Retro City Rampage Review
How far can the past take you?
We’ve been following Retro City Rampage for a while, and it has been in development for even longer (nearly a decade) and finally last week it was released on the PC, PS3 and PS Vita, with an upcoming release on the Xbox Live Arcade. It’s a game built on love for the 8-Bit games that we grew up with in the 80′s and early 90′s, and it doesn’t shy away from making fun or paying tribute to anything and everything from video games to movies and TV from the last 30 years. The question is whether or not the classic gameplay and all of the references to the past will be enough to keep you playing.
The year is 1985, and you’re put in the shoes of “Player”, who’s living in Theftropolis City and looking for work, until he comes across a Help Wanted ad and signs up for a job working for The Jester, one of the most powerful super criminals in the city. During a bank robbery, things go south and after being chased by the cops you take cover in a telephone booth only to find out that it’s a time machine and you’re transported to a future Theftropolis. It’s there that you meet Doc Choc, with his time travelling car and he agrees to help you get back to your time. As you can see, right off the bat the parodies are in the full force, and they don’t stop any time soon.
Anyone who’s played the early Grant Theft Auto’s will be right at home with Retro City Rampage as it plays very similar in a top down view with a static camera as you explore the open world of Theftropolis. You can steal vehicles, buy weapons, do side missions, play mini-games and find collectibles. Pretty much everything you would expect to find in an Open-World Action game is in Retro City Rampage, including the repetitive fetch and go-here-kill-them type missions. That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun, but you just shouldn’t expect it to break any new ground in the genre. Fortunately, Retro City Rampage features plenty of weapons to tear up the streets of Theftropolis with, such as a Shotgun, Uzi, Flame Thrower, Grenades and Dynamite and even a Rocket Launcher. If you’re playing with a controller you can either lock on and shoot by pressing and holding X or you can play it like a stick shooter and use the left to move and the right to shoot, which is a nice feature to include.
The best part about Retro City Rampage though is that it pays tribute to what seems like 1000′s of games, movies, TV shows and anything else that has been popular over the last 30 years with references to Back to the Future, The Dark Knight, Saved by the Ball, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Contra, Epic Meal Time, Super Meat Boy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, E.T, Starbucks and Vanilla Ice, just to name a few. These references could be in the form of a character in a story mission or they could be more subtle like the name of a business around the city, but there are plenty to find and they will bring a smile to your face each time you find one.
The problem with the game being built on these references is that the replay value goes out the window, as the joy of finding them is gone the second time around and all you are left with is roaming around the city looking for collectibles. Retro City Rampage isn’t a short game though with over 60 story missions, 30 arcade challenges and plenty of hidden mini-games to find as well. I’m not going to spoil it, but I will say that you should make sure to have a pair of old school and Red and Blue 3D glasses as one of the best mini-games comes in 3D.
For the most part, Retro City Rampage works great, and the retro visuals will bring you back to a simpler time when a game wasn’t judged on how good it looks. There are a few mistakes in some of the speech bubbles and some missions don’t have the best checkpoints which can get frustrating, but overall I didn’t experience any technical issues with the game. If you dig the retro graphics and gameplay, you will find enough to do in Retro City Rampage to keep you busy for a while.
There are no multiplayer or cooperative modes in Retro City Rampage.
Anyone who grew up with 8-Bit games in the 80′s will love the classic gameplay and pop-culture fanatics will love all of the references in the Retro City Rampage. While both of those things are great, they may not be enough to win everyone over. If you didn’t grow up in the 80′s or early 90′s, or don’t care about pop-culture then most of the references may be lost on you and that’s a big part of what makes the game so great. In my opinion, $15 is a fair price to take the trip down memory lane, but I can definitely understand why some people might not enjoy the ride.