I downloaded Retro City Rampage a couple of months ago when it was advertised as free on Playstation Plus. I am happy to say it is the first game I’ve downloaded for free that I’ve actually beaten! I dabbled in Street Fighter Arcade and Gravity Rush, but neither of these games entertained me as much as this new 8-bit gem.
In case you haven’t heard much about this downloadable title, it is exactly as its name implies: a hilarious throwback to the NES-era chock full of parodies, city exploration, and mayhem. The main character is Player (Hardy har) who is one of many criminals in Theftropolis. Unlike your other run of the mill thieves, Player has the pleasure of accidentally traveling back in time and assisting Doc Choc in fixing the time travel mobile and destroying a corrupt video game company’s figurehead, Buttnick. That one sentence summary houses two great parody characters, actually. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of the clever and not so clever 80’s and 90’s nods contained in the 4-5 hours of story mode this game has to offer. Let’s just say if you were born in or before the 80’s and didn’t live in a cave, most of the jokes in this game will not go over your head. I did have to ask my older husband about a few of the references I didn’t understand, and even then I still found myself laughing at the vulgar or silly dialogue.
The main reason I love this game is because it is a great combination of the best of old school and current games. In terms of retro it has great parodies, nostalgic 8-bit graphics and music, difficulty (though not unbeatable by any means), and SIMPLE controls. I was able to put this game down at the end of a Sunday, pick it back up on Saturday, and not spend half an hour trying to remember what button does what: a consequence of my lifestyle that peeves me with current games having their billions of buttons and commands. Retro City Rampage also incorporates the new technology we’ve all come to rely on: auto-saving, auto-loading, a cross-save feature so it can be transferred to a Vita and played on-the-go, trophies, online leaderboards, fun unlockables, and an easy menu to navigate in case you want to replay missions and stages.
There isn’t much to divulge about the story aside from my simple summary. The “plot” is barely there. And that’s okay. Because you won’t care at all about the story. You’ll be too busy laughing or shaking your head as memories from your favorite childhood movies and video games assault your television screen between bouts of driving over civilians or fighting hordes of thugs. I’m only semi-embarrassed to admit I spent 5-10 minutes every time I loaded the game and between missions mowing down innocent civilians in whatever random vehicle I hijacked. The game even rewards you for it with cash and trophies! I’m not going to pretend I’m above gratuitous violence, because I’m not. I spend far too much time when I’m awake reserving myself. It’s nice to play a video game where I don’t have to be absorbed in making “good” or “bad” choices. RCR understands me in that regard and let’s me turn the entire city into a big free-for-all if I so desire. Player does whatever the hell Player wants most of the time, and is a ridiculous jerk when he’s doing it!
Pretty much the only real “complaints” about this game I’ve read are that it is difficult for the sake of being difficult, nonsensical, and doesn’t share any great moments with the games it parodies. As per the Common Sense Warning screen that loads every time the game does… DUH! It is a parody. It isn’t meant to take itself seriously. Therefore you are taking it too seriously! In fact the only time I rolled my eyes in annoyance was when the writers and developers threw in some social commentary and tried getting the player to care about their opinion. I even agree with their opinion, to be fair, but in media like this I find they falter when they take themselves too seriously, even for a brief moment. The game does have some hard parts, but thanks to decent checkpoints and knowing ahead of time going into an 8-bit game that I might come across some roadblocks, I was prepared. Not to mention the difficult of certain Megaman titles remain fresh in my mind, and nothing in RCR–I mean NOTHING– can even compare. I will agree this game is shallow in that it has no great stand-out moments of its own. Almost everything great about it is derived from nostalgia. There are, however, some great quotes I don’t think I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. One of them being, “How dare you make me bleed my own blood!” Not gonna lie… I chuckled over that one for a while.
This game is available for download on WiiWare, PS3/PSV and XBOX 360 to my knowledge, so there is no excuse to miss out on an Indie grab like Retro. I lucked out and downloaded it for free, but knowing what I know now, I would have gladly paid $5-$10 to experience this gratuitous throwback to a great gaming era. If you’re a product of the 80’s and you owned a NES you need to go download this game. Like, yesterday.