Retro City Rampage
In 1997 DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North) released Grand Theft Auto. When most people think of Grand Theft Auto, they don’t think of top down, 2D chaos, they think of large open worlds and 3D environments. Retro City Rampage takes the idea of 2D, top down chaos and throws it on it’s head. With tons of playabilty, plenty to explore, many weapons and a ton of pop culture and video game references, Retro City Rampage, while similar to the original Grand Theft Auto, is a great game all its own.
Our main character, “Player” is a henchman of “The Jester” who, in a bank robbery gone wrong, gets trapped in a time traveling telephone booth, transporting him to the future where a man driving a Delorean known as “Doc Choc” picks him up, thinking he is a time traveling hero, and asks for help to find parts to repair the time machine, and thwart the plans of the Jester and Dr. Von Buttnik, Doc Choc’s rival who intends to use the time machine to predict the next popular thing, and therefore control the market. The story missions are a solid length long, and chock full of references to 80s and 90s games, as well as popular culture. The game itself is practically one big reference, and if you can catch them, they are enjoyable and worth a chuckle.
Retro City Rampage is a lot of fun. As a top down open world action game, the controls are really pick up and play, moving with one stick, shooting with the other. Throw in a jump, car jack, and weapon swap buttons, and you’re good to go. Retro City is a lot of fun to explore with a lot to do, such as find collectables, get your hair cut, find weapons, go on killing sprees, and tune up your car, among many other things. All over Retro City are references to video games and pop culture, when you see them, they’ll give you a little laugh, although it’s almost certain you won’t catch every one, seeing as there are so many in the game. The attacking controls can be a little quirky as first, but once you understand how they work, the game flows together so smoothly. Most of the game is played in the top down view, although there are portions of the game that are strictly 2D, paying homage to many older games. The difficulty was spot on, I thought, being just as difficult as it needed to be in most situations, although the last couple of missions with the final boss were very difficult and frustrating, truly paying homage to games of the 80s and early 90s. You can choose to replay any mission you’ve already completed, and you can also complete the killing sprees from the menu instead of tracking them down for some quick fun, if you wish. There is also a free roaming mode with infinite cash and a full weapon inventory where you can unlock and play as some familiar faces from some other indie titles.
Presentation and Music
The game looks very 8-bit with bright, popping colors and a pixel-y art style. The crowded streets dense with 2D sprites come alive with all the bright, attractive colors, and carefully, well done pixel art. The 8-bit style really matches the hectic gameplay, but also gives the game a level of familiarity, and is never off-putting. The presentation style really matches the game well. The music in Retro City Rampage is a wonderful selection of catchy chiptunes that always seem to fit in with what’s going on, from the hectic bits, to chilled down cruising music. As a big fan of chiptunes, I must say that these tracks are very well done.
There are 62 story missions, 37 killing sprees with their own twists, 6 characters to unlock in free roaming mode, 103 different styles to purchase and unlock to change what Player looks like, 32 loot bags, 32 phone booths to find, and 8 invisible walls, for a pretty lengthy experience that can last about as long as you want it to. The story mission is 5ish hours long, but most of the fun and length is in roaming around the city doing odd jobs, messing around, and having aimless fun. Lots of replay value on this one.
Why the Vita?
This game plays wonderfully on the Vita. I think it looks even better on the 5” OLED screen than my HDTV at home, and if you’re playing the Vita version as opposed to the console version, you don’t need to worry about seeing the frame around the game. This game is cross-buy and cross-save enabled via cloud, so you can play at home, save it to the cloud, then pick it up on the go. With quick paced missions, and an insanely enjoyable open world city, RCR belongs right in the palm of your hands.
The Bottom Lines
- Fun, fast paced, pick up and play gameplay with a unique, enjoyable experience.
- Bright and inviting pixel art style.
- Excellent chiptune soundtrack.
- Plenty to do, see, find, and unlock.
- Many references.
- The story plays second fiddle to all the references crammed in.
- Initial quirkyness of controls, until you get the hang of it.
- Many references.
Final Score: 8/10
With fast paced, fun gameplay that’s hard to put down, Retro City Rampage with have you coming back for more, again and again. Remember that if you purchase the PS3 version, you’ll get the Vita version for free, and vice versa!