River City Girls
Image: WayForward

The Kunio-kun spin-off River City Girls returned earlier this month with the release of River City Girls 2, and Nintendo Life was lucky enough to catch up recently with game director Bannon Rudis as well as WayForward's director of business development, Adam Tierney.

Before we dive in, be sure to check out our Nintendo Life review, which was published last week. We thought it was a strong-but-safe sequel that offers up just as much fun as the first in addition to four-player co-op.

If you are curious to learn even more about River City Girls 2 and what's on the horizon for the sequel as well as the team at WayForward, you've come to the right place!

Nintendo Life: Can you tell us about your roles on River City Girls 2 and a little about your history at WayForward?

Bannon Rudis: I directed River City Girls 2 and helped with animation, level design, and a bunch of other stuff. I started there about six years ago right as I was wrapping up my first game outside of the company. My first WayForward game was The Mummy Demastered. That's where I shadowed the director of that game and learned the ropes.

Adam Tierney: I oversee bizdev and publishing at WayForward. On River City Girls 2, I wrote the dialog script again and helped with the cinematics planning.

Was a River City Girls sequel something you were thinking about before the first game was released? Were any story and gameplay ideas already locked in place years ago?

Adam: We definitely held some things back from the first game for RCG2, namely the inclusion of villains Ken, Sabu, Ryuji, and Ryuichi. We didn’t want to use up all the major character debuts in the first game. And of course, the plot of RCG2 is a pretty direct follow-up to the events of the first game (and of River City Girls Zero, the Super Famicom game that inspired ours).

Bannon: The stuff I wanted to bring was a more open world and four players for the sequel.

We definitely held some things back from the first game... We didn’t want to use up all the major character debuts.

Can you tell us a bit about the new character crossovers in River City 2? (E.g. Marian from Double Dragon) How did you decide on these particular characters? And are there plans for any other new characters in the future?

Bannon: Marian had been the damsel in distress in the Double Dragon series for about four decades. She had enough of that role and formed herself into a tough boxer that uses grappling moves. The second new character is from my first game I ever released called River City Ransom Underground. She's based on my real-life friend of the same name. Her sassy attitude is based on my friend, but my friend does not have sweet dance fight moves like her video game counterpart.

How exactly have you expanded upon the combat in the original game?

Bannon: I tried to make sure players could be as creative as possible with their combos. I found myself making new combos on the fly constantly when testing out the combat. Whatever worked in the first game, I amped it up even more. If something wasn't working to its full potential, I made sure to fix it and make it an integral part of the player’s arsenal.

Can you tell us a bit more about the new online co-op mode?

Bannon: This was quite the challenge since we had to redo the entire engine again to make the game work online. The thing that will really stand out among other online brawlers is the fact that the levels are pretty massive, vertically and horizontally. This was intentional to allow players to split off and not have to share the same camera. Both players can go off in their own corner to fight their own group of enemies instead of everyone bunching up together.

The first game’s composer Megan McDuffee is back, can you tell us a little about her approach to the sequel’s soundtrack and how WayForward played a part in this process?

Bannon: I worked with Megan directly on what kind of music I wanted. I gave her notes and samples but still very much it was all Megan creating this music herself. She's a genius at this stuff and I could definitely rely on her to know how to make catchy music. The main focus with the lyrical songs though was to convey the feelings and motivations of the bosses of that particular area they reside in.

Adam: We were so fortunate to connect with Megan for the music on the series, and so far she’s worked on all three RCG games to date. As incredible as her soundtrack was for the first game, I think players will be surprised just how much more varied and complex this second soundtrack is by comparison.

Who helped out with the cutscenes this time around?

Adam: On the first game, we worked with Eric Huang to storyboard our cinematics and Studio Yotta to animate them. On River City Girls Zero, the intro was done by David Liu and his studio emptycel. With RCG2, our intro was storyboarded by Mariel Cartwright of Future Club, but animated internally this time at WayForward (directed by Kay Yu, who’s also the pixel animation lead on the RCG games). And all of the manga cutscenes in all three games were illustrated by Rem, who’s been our lead illustrator and character designer from the beginning.

Any plans for post-release updates or DLC? Could we perhaps see a third River City Girls game in the future?

Bannon: Way too early to tell. I have ideas but nothing is official as of yet at all. Hopefully players are interested in us expanding this further because I personally would love to.

Adam: We would’ve loved to have produced some DLC for the first game, but at the time it made sense to just roll directly onto the sequel. Hopefully this time, we can add a few more features to the game via DLC, although that all depends on how well the game itself does in terms of early sales first.

Image: WayForward

We would’ve loved to have produced some DLC for the first game, but at the time it made sense to just roll directly onto the sequel. Hopefully this time, we can add a few more features to the game via DLC

The Limited Run Games physical release of River City Girls 2 has completely sold out, any chance of a restock?

Adam: I know Limited Run will sometimes have convention- and event-exclusive versions of their physical releases, and we actually illustrated a brand-new RCG2 cover for that potential version. So hopefully that’s on the horizon. A restock beyond that possibility would be up to LRG, though.

What’s next for WayForward?

Adam: Lots of awesome games in development right now, including several based on established film and game brands, although most of those are still secret at the moment. We’re launching LUNARK, our cinematic pixel platformer developed by Canari Games, in early 2023. Check that one out when it releases on PC and consoles, and be on the lookout in the coming months for some major titles coming from WayForward in 2023 and 2024!

Any final words to the Nintendo Life community about River City Girls 2?

Bannon: Check out the game. There's so much to find in it. It'll keep you and your friends busy for a good while with all the little hidden secrets scattered about. Good luck!

Adam: One of the big draws to working with this brand was the fact that it takes place in a specific city that we could expand and develop further with each new game. I’m so excited with how River City has grown and evolved since the first game, and can’t wait to see player reaction to our latest additions.

Thanks to Bannon and Adam for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Nintendo Life wishes WayForward all the best for the year ahead!

Have you tried out River City Girls 2 on the Switch yet? Excited about what's next for WayForward? Comment below.