E3 2012: Retro City Rampage hands-on (Vita)

Retro City Rampage Screenshot - 1106935

During one of my quick downtime periods at E3, I got the chance to check out some games that I wasn't necessarily assigned to cover for GameZone. When I realized I had an hour to do whatever the hell I wanted, I decided to head over to the Sony booth to check out a game that I've been watching closely for some time now. It's a game that has all of the potential in the world to be the next big indie title, and I can say that I was happy to finally play it: Retro City Rampage.

I was checking out the Vita version of the game, and I noticed that the controls really felt great. Retro City Rampage also looked outstanding on the handheld's large screen. Speaking of looks, the game has an absolutely brilliant graphical style. Retro City Rampage is pretty much a NES game through and through, and it has a wonderfully vibrant, richly pixelated, and stunningly retro aesthetic. The sound design is also great and fits right in with soundtracks of the early NES era.

But Retro City Rampage isn't just all flash and no substance. I spent about 40 minutes playing, and I got just a small dose of everything the game has to offer. Retro City Rampage has a nice top-down camera view that actually appears more isometric due to the objects' placement on the screen. As previously stated, the controls are great. The game's protagonist, who is frequently referred to as "Player," has access to guns and other weapons. He can take cover and engage in heated shootouts with the cops, and he can interact with his environments in a manner of ways.

Driving is an essential part of Retro City Rampage. You can steal vehicles at will and drive like a madman on the streets, running people over and knocking other cars to the side. Everything you do has a purpose. I noticed a combo counter making a note of all the people I was running down. Suffice it to say, it was great to know that hitting pedestrians and cops was actually a meaningful activity and not just something for me to screw around with like in so many other open world crime games.

One of the major selling points in Retro City Rampage is the collection of 1980s references. Sure, there are several nods at older video games (like hills that have their own set of eyes a la Super Mario and a hilarious Frogger plug), but there are also some awesome pop culture references. During my time with Retro City Rampage, the two spoofs that stood out to me the most were Back to the Future and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles, I can only begin to describe the sheer joy I felt when I saw a gang of shelled critters popping out of the sewer with Japanese weaponry in hand.

It should come as no surprise that I had a stupidly goofy smile on my face the entire time I was playing Retro City Rampage on the Vita. This is just that type of game. The absurdity of it will make you smile, the clever and self-aware writing will warrant some hearty laughs, and the old school-spirited gameplay will really hit home for a lot of players. Developer Brian Provinciano is ironing out the bugs and making some final fixes to Retro City Rampage, but you can expect it to drop on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC, and WiiWare soon.

It should be noted that the PlayStation Network version supports cross-play and cross-save functionality between the PlayStation 3 and Vita. So you can start a game session at home and then take Retro City Rampage with you to a boring event, like a wedding or marriage counselor meeting (both of which can actually be connected to one another). Well, I know which version I'm getting!

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Games: Retro City Rampage

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