Back during the 80’s and 90’s, our lives became consumed by just one or two titles. These days gamers constantly complain about how a game must be a AAA title to be worth $60. But back then, we became so enthralled in such simple games that we memorized every stage, every trick and played them over and over and over. We were only concerned with having fun, not with having top-notch graphics, physics, etc.
Lately, especially in the indie scene, developers have tried to revive that type of gameplay we craved when we were younger. Brian Provinciano has delivered that pure 80’s styled fun with Retro City Rampage. Having seen release in almost every platform (PS3, PS Vita, Windows, Xbox 360 and WiiWare), the game is now making its way to the 3DS as Retro City Rampage: DX.
Developed and Published by Vblank Entertainment
Available on Nintendo 3DS
*Review code provided by Vblank Entertainment
Retro City Rampage might seem like a Grand Theft Auto wannabe but you’d be wrong to let that fool you. While it does play like an 8-bit GTA, everything in the game is built around trying to pay homage to pop culture and decades of gaming. From the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Mega Man, you’ll see a reference to almost every game and movie you saw during the 80’s-90’s. In this game, you’ll assume the role of “Player.” After pulling off a heist, you pop into a time machine to escape the cops and travel through time to encounter a Doc Brown lookalike that enlists you to help him fix said time machine.
This game is full of references to pop culture and gaming. The game starts out with a sequence pulled straight from The Dark Knight, with the bank heist and school buses. As you play the game, you’ll see many references like this, from classic games to some movies. But the game just doesn’t just mimic them, it also infuses them with its own brand of humor. There are a lot of references to the point that the game feels slightly over saturated with them, but it’s so much fun noticing them that it doesn’t matter.
There’s a lot of variety to the missions. Some are very simple and are just there to provide silly fun or show off some references, while others will require a bit more strategy than just moving forward and mowing down everyone that stands in your way. The whole game is built around having fun and not caring too much about the rules. Like in GTA, mow down too many pedestrians and the cops will hunt you down, but unlike GTA, this isn’t a punishment. The cops are easy to lose, so go crazy and don’t worry about how you drive.
The game has an 8-bit visual style all its own. It looks like a NES game, but it has a unique style that is very vibrant and full of personality. Every inch of the world feels alive, thanks in great part to the visuals; there’s so much details crammed into every inch it. There are also a bevy of different visual styles to mess around with. Some look like the Virtual Boy, and old CRT, the Gameboy, etc.
Sadly, its over-reliance on references means that many of them will probably go over your head, and since a lot of the game’s humor depends on them, sometimes it tends to fall flat. And it’s not only the visuals and references that hearken back to the 80’s era, but also the difficulty that accompanied those games. While it’s good to have a game with that kind of challenge, it can be frustrating.
Nonetheless, while the game might be punishing in some areas, the 3DS version of the game adds all of the patches and upgrades that other versions of the game have received in the past year. The difficulty has been smoothed over, there are more checkpoints, and weapons have been tweaked. Before, your movement while firing was rather slow and cumbersome, but now it’s less limited. Also, to stop the cops from pursuing you, all you need to do is clear those on the screen and pick up an icon they drop and then you’ll have them off your back. Also, this version is more zoomed-in to fit better on the 3DS’s smaller screen.
Retro City Rampage: DX improves on an already excellent game, with its many tweaks and zoomed-in view. Sadly, the one feature you’d expect on a 3DS (you know, 3D) isn’t a part of the package. It’s regrettable that this isn’t included in the game, but despite its absence it’s still a great title, and the 3DS version is one of the better ones.