The story to Retro City Rampage is wacky, random, easy to lose track of in the middle of all the mayhem and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Back in the 1980’s and early 90’s games never really concentrated all that much on the storyline, it was purely just about the game itself, apart from the license, gameplay, not visuals or story were the main attraction and Retro City Rampage takes us all down a memory lane as reminder of how the way games use to be and I love it.
That’s not to say that Retro City Rampage doesn’t have a story, because it does, it just that in all the madness you will soon lose track of what exactly is going on, but I’ll give you the basis of the story straight from developer anyway to help set you off.
You are a henchman for a super criminal that gets his big break when finding a time travelling booth. Upon taking it for a spin, it malfunctions and drops him down where he meets a naive mad scientist who believes that he’s a prophesied hero. The scientist (Doc Choc) offers to help repair the time machine to send him back on his journey, but you must run missions around the city to collect the repair parts. Along the way, his past will come back to haunt him, along with an arch rival of Doc’s. Let the random madness begin!
Now I could be really anal and score RCR low in this category as let’s face it, it doesn’t stand a chance set alongside a big budget XBLA title, but to do that would be totally unjust and I’ll explain why. RCR’s visuals are deliberate, it’s a game that goes out to remind us of what games used to look like, it’s a trip down nostalgia lane for us experienced gamers and its somewhat a history lesson to those that missed growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. From the moment you start up Retro City Rampage, its image and purpose is clear, I know all games are about fun, but RCR is all about fun and about playing video games with a big smile on your face and its visuals are arguably its biggest character and asset.
It’s all about the 8-bit gaming era in terms of visuals and audio (but I’ll leave that till later), from the moment you begin playing the game or the main menu as a matter of fact, it instantly reminded me of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). But if you explore into the games options you will be able to choose various filters that will replicate visuals from are reminiscing of a C64, Spectrum 128k, Amstrad, the original Gameboy and even a filter that supports the old Blue and Red 3D stereoscopic and so much more filters to explore, there really is loads of customisable options that will send almost everyone down a welcomed trip to memory lane.
It would be easy to turn your nose up at Retro City Rampage’s visuals, but then you’d be missing the point. If RCR was to have big budget visuals, I doubt it would be half as appealing and would just look wrong any other way, the visuals is arguably the biggest character in the game. It would have been easy for the developer to go for more polished, brass visuals, but instead he made a bold move to base it upon the 8-bit era and for that I salute you sir, because I simply wouldn’t want Retro City Rampage to look any other way.
From the moment you begin to play Retro City Rampage, visuals and audio aside, the first gaming influence that sprang to mind was the good old original Grand Theft Auto’s from the PSOne. If you are familiar with the original GTA games, even though the controls for the vehicles may seem a little odd at first, you will soon become use to them within minutes of playing. The only reason that the vehicle controls seemed a little odd to begin with was simply because naturally I am more use to how games play today. Once I got into the swing of things, I was rampaging my way through the streets, mowing down anything and anyone that got in my way. It became apparent that Retro City Rampage was going to be one of those games that just has you smiling throughout, but it’s not until you play further into the campaign that you realise that there is more the meets the eye, then a what seems to be a GTA clone. The game in principle this game looks like an original GTA game with its 8-bit twist and on the surface it plays like the original GTA games, but it’s not until you venture deeper into Retro City Rampage’s story that you realise there’s alot more than meets the eye (yes I just quoted Transformers).
As I’m sure you already know, RCR is a game that borrows idea’s from classic games from yesteryear and there’s even more than a few throwback movie references in there too, such as when you first meet Doc Choc. If you’re a fan of a certain time travelling movie, then you will instantly know which character he is paying homage too and homage is a very important word with Retro City Rampage. This game is not necessarily about borrowing from other games, it’s a game that pays homage to games and movies from previous eras and this is a huge part of its charm.
