You asked, and the devs answered: 12 questions about the original River City Girls!


Hard-hitting co-op beat-’em-up action, hand-drawn pixel graphics, RPG elements, an awesome soundtrack, and a healthy dose of humor – that’s River City Girls. Fans of 2D brawlers have been helping Misako and Kyoko pound punks into the concrete in this official entry in the River City/Kunio-kun series since it launched in 2019, with the game most recently landing on PlayStation 5, bringing with it DualSense audio and Activity functionality. To celebrate the occasion, we went on social media and asked you, the fans, for any questions you had about River City Girls’ development, and we got plenty of responses! Though we weren’t able to reply to everything, presented below are a dozen answers straight from the game’s directors, Adam Tierney and Bannon Rudis. Read on for some behind-the-scenes insight that went into the making of the game, and don’t forget: anyone can be a River City Girl!

1. What is the most fun thing about working with the River City IP?

Adam: It’s such a crazy, expansive world that’s been developed over the past 50+ games and nearly 40 years, and so little of it is known outside of Japan. So for me, getting to learn about all these dozens of characters and reimagine them in our game was a real highlight.

Bannon: I grew up on this series, so little baby Bannon would not even begin to comprehend how amazing it is to work with the characters and setting that inspired me to want to make video games in the first place. I have been able to expand on the series by actually combining several Technos IPs from my childhood favorites into one big, expansive, weird universe.

2. Why go with the Kunio series names? If Kyoko and Misako had localized River City names, what would they be (like how Kunio is Alex and Riki being Ryan)?

Adam: That’s actually the main reason — Kyoko doesn’t exist in any of the older US games, and Misako only appears in a handful of them. So it made more sense to just stick with everyone’s Japanese name rather than make up new English names that didn’t exist. As for what their English names would be, I couldn’t imagine — they’re just Misako and Kyoko.

3. What was it like developing Misako & Kyoko for a different style of game, compared to their previous appearances? What aspects of their personalities were kept and/or changed and why?

Adam: It’s hard to explain, but the personalities for Misako and Kyoko in our games just sort of sprung to mind. I like the idea of polar opposite characters being teamed up, so Misako being more grumpy and negative, and Kyoko being more cutesy and positive, makes for fun story moments. However, on the inside it’s almost flipped, which comes out occasionally — Misako tends to get more genuinely mushy about Kunio, but gets embarrassed when called out for it, and when Kyoko gets angry, it goes way beyond Misako’s fury. Classic Misako (in older games) tended to be a very sweet character, but they’re both pretty tough in the Super Famicom game, so we used that as our primary starting point and then just tried to make them as engaging and funny as possible.

4. How much of the Kunio-kun/River City lore was researched before writing the characters, the setting, and/or the story for the game? Was there anything provided by Arc System Works?

Adam: Oh yeah, Arc helped us out quite a bit with materials and information, and would correct us along the way when we got things factually wrong (such as which school particular characters went to). As for research done prior to writing our story, we looked up the various characters we would be including in our game, but the goal was never to recreate them exactly. River City Girls is more like a spin-off alternate universe through the WayForward lens, so we wanted to start with a relatively blank slate with each character, other than their established character design.

5. When it came to creating the unique fighting styles between Kyoko and Misako, what were the creative choices behind them and did the devs pull any inspiration from outside sources (e.g. movies, shows, books)?

Bannon: Misako was the first character we worked on. From the start, I saw her as the fighter who learned on the streets of River City. She is not elegant and you can see she stumbles in some of her frames. A couple of the moves were based on videos I took of myself throwing my whole body into the attacks. While Kyoko seemed a little fancier. So her fighting style is based on a prior life of training to be a dancer and being a volleyball player. The boys have a more classic Technos-inspired theme, borrowing moves from the original series and several sports titles.

Adam: Our overall goal was to provide players with a robust and high-personality set of attacks, but also ensure that they weren’t difficult to pull off. We wanted the challenge to be in fighting groups of enemies, not inputting each attack, and I’m pleased with how that came out.

6. What considerations go into level design and encounter design for a 2D (belt-scrolling) beat-’em-up like this one?

Bannon: This game was always meant to be more layered than a normal beat-’em-up. Layered as in more platforms to jump on, more walls to jump off of, and more verticality than other beat-’em-ups that mainly keep the players on ground level and don’t allow them to interact with the environment.

7. Why the dab attack?

Bannon: Because it’s obnoxious in the best ways and makes for an amazing meme gif.

8. Aside from the two main characters, which ones would you say are the developers’ favorites?

Adam: I’m pretty fond of Sabuko, who was an original creation of ours for the game. And once we recorded the VO, Mihoko became an instant favorite of mine. Funny enough, the same actor (Xanthe Huynh) did both of their voices.

Bannon: Yoko was a personal favorite of mine. She reminded me of a character I would have played as in Rival Schools.

9. How does it feel to know you guys had one of the coolest soundtracks of the year?

Bannon: Feels amazing. Yet, I am calling out all those singers out there that didn’t do any covers. I want to hear some cover songs, people.

Adam: Megan, Chipzel, Dale, Cristina, and Nate are some of the most talented people we know and it was a blast to work with them on the game’s soundtrack. And wait til you hear what we’re cooking up for the next game…

10. Aside from having the Double Dragon license, was there a specific reason to bring these two worlds together so much?

Adam: We grew up loving the Double Dragon games as much as River City Ransom, so when Arc informed us we would have access to both brands (and other various Technos IP) for this production, we were eager to take advantage of that. I think because we had also previously developed a Double Dragon game (DD Neon), we felt somewhat obligated to revisit those characters.

Bannon: It just felt like the right thing to do. They always flirted with these two franchises crossing over with nods and hints. But now that we have more creative control over the IP, we went full speed ahead with crossing the two licenses. They blend so seamlessly.

11. Was River City Girls 1 planned to have online co-op? If so, why did it end up not being in?

Bannon: We looked into it, but making online multiplayer efficiently work was far more complicated than originally thought. We didn’t want to put out something that wasn’t playable and ruined the experience. Good thing about the Steam version, though, is that it allows online multiplayer through their own service.

12. How’d you guys decide on what the final fight would be, and was that the plan all along?

Bannon: Sabuko was always meant to be the final boss. Some bosses were more pattern-based or were based on a specific genre of gameplay, like Hibari being a bullet-hell game. Sabuko was supposed to be your opportunity to use all the different moves and combos you have earned over the course of the game.

Adam: And of course there’s also a SECRET boss after Sabuko, but it requires some clever thinking and dedication to unlock. We had a lot of fun with that one, too, and it sort of caps off an old rivalry in the game in a fun, absurd kinda way.