Up Up Down Down: Retro City Rampage
It's been a nostalgic couple of weeks here at GameZone. Last week on Up Up Down Down, we revisited the childhoods of countless game players and jumped into the money vault with DuckTales: Remastered. This week, we're taking a look at a game that wasn't exactly on the NES, but you wouldn't know that from looking at it. Retro City Rampage from developer Vblank Entertainment is a trip back in time — no, it wasn't released in the '80s, but it carries a lot of the spirit of the NES era.
I've delved into the game's rich, pixelated world on multiple occasions, and every time I do, it's like I'm sitting in front of my old CRT TV, happily escaping into a deranged world of delicious madness, retro references, and comedic hit-and-runs.
Up Up: It's like you're playing a NES game
If you could travel back in time (granted you get that Flax Combobulator working), put Retro City Rampage on a NES cart, and put it in a bunch of kids' NES systems, they wouldn't know the difference. Seriously, there's just so much of that ridiculous '80s spirit and flair gushing out of this game that it's impossible to deny the fact that it feels like a product of a bygone era. That's pretty awesome right there.
Down Down: NES games could get frustrating, remember?
While I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Retro City Rampage, a few players are certain to get frustrated with it in parts. Hell, I even got a tad frustrated a few times. I relished that frustration, though, because it reminded me of playing games as a kid. That's not the case with everyone, though, and it's not hard to find forum posts with players pointing out the game's high challenge, especially toward the end.
Up Up: Nonstop pixelated mayhem
The first few hours I spent playing Retro City Rampage left me completely and utterly amazed. I was impressed by all of the wild nonsense, crazy explosions, easy access to guns, and open world map. There's a lot to do, and you could easily spend hours just running over fools on the sidewalk with a stolen car and getting into firearm battles with the authorities before you even dedicate time to the game's missions. To be perfectly honest, it sort of reminded me of a top-down pixel-soaked Saints Row, which I'm sort of in love with.
Down Down: If you're not a fan of old school graphics, you probably won't “get” it
Sadly, I know people who would never touch Retro City Rampage on account of its purposefully antiquated look. Creator Brian Provinciano wanted to make a game that looks like something you'd see on the NES (or the Genesis, or Commodore 64, or Virtual Boy, if you're inclined to mess with the options menu), and that's exactly what this lovely throwback is. Unfortunately, that means that some folks, primarily the close-minded crowd that needs everything to look super HD and realistic, likely won't "get" what this labor of love's all about. For shame!
Up Up: References galore
I chuckled at some of the references in Retro City Rampage, heartily laughed at others, and genuinely fell in love with a few. Seeing parodies of Ninja Turtles, Zelda, Saved by the Bell, Duke Nukem, and Metal Gear being focal points of the game made for a raucous experience. Sometimes you'll come across multiple references in just a number of seconds, and it's impossible to refrain from smiling when something you totally dug as a kid — whether it's a game, TV show, movie, or celebrity — is referenced in the game.
Down Down: Sometimes seems a bit too referential just for the sake of it
As awesome as most of the references in Retro City Rampage are (and they're awesome a lot of the time), there are a few times when the game is just a bit too referential for its own good. This is mostly true when the game repeats certain references (the constant use of Engrish, for example), which can get a bit tired after you've been playing for several hours. That's not to say it's not funny most of the time, but after a while, the same kinds of references stop being as special as they were when you first started playing.
Left Right Left Right: Retro City Rampage brings back NES nostalgia
Like I said in my review of the game nearly two years ago, Retro City Rampage is an awesome NES game. The high-speed shenanigans, street hooligan antics, and unapologetic references make for a ride that's filled with '80s attitude. The game is a hilarious trip that sometimes reminds me of Grand Theft Auto, but more often than not, feels like its own thing. Yes, a game that relies heavily on poking fun at things we've seen before, feels fresh and unique. Most importantly, it's a complete blast to play. Well done, Mr. Provinciano! Well done indeed!
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.