Without giving too much away, because a huge part of RCR’s joy is discovering memories from your past, which you thought, were long forgotten. But I’ll give you a quick rundown of some of the surprises that will be in store and the kind of varied gameplay that you can come to expect in the crazy world of RCR. As I mentioned, driving is a big part of Retro City rampage, but surprisingly you will also find stealth elements with a cover system that remind me of the original Metal Gear Solid games on the NES, not only can you punch, shoot and blow up your enemies, you can bounce on them Super Mario style; missions that involve you using a bionic arm that is suspicious like Bionic Commando and missions that involve working on a paper round that is suspiciously like the iconic game, yep you’ve guessed it; Paperboy. The old school games that I have just mentioned are just the tip of the ice berg and I could go on forever about the diverse and in depth Retro City Rampages gameplay is, but these are joys and surprises that I will leave for you to discover on your own and trust me when I say, it will all be worth it.
As Retro City Rampage loads up to the main menu, the 8-bit sound effects will be instantly recognisable to those that grew up with your Commodore’s, Spectrums and NES’s. The split second that I heard that recognisable sound, I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and that smile remains whenever I load up Retro City Rampage. They say certain smells will trigger something in your mind that you thought was once forgotten and the same happens with RCR’s Audio, the flashbacks of my younger self locked up in my bedroom on my Commodore and Spectrum (which was bought for homework purposes…yeah right) come to mind, before the days of the control pad and the Joystick was my weapon of choice.
There are no forms of dialogue in Retro City Rampage, the story is told through text, music and 8-bit visuals. But to be honest, the story will soon not be all that relevant, because you quickly get lost in all the chaotic mayhem. Like the visuals, the audio is also in 8-bit form, from the awesome nostalgic music, the sound of a speeding car, a punch to the face or a rocket launcher being planted where the sun don’t shine. Yes there are XBLA games with much better overall sound effects then Retro City Rampage, but RCR stands out from the crowd and dare’s to be different. What is also worth a mention is that RCR boasts an impressive in-game thirteen radio stations, which in total gives us an in-game soundtrack worth more than two and a half hours, not bad for an 8-bit soundtrack.
It’s all authentic to the 8-bit era, like everything else in Retro City Rampage it’s all about the fun, something not to be taken seriously and something that makes you smile like a Chimpanzee with a Banana coupon to the local supermarket.
For an XBLA game its actually very surprising to just how much replay value you get from Retro City Rampage, especially when you consider that the game only takes up a mere 44MB of hard drive space. In total RCR features more than sixty campaign missions, mini games, more than forty arcade missions; an expansive open world that is free to explore full with over fifty vehicles, from cars, motorbikes, bicycles, skateboards and more. You can also visit a ton of shops with a variety of upgrades, weapons, haircuts and even some work on the side as a cab driver to a burglar, the world really is your ouster and to top it all off there is also loads of hidden items for you to discover as you aim towards that precious 100% completion for you perfectionists out there. Also for you fans of Super Meat Boy and Minecraft, you will be very happy to know that there are one or two surprises in store for you too.
Retro City Rampage holds out its hand and encourages you to come back for more once all the campaign missions have been finished, in fairness I will struggle to think of too many XBLA games that actually have as much replay value and bang for your buck as Retro City Rampage does.
During a age where so many of us might be obsessed with achievements, leaderboard rankings and Kill Ratio’s, Retro City Rampage takes us way back to when video games where not about who had the best statistics, visuals, license or brass storyline, it was during an era that gamers only really cared about the gameplay and the fun of playing. Yes I know, Retro City Rampage does feature achievements, leaderboards and game progress statistics, but during the hours in which I was playing this game, none of those features even came to mind. I was having too much fun participating in its random world, wrecking havoc upon the streets and campaign missions that are influenced by games that I thought were long forgotten, such as Paperboy, Pitfall, the original Bionic Commando and so much more.
Retro City Rampage isn’t just a game for those of us that want to take a trip down memory lane, it’s a game for every generation, it’s a nostalgia and history trip all wrapped up into one amazingly fun ball. Gamers from generations gone by will almost certainly feel straight at home with Retro City Rampage, but if you did miss the era of the 8-bit, go into this game with an open mind. It may not be a game that you may not sit playing for huge gaming marathons, like me it’s a game that I will play for 30-40mins at a time in between things. But during that time, you will witness one of the most enjoyable pick up and play XBLA games in recent times. There may be several gaming references within Retro City Rampage that you thought were long forgotten, but I believe Retro City Rampage will be a game that will be kept close to many gamers hearts for a long time to come and will go down as one of the most loved XBLA games.
You can download Retro City Rampage for 800MSP by clicking HERE!