With more references to the yester-year than your Grandad’s war-time cabinet, Retro City Rampage is a great little play on the original Grand Theft Auto-style of top down open world carnage. It even follows a similar trend of Grand Theft Auto’s mission-based storytelling: go somewhere, kill someone etc. But it’s in the details where this game really shines.
In Retro City Rampage you won’t just be going to somewhere to kill someone simply by shooting them in the face – you may have to jump on their heads Super Mario style, or flip a switch, you may even just have to beat the living potatoes out of him.
It also references just about every video game ever made and is filled to the brim with pop culture references. Want to go through the game with a Master Chief helmet on with a chef’s hat on top? Or how about a Mario Bros. plumber hat? Go for it! Maybe you’re not a fan of hats – don’t worry it’s not a crime – instead you can sport a fancy barnet throughout your journey. Go for it, because the option is certainly there for you. By the time you’ve hit the halfway point, you’ll have helped the Ghostbusters, broken into Adam West-era Batman’s hideout, locked him out of his own mansion, and jumped on enough people’s heads to put Mario to shame. Of course, they all have suitably humorous names instead of their actual names, probably to avoid legal complications, but you’ll be able to notice them straight away.
Retro City Rampage is also a very well thought title where everything has clearly been considered rather carefully instead of haphazardly forming out of nostalgic love. Doctor Emmett Brown from Back To The Future fame (shame on you if you didn’t know that) hands out your missions, and yes, you even get to go back to the future. It’s really quite impressive just how many pop-culture references VBlank Entertainment have managed to squeeze into their downloadable adventure – and all of it without making it feel cluttered or overwhelming. Of course, not everybody will get every reference, some are far more obscure than others – the Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese one being a good example – but you can’t help but have a rather large grin on your face when you do spot one in the wilderness. I dare you to find the Oregon Trail car and not smile.
Gameplay is also suitably difficult with some exceptionally challenging levels on offer that really make you stop and think about how to handle a particular boss or mission. It’s alright though as you have an unlimited supply of lives, but I can’t guarantee your ego won’t be bruised as the life counter ticks over, silently taunting you for every death.
It’s also relatively easy to get back to any point on the map you need to as, while the map is rather huge, it’s laid out in a way that isn’t a confusing mess. You’ll quickly learn where most things are due to the easy to learn grid style system, so if you head in the right general direction you’ll find your way there – think of it like driving around Milton Keynes, but with less roundabouts. There’s also a lot to do within the walls of the city, with a ton of missions to keep you busy while playing with 20 side missions to keep things fresh and interesting.
There’s also two extra modes that sit alongside the Story mode, and thus provide you with even more reason to venture into the world of Retro City Rampage. Free Roaming mode allows you to do exactly what it says: roam freely. You can mosey about with the characters that you’ve unlocked, allowing you to explore, familiarise yourself with weapons and the city itself, or just mop up a few of the achievements you’ve got left to do. Arcade Challenges is the other entertainment option and that gives you a bunch of different scenarios for you to cause mayhem in. Each challenge is timed and each challenge requires you to tear the place apart in a different way. And, in a move that apes classic arcade games and taps into your sense of competitiveness, you’re scored and then placed on a leaderboard.
When you’re delving into comedy-rich action gameplay you’ll need an equally fitting soundtrack and, as it’s name suggests, Retro City Rampage calls upon an utterly delightful chiptune soundtrack that compliments it perfectly. Graphically it’s also a wonder to behold as pristine 16bit sprites provide you with an utterly nostalgic experience, one that’s also meant that VBlank could construct the seamless and spanning world that they have done. It just goes to show that you don’t need a realistic engine to have a good looking game.
Retro City Rampage really is just an absolute joy to play from start to finish, it’s definitely one to look out for and pick up – especially at the price their asking for. There’s a lot of bang for your buck here and a lot of replay value too. It’s all been crafted incredibly well and it’ll really have you smiling from start to finish.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: A distinct visual and audio style really sets this game out from the rest. Looks lovely and sounds even better.
Gameplay – 5/5: Tough, sometimes infuriating but a joy to play from beginning to end. More pop-culture references than you can shake a stick at.
Innovation 4/5: Completely different from anything out currently. A great throwback to the golden days of gaming. Really different, exciting and interesting.
Value – 5/5: Great value for such a great game. A lot to do and really worth it.
Final Score: 4/5