Imagine Grand Theft Auto on the 8-bit NES and you’ll have an immediate understanding of Retro City Rampage. As ‘Player’, you are a thug for hire in the crime-ridden city of Theftropolis. You’re immediately hired by a madman named Jester, who by all intent and purposes is a parody of Keith Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight.
The game takes little time thrusting the player into a world of crime as you race to your ‘hideout’ to plot the first crime of the day. Retro City Rampage is a parody of many different games, movies and pop culture references. During the first heist (which resembles the bank robbery scene from The Dark Knight), the game opens with a quick cinema showing the roof of StoogeMac Bank.
A lookout stands at the edge of the building with a pair of binoculars as a familiar looking duck flies into frame. The ‘click’ of a Nintendo Zapper is heard as the duck falls to the streets below. The iconic Duck Hunt dog appears from behind a venting system and laughs.
Retro City Rampage contains countless parodies like the one mentioned. And while the game pokes fun at some of the most memorable games and movies in history like Mario Bros, Mega Man 2, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Back to the Future, at its core is a solid crime city game that borrows some of the best gameplay mechanics from the Grand Theft Auto series.
A combination of 2D platforming and classic GTA, the game’s open sandbox world is ripe for the taking when you’re not robbing banks, executing hits on people, and having high-speed chases from the police. Any vehicle on the streets is fair game (parked or otherwise) and pedestrians can be killed for cash and useful power ups like speed shoes (which help you escape at a moment’s notice).
The police will intervene if they’re close enough to the crime scene. If you’re in the mood for some violence, you can engage the officers in a gunfight. There are countless alleys to take cover in to avoid being killed, but you have to move fast as squad cars and police motorcycles will be quickly called in to capture you. Objects like dumpsters, trashcans, and other debris can be used as shields to protect yourself. By pressing the Z key, you can duck and then stand to return fire. The game’s AI is no slouch and it will learn from your actions and even mistakes.
If you happen to enter an alley that has exits on either end that lead to the streets, the police will surround you and close in. The game includes a large assortment of weapons (twenty-five in all) that range from flame throwers to rocket launchers, so if you’re prepared and have the right equipment, not even the police of Theftropolis will be able to stop you.
While fun to play, Retro City Rampage has its moments where it can be downright frustrating. Hijacking cars plays a pivotal role in escaping the law and reaching mission-based locations. And while the city of Theftropolis has a large assortment of vehicles to steal, most of them drive very slow.
There are a few exceptions (i.e. the occasional sports car), but trying to escape from the police is difficult when they’re traveling faster than you are. The in-game controls are rock-solid and never falter throughout the course of the game. They’re also simple to remember– the Enter key enters a vehicle or uses an item; the Shift key fires your weapons; and the arrow keys move both Player and the vehicles he confiscates.
Retro City Rampage’s 8-bit graphics are a tribute to the golden age of gaming. They perfectly replicate the type of graphics seen on the NES. The scenery is covered in retro gaming references from the nineteen-eighties. Commodore 64 users will instantly recognize the Load “*”,8,1 command painted to the side of a random building. You can spend hours just scanning the scenery for recognizable retro references.
With sixty-two stages to complete, an open sandbox world to explore, and plenty of pedestrians to terrorize, Retro City Rampage is fun regardless of the platform it’s played on. It’s a hypothetical look back at what the crime city genre would have been like on 8-bit hardware. And while it may look archaic, it packs as much entertainment as a game with fully rendered sprites and massive 3D worlds.
• Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / 7
• Processor: 1GHz processor
• Memory: 256 MB RAM
• Graphics: Pixel Shader 2.0 and Vertex Shader 2.0
• Hard Drive: 40 MB HD space
• Additional: Should run on any PC released within the past 5 years. Older graphics cards (such as those in netbooks) may not support bonus graphical filters.
Developer: Vblank Entertainment, Inc.
|Retro City Rampage's graphics do a great job of replicating the 8-bit gaming era.|
|It's like the music and sound effects were taken directly from an NES game.|
|Modern gameplay with a retro twist.|
|Retro City Rampage is not only fun, but challenging.|