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Feb 3, 2013

Retro City Rampage PC Review

After booting up the game I was initially very impressed with the NES look of the game. Even more so when I went to the settings and found the many different display options available. You can make the game look like any old console or computer you can think of, from the zx spectrum and Commodore 64, to the Gameboy, or even PC CGA display. Unfortunately my enthusiasm was damped somewhat once the game actually started. After the initial nostalgic joy of seeing a new game that harks back to the 8-bit visual style, you suddenly realise everything is absolutely tiny. The sprites are minuscule, smaller than Lemmings, or the Cannon Fodder soldiers.

This seems a strange choice as the NES, C64, Atari et al all had big chunky graphics. When entering buildings things become worse still, with the game display the size of an actual Gameboy screen it is hard to see what is what. Sometimes I had to focus for a second or two just to find where my character was amongst the tiny box and furniture sprites. The music score is cool though. For the sound track Pavinciano brought in 3 renowned Chiptune composers; Leonard "FreakyDNA" Paul, Jake "Vert" Kaufman and Matt "Norrin Radd" Creamer. They have done a bang up job too, with catchy ditties playing throughout your adventures. The track clearly inspired by the music to Paperboy was an early highlight. Parody Fatigue. Not something you may be familiar with now, but after spending an hour or so rushing around the streets of Theftopolis, you will start to feel the effects. Retro City Rampage simply bombards you with references to other materials, movies, games, people, places, that you feel like you are watching 5 or 6 TV channels at the same time.

I found the constant stop-start gameplay style quite off-putting. Stages seem to be split into small sections, with constant cut scenes and yet more references. The problem is the references aren't funny. One bad guy clearly copied from Sonic the Hedgehog's long-standing nemesis is called Doctor Von Buttnik. This is the kind of unfunny humour that prevails throughout the game, and it becomes tiresome fast. In fact almost every single building, object, character or stage has a reference, sometimes more than one, to another game or a movie. It becomes too much after a while. There are no fresh ideas on display here anywhere, and while there are moments of creativity in the way you tackle a level, everything here feels like a poor man's version of the material that inspired it. The whole game looks, sounds, and plays like a slightly polished free browser game. Like one of those awful Epic / Scary movie parody flicks the whole thing is a collection of skits thrown together to make a whole. Unfortunately it just gets boring quite quickly, and when the gags aren't even funny, it becomes tiresome to play.

I was really looking forward to Retro City Rampage, it was genuinely one of the top 3 games of 2012 that I was looking forward to. Unfortunately it has been a massive disappointment. I figured I was the target audience for this game, after all I love 8-bit gaming, collect and play NES games, enjoy humour in games, and I get every reference in the game due to being an 80's kid. Yet the whole package left me deeply unsatisfied. The game tries too hard to cram as many jokes in in a short a time as possible, but it backfires and shows the game up for what it essentially is, a mildly amusing browser game to spend 20 minutes on, then find something deeper, and better to play. You are much better off getting your NES fix from the excellent, and free, PC game Abobo's Big Adventure, which will give you an hours worth of fun, and is far more humorous, and true to it's reference material than RCR.
Verdict: 40/100

Genre Action
Style Overhead View Action
Release Date October 9, 2012
Developer Vblank Entertainment Inc.
Publisher D3Publisher of America
Flags Downloadable Release


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