People come in a a variety of sizes, shapes, attitudes, colors, and smells, but despite our differences there are a few basic needs and desires that we all have in common with each other. Me, being a cold, hardened, and vicious Chicagoan, have an innate desire to commit massive crimes, run people over with assorted vehicles, and shoot things with a wide array of weapons. Until recently I had to keep these urges locked up deep down inside of me, hoping against all hope that the time would come when I would have an appropriate outlet for my violent and criminal tendencies. Not only does the newly released Retro City Rampage allow me to cover all of these bases, but it is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is something anyone can appreciate these days.
At its core, Retro City Rampage is an open-world sandbox game. This simply means you could probably spend a fair amount of time just engaging in sidequests and other optional aspects of the game without ever really touching the main quest. It also means things don’t necessarily need to be performed in a specific order, so you can play the game in a structure that best suits you.
While exploring the game world of Theftopolis, you will assume the role of the main character named PLAYER. Almost all tasks in this game will revolve around some sort of crime. Whether it’s burglary, assault, or grand theft auto – you name it and it has probably found its way into the game.
If you’re going to commit crimes, you obviously need weapons, which are definitely not in short supply in Theftopolis. Each weapon is uniquely designed so you will need to learn the best weapon for each situation in order to succeed. Most people’s first instinct is probably to “run and gun” through missions in this game, but that would be a mistake. If you want to keep PLAYER alive, you will need to make a plan before heading into a room guns blazing. Thankfully, there is a simple but ingenious targeting system in place to ensure you will be able to make every bullet, rocket, or squirt from your flame thrower count.
If you ever tire of the main game’s action, simply hop over to Nolan’s Arcade and play some of the mini-games. Some familiar indie game faces will make an appearance, such as CommanderVideo in “Bit.Trip: Retro City”, and Super Meat Boy in “Virtual Meat Boy”. When visiting the arcade, it was pleasantly surprising to see how easy it was to spend almost just as much time on the mini-games as the main game.
Let’s start off by getting the obvious out of the way; Retro City Rampage is a current generation game designed to look like an 8-bit classic. To drive this old school feeling home, players can select different frames to put around the action, such as a UHF TV frame (if you have to ask what that is, you’re too young to comprehend). If all this is just TOO much of a throwback for you, there is the option to remove the frames. You can also toggle scanlines on or off. Despite all these tricks that were employed to give the game a retro feel, a well polished and fully HD game shines through. It would have been so easy to cut corners and say it’s for the sake of making the game look older, but thankfully that wasn’t the case here.
While you’re ogling the sharp, HD 8bit goodness of Theftopolis you will notice another visual element of the game, and that is quite a few nicely done visual jokes. We won’t dive into all of them here, but make sure to read the signs on businesses as you are blazing through the streets plowing over pedestrians or evading the fuzz. You will be pleasantly surprised and the amount of laughs to be had.
To solidify Retro City Rampage‘s 8-bit feel, a killer chiptune soundtrack has been crafted to bleep and blop along with you as you terrorize the city. If you find there is one of these songs you just can’t get enough of while you’re playing, you can pick an in-game radio station to listen to. However, the game’s soundtrack is so awesome you would do better to leave it on the default setting so you can listen to the music as it was intended.
Video games often get a lot of heat in the media for being too violent, and therefore promoting violent tendencies in their players. However, it’s easy to see from the comical tone of Retro City Rampage that VBlank Entertainment Inc. had nothing but good intentions over the years it took to create this game. Not only is this a finely crafted parody of the 8-bit games we 30somthings cut our teeth on, but it also manages to poke a little fun at modern sandbox style games while throwing in heaps of other humor and nods to pop culture both old and new. We here at RoboAwesome recommend doing whatever you have to do to get your hands on this game, short of looting, plundering, or pillaging.
Pros: This game will not only appeal to gamers who grew up in the 80s, but fans of games like Grand Theft Auto. It is the finest modern example of a parody video game.
Cons: The old school graphics and music are fantastic, but they may alienate younger gamers.
Value: At $10 this game is a steal, considering the amount of play time you are likely to get out of it.
Verdict: Retro City Rampage is definitely a game that needs to be played to be appreciated, but you won’t be sorry for giving it a shot.