River City Girls Zero release date and details confirmed by Japanese trailer  

Misako, Kunio, Riki, and Kyoko, as they appear in the River City Girls Zero capsule art.
Misako, Kunio, Riki, and Kyoko are back for a brand new adventure that’s not so new! Pic credit: WayForward/Arc System Works

Arc System Works recently dropped a Japanese trailer of River City Girls Zero — and it’s pretty sweet! But now you may be thinking, didn’t this title come out for the Nintendo Switch already? Indeed it has and published by WayForward in Western territories on February 14, 2022. 

Interestingly, the Nintendo Switch version has yet to hit the Japanese eShop, but WayForward’s Western release does offer Japanese language support. However, things are about to change, as the Japanese release trailer confirms a multiplatform release on September 22, 2022.

Digital releases of River City Girls Zero will hit the Japanese Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, and PC (on Steam). Reportedly, the PlayStation and Xbox versions will release on September 13, 2022.

Misako and Kyoko appear in an anime scene from the game trailer.
A retro-inspired anime scene from the trailer showing Misako and Kyoko. Pic credit: WayForward/Arc System Works

The trailer opens up with a cheesy bubblegum pop song sung in English. It alludes that this is and isn’t a brand-new game, and that’s true. While this is technically a new release, it’s an enhanced version of 1994’s Super Famicom release of Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka -with River City Girls Extra- that was only available in Japan.

Lately, there’s been a trend of bringing older games to new audiences and platforms, similarly to Record of Lodoss War Chronicle. And another notable trend is the proliferation of quality Japanese fighting and action games, such as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R and Melty Blood: Type Lumina. However, Arc System Work’s upcoming title brings classic belt scrolling action to the table. 

River City Girls Zero is unapologetically old school 

Those that have played any of the River City Ransom and Double Dragon games of old will feel right at home here. River City Girls Zero offers single and two-player local co-op modes and the ability to play as either Kunio, Riki, Misako, or Kyoko.

Kunio and Riki from River City Girls Zero fight bad guys on a bridge.
Kunio and Riki dishing out punishment in 16-bit style. Can you dig it? Pic credit: WayForward/Arc System Works

The game’s visuals are identical to the original game, meaning gamers should expect a faithful replication of the Super Famicom’s 256×224 resolution and aspect ratio, hence the black bars. While some gamers may detest this, purists and fans of the original title should be thrilled.

Kunio, Riki, Misako, Kyoko, and a downed enemy appear in a story scene.
The humorous story scenes only make River City Girls Zero more appealing. Pic credit: WayForward/Arc System Works

But it’s supposed to be enhanced and looks like the original, so what gives? Well, the enhancements are significant in the audio department. These include English and Japanese voiceovers on specific scenes and extra music produced by DEMONDICE and Megan McDuffee. Also, there’s multilanguage support for the subtitles and user interface, but the amount of languages supported varies on different platforms.

Kyoko kicks an enemy during the motorbike battle sequence in River City Girls Zero.
The motorcycle battle sequences showcase the Super Famicom’s Mode 7 pseudo-3D effect. Pic credit: WayForward/Arc System Works

Other niceties include an animated intro, motion-comic cutscenes, an image gallery, and additional content that weren’t part of the original game. Overall, it’s a well-rounded package that gives modern audiences the opportunity to play a cult classic brawler with a few bells and whistles.

Who were Technōs Japan Corp., and why do they matter?

Super Famicom box art of Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka featuring Misako, Kunio, Riki, and Kyoko.
The original Super Famicom box art of Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka. Pic credit: Almanic Corporation/Technōs Japan

Founded in 1981 by three former Data East employees, Technōs Japan Corp. became a prolific developer of arcade beat ’em ups. In 1987, the company developed Double Dragon, a two-player arcade brawler following the belt scrolling formula pioneered by their Kunio-kun (Renegade) game that featured more arena-like levels.

Taito distributed Double Dragon across Asia, Europe, and North America, and it became a huge hit that helped popularize the beat ’em up genre. Technōs went on to develop sequels to Double Dragon, and also created more technically accomplished titles such as Shadow Force and the superhero-inspired Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer featuring character designs by Masami Ōbari.

Unfortunately, Technōs filed for bankruptcy in 1996, but Million Co., Ltd was subsequently formed to purchase its intellectual properties. Million went on to create games based on these properties for the Gameboy Advance, and Nintendo DS, and reissued older titles on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console. And in 2015, Arc System Works purchased all of Technōs’s intellectual properties directly from Million Co., Ltd.

With its highs and lows, Technōs has earned its place as a developer that played a crucial role in Japan’s early video game history. Hopefully, Arc System Works will continue building upon its legacy.

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