Retro City Rampage Review

Developer(s):

Vblank Entertainment Inc.

Publisher(s):

D3 Publisher

Console(s):

Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Microsoft Windows

Release Date(s):

PS3, Vita, Windows: October 9th, 2012,

XBLA, WiiWare, Q4 2012

Player(s):

Single

-Samer Farag

Ruining the 8-Bit Peace

Parodies are all the rage on the Internet. Youtube videos, alternate twitter accounts, and other media have popularized parodies, used to poke fun or emphasize the quality of people’s favorite movies, videogames, and TV Shows. However, the very best parodies also contribute substance to their style. They have something that gives people a reason to come back to the parody. A reason separate from the piece being tackled. Retro City Rampage pulls this off with style to spare. 

Retro City Rampage has a plot. I think. Something about helping a Doc Brown Look-Alike fix his car? And there are some bad guys that want to ruin indies, or something. RCR doesn’t take itself very seriously, and its “plot” isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. The overarching story takes a back seat to the flurry of gags and one-liners shot out by “Player” (that’s you) and the various other characters in the game. Finding each part necessary to repair Doc Brown’s car works as a sort of serialized mini-show. One “episode” may task you to infiltrate Batman’s house, while another may find you breaking in to a school inspired by “Save by the Bell.” This episodic nature is helpful in two ways: It keeps the humor fresh with new sets of characters entering and leaving frequently, and it makes RCR the perfect bite-sized game. You can play a mission, which is never more than ten minutes, save, leave, and pick up right where you left off later. 

One of Retro City’s greatest strengths is its parody nature. This game is a true love letter to the eighties. I can’t go into details about all the references. The easter egg guide to this game could have its own separate walkthrough in order to find them all. In the first mission alone, RCR gives a nod to Contra, Duck Hunt, Mario, Zelda, Frogger, and more. Granted, the train of references slows down after this initial burst, but there’s still a steady amount of references to be found as one continues to play the game. To this end, Retro City Rampage has a sort of “catch ‘em all” feel reminiscent of Pokemon, where one wishes to find all the gags in the game. If you can pull that off, my hat goes off to you, reader.  

For the most part, Retro City Rampage plays quite well. Its most direct point of reference in terms of gameplay are the old top down GTAs of yesteryear. You can drive around the open world of Theftropolis, stealing cars and generally wrecking havoc on the populous. There is an arcade sub-element where you do your best to try and run over as many citizens as you can to multiply your score and get money for haircuts, weapons, hats, and more (all of which are references in and of themselves). However, RCR adds to this old school style of play by adding some modern elements to make things fresh. You can take cover behind objects with the press of a button, and hold down the fire button to lock-on to targets you’ve engaged in combat. Also, modern developments allow for a TON of sprites and effects to show up on screen at any one time, definitely increasing the fun of running through pedestrians while firing rocket launchers in the tank you’re driving. Police that chase you around are more a nuisance then a threat, and the game does a great job of making the Player feel powerful all throughout your playtime. Missions are divided into Main Missions, Side Quests, and Rampage-like stages where you have an infinite amount of ammo for a particular weapon that you use to go crazy to earn medals and high-scores in. There’s also a free-roaming mode where you can play as other characters (including a few secret ones that I won’t let on about here!).

I’d like to say that playing RCR is all fun all the time, but I unfortunately cannot. Every once and a while, missions can completely 

spike

 in difficulty. I threatened to smash my keyboard more than a few times while playing, I will admit. But the difficulty is entirely fair: If you didn’t jump away from that rocket launcher in time, it’s on you. Thankfully, you usually have access to a few missions at any one time, letting you move on to a different one if you’re having trouble. 

I’m not always a fan of the pixelated style of graphics, but in the case of Retro City Rampage, it fits perfectly. The sprites emulate the bygone days of NES games, and aren’t too blocky or ugly to look at. There’s also an attention to detail in every pixel that one can’t help but admire. This attention to detail goes right down to the ability to use different filters on the graphics, as well as choose a “TV” or arcade cabinet to border around the screen. As for the soundtrack, composed by 

Leonard “FreakyDNA” Paul, 

Jake “Virt” Kaufman,

 and Matt “Norrin Radd” Creamer, add a sweet chiptune soundtrack that is a great 

accompaniment to the overall style of the game, even though some tracks can get a bit repetitive at times.

Retro City Rampage is a parody, but it’s also its own game. It has its own substance to buoy its borrowed style, making for a fun romp through the virtual open-world of Theftropolis. While it isn’t the most in-depth of games, it is certainly a great time to be had, and I definitely encourage our readers to try it out if they get the chance. 

The Pros: 

  • 8-bit Openworld
  • Awesome References
  • Sweet Soundtrack
  • Bite-Sized

The Cons: 

  • Difficulty Spikes
  • Plot takes a back seat

Final Verdict: 8/10