Retro City Rampage finally emerges in Europe and promptly commences thieving and stealing whilst all the time travelling from A to B…
Retro City Rampage is exactly how you would imagine Grand Theft Auto on the NES. Visually that is, as while GTA is a serious cops and robbers game with an injection of humour, Retro City Rampage is a pure send-up parody, setting humour as a priority against a cops and robbers backdrop.
As can be seen from the screenshots, Retro City Rampage boasts a wonderful 8-bit appearance. The entire game carries on this theme, with cut-scenes done in that 90’s, zoomed in, minimal animation fashion and a good eighth of the screen being taken up with a high-score, weapon select and other screen clutter. There’s even a Super Mario Bros 3 P-meter, just to add to the look of the game. With the game’s retro appearance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it wouldn’t be very technically accomplished but Vblank clearly have a lot of talent and have included a number of visual modes, all at no cost to the game performance.
Firstly, we have a number of visual filters named after the console that they mimic, albeit with a slight alteration to the name in true retro style. There’s obvious filters in there that simply make the screen a bit lighter or darker, but for us handheld fans there’s a number of handheld’s of yore filters, including a green hued Game Boy imitation, plus a red and black Virtual Boy experience (though without the 3D effect).
Secondly, the playing area and dimensions are designed for a much larger screen than the Vita has to offer but the compromise has been handled magnificently. Whilst most ports would simply cut off some of the screen or minimise everything to microscopic levels, Vblank have zoomed the screen out to a factor of two, but given you the option of zooming out to 3x whenever it takes your fancy. This may not sound like the greatest developer achievement in the world, but it’s amazing how flexible the game becomes when you need to see more of the game world. When you’re being chased by the police or doing one of the race missions, being able to zoom out to 3x is very useful; allowing you to zoom back in when you’re casually playing the game on the fly is very impressive. Whilst more advantageous to be at maximum zoom-out all the time, you do miss out on the charm of the little pixel world and so I recommend staying at 2x zoom throughout most of the experience.
Retro City Rampage continues the parody with the game cast: a collection of 80’s and 90’s movie stars and game characters. Of course, as with any true parody the names are usually variations on the source, but it’s very easy to tell who’s being poked fun at. The interaction and character dialogue is frequently laugh out loud funny and captivating, often spurring you to play on just to read more dialogue and further the plot.
The look and feel of Retro City Rampage plays a significant part in the game’s charm, frequently capturing your interest and even surpassing the gameplay mechanics on occasion.
At Retro City Rampage’s heart is old skool Grand Theft Auto and it’s the audience that can remember old skool Grand Theft Auto that the game will most appeal most to. The missions range from fetch and collect to kill everything scenarios, but it’s the way in which the missions are dressed up that creates an enjoyable playing experience. A certain mission has you killing all enemies with a sword, which is mundane enough. Now when you factor in that you’re spoofing The Legend of Zelda from the NES, complete with poor English translation whilst all the time LARPing; you easily become won over by the charm and intelligence: it’s obvious that the creators made the title as a labour of love.
You can complete the main quest of Retro City Rampage in six to eight hours at a fairly casual pace. Considering that the game is a PSN title and costs significantly less than a physical shop sold game, you’re getting a brilliant cost to play ratio. The game world isn’t massive, but the city is full of things to do, including mini-games and side missions in the form of Rampages. Rampages are all about killing as many people in a certain way, as quickly as possible, for example killing people with a sub-machine gun or scything them down as Death. The Rampages support leaderboards which add to the game’s longevity as you play your favourite Rampages again and again to climb the ladder, the only reward being self satisfaction. An excellent addition is the Arcade Mission mode, which simply lets you choose your favourite Rampages to play until your heart is content, rather than drive around the city to hunt them down.
If I had any criticism of Retro City Rampage, it would be that the game has to end. Whilst playing similarly to GTA for most of the adventure, there are platforming sections, swimming sections straight out of Turtles on the NES and other sections that you’ll have to find for yourself, but suffice to say they all add up to a wonderfully complete package.
I could quite easily gush over Retro City Rampage for another 900 words, but rather than do that I simply recommend that you go out and play this great gaming homage.