system – two recruits can be equipped at a time, and all recruits can be selected from the player’s hideouts. In the first game, I’m always unsure of just how much I should beat up enemies if I’m trying to recruit them. Any advice?
Bannon: If they are the last enemy alive, get them down to about 20 percent health. Additionally, this time, you'll see them glow yellow when they're stunned, and they will get up begging instead of being dizzy as well.
Co-Optimus: The new game features two new playable characters: Provie from River City Ransom: Underground and Marian from Double Dragon. Let’s talk about Provie first. How do we say her name, and what is her backstory?
Bannon: So, Provie is a real person and friend of mine. I butchered her name for the first couple years of knowing her. She never corrected me. It's pronounced "Proo Vee." In the game, she's best friends with a character named Chris, who would eventually start a gang of her own. They trained together and Provie is the sassy one. The sassiness is definitely based on the real-life Provie.