Retro City Rampage is an 8-bit open-world action adventure game by Brian Provinciano; which has been in development since 2007, yet amazingly has been in the concept stages from as early as 2002. For eleven years now Retro City Rampage has existed, evolving and adapting overtime from its original intentions of being a fan-made adaption for Grand Thief Auto three, to a fully-developed game of its own.
So let’s look over the various elements in the game beginning with the story… Well, what little story there actually is considering that Retro City Rampage handles itself like an episode of Family Guy. Basically the plot premise is that you are an average low-tier thug by the name of “Player” who partakes in a bank job gone wrong and to escape from the cops, manages to… apprehend a time machine. It is from here that what plot this game has suddenly takes a break and you are left with a barrage of pop-culture and video-game parodies and gags at every possible moment.
From character spoofs to using popularised mistranslated text, Retro City Rampage has a complete collection of puns and jokes for the audience to enjoy. The problem here is that a select age audience is needed to appreciate every single one, meaning while many will be able to easily identify examples such as being attacked by ninja turtles or using warp pipes to escape from the police, I doubt there enough players to appreciate more subtle gags. I could imagine that playing Retro City Rampage with a large group of friends would be the best way to spot every pun possible, considering how broad the selection of parodies are in this game.
The missions, when not being smothered in puns provide players a variety of challenges and tasks. From being requested to deliver adult magazines door to door to stealing a TV and fleeing to safety, Retro City Rampage will have you engage in every potential crime and odd-job possible. Whilst some are tedious to deal with, the in-game checkpoint system is helpful and will very rarely force you to travel long distances to restart a mission or correct a mistake made.
Gameplay wise, Retro City Rampage makes it very evident that it was originally intended to be a fan-made port, keeping the original camera angle from the Grand Theft Auto series and using it to its advantage. As for the controls, they will take getting used to, but the game will provide various tutorials as you progress.
Aside from the Story mode itself, players can engage in two alternative game modes. To begin with you have Free-roam, which removes all the missions and in return, allows you to travel around the city and create as much chaos as possible as you like if it be with the games protagonist or special characters unlocked during the course of the main game. These characters are from iconic indie games featuring the likes of Super Meat Boy, Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series and Steve from Minecraft. The final game mode is Arcade Challenge, which provides players various complex challenges in order to compete for high scores on the leader boards. These games are heavily inspired by Rampages in the early Grand Theft Auto titles, better off known as Kill Frenzies.
As for the graphics, Retro City Rampage stays true to its name and uses an 8-bit pallet heavily influenced by the NES games, with the only modern adaption being the ability to remove the frames and play in widescreen. You are also able to change the frames used for the arcade cabinet used to box the game, these frames adding various alternative effects to give the game an intensified retro mood. Retro City Rampage also comes packed with a complete 8-bit soundtrack with a variety of tracks on offer; unfortunately none of them are really noteworthy or catchy and are there to really build on the experience being created.
Retro City Rampage knows how to capture the essence of an early retro game, yet is unable to build upon its hype. It forever depends upon its gags, many of which will go over younger player’s heads and uses them to hide how repetitive things can get in this game. If you are a fan of game related gags and the occasional trips of nostalgia, then that alone might just be enough to convince you to get this game.
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