Retro City Rampage
Retro City Rampage
Developer: Vblank Entertainment
Publisher: Vblank Entertainment, D3 Publishing
Platforms: XBLA (reviewed), PSN, PS Vita, PC, WiiWare
Ten years in development. Months of refinement. Its finally here, and I almost can’t believe it. Retro City Rampage is finally available for Xbox LIVE Arcade and I have my controller in my hands. Time almost stands still. After pinching myself, I realise that I am indeed awake, and that finally, after years of waiting, I have the chance to travel back in time to an era of bleeps and bloops, of sprites and pixels, and of points and high scores: the very things that made my gaming childhood. My hopes couldn’t be set any higher for Retro City Rampage. I had my fingers crossed hoping that the game would live up to its potential and thankfully, after hours of time with the game, I can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. That is, if I could stop playing it.
Retro City Rampage was initially being developed as a homebrew port of Grand Theft Auto III. Lead designer Brian Provinciano created a NES development kit for the port, and revealed the project in 2011 at a game developers conference. Eventually shifting development to the PC, Brian began to insert his favourite video games characters from games other than GTA III into the port, which inspired him to create an entirely new game which would incorporate aspects from all of his favourite games. The result is an endearing and entertaining homage to not only retro games, but to modern games as well.
Players take control of ‘The Player’ a henchman for hire who joins an organized crime syndicate led by the Jester. The games introduction and tutorial is a heist led by the Jester, which of course, does not go according to plan. After being pursued by the cops, the Player gains access to a time machine, damages it, and has to repair it with the help of a scientist. The story is very silly, hyperactive, and a lot of fun.
Controls in Retro City Rampage are easy to get a hang of. The player can move using the D-pad or analogue stick, and when shooting, both lock-on and free aim (with the right analogue stick) are available. Players can steal any vehicle, jump over obstacles (and on top of enemies and civilians) as well as pick up and throw different things. The game takes place in the massive city of Theftopolis, with 50 story missions and over 30 challenge levels to play, with innumerable jokes, cameos and Easter Eggs to keep you blissfully distracted from the main storyline. There is something to be said about a game that is accessible to everyone these days – it’s a rare thing in gaming today, and outside of people who may be offended the adult (albeit extremely satirical and immature) content of the game, absolutely everybody can pick up Retro City Rampage and enjoy themselves.
Taking inspiration from the 8-bit or “NES-era” of games, Retro City Rampage’s graphics are simplistic and pixelated. Though retro in its graphical choice, Retro City Rampage benefits from modern technology, presented in widescreen and looks very crisp. One feature I absolutely love is the graphics filter in options, which allows the player their choice of 16 different graphic filters which emulate the look of past displays such as VGA graphics, handheld consoles and black and white TVs. The game design itself incorporates numerous design techniques from retro games, from a top-down (bird’s eye) perspective.
Theftopolis may be a city, but it is made up of various districts and properties which channel various classic video games (sometimes the game even switches to a different perspective, such as side-scrolling). There are high-rise buildings, streets and industrial areas, as well as grasslands, which contain very Pokémon-esque dirt and grass tracks and pedestrians, as well as pipes and other elements from the Super Mario Bros series of games. There are sewer areas, which are home to familiar ninja turtles and coin-containing bricks. The game’s design is jam-packed with retro designs from classic games, and it truly is a joy to take in.
The sound design in Retro City Rampage matches the graphical and gameplay designs perfectly, being that it is made up entirely of bleeps and bloops from the 8-bit era of games. Composers Leonard J. Paul, Jake Kaufman, and Matthew Creamer have outdone themselves for achieving both sound effects and a soundtrack that complement the obvious inspirations for them, as well as create their own unique tunes which reflect the action and game’s themes. The soundtrack is also available to purchase from the game’s website, which I am giving strong consideration to doing, as I find I get the catchy driving and challenge level tunes stuck in my head, and they would make a great addition to my music library.
- Simple yet addictive gameplay
- Packed full of Easter Eggs and humorous references to classic games and movies
- Brilliant value for money – almost infinite replay value
- Story delivery can be a little weak at times
The wait is over, and 8-bit era veterans (such as myself) and younger audiences today can both find something enjoyable and addictive about Retro City Rampage. Like Dust: An Elysian Tail, Retro City Rampage is a labor of love, made by a passionate single designer with a penchant for open-world games and 8-bit games, and both come together perfectly in Retro City Rampage. Add it to your collection of arcade games today.