In a generation where just about every game has some kind of serious story with complex characters, Retro City Rampage does a complete 180 and focuses on plain and simple goofy fun. The 8-bit styled game resembles the original Grand Theft Auto at first, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll also find it pays homage to a handful of retro classics and popular modern indie games.
The story mode relays a time travelling narrative with events closely resembling both Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It can be a little bit over the top at times, but it provides an interesting set of goals for players who might not care for the open-world style of gameplay. Most missions boast fetch and deliver mechanics, but often include aspects of other games like the original Metal Gear and Paperboy. These variations are frequent and keep the gameplay fresh.
For individuals who’d rather just explore the city doing side missions and challenges, there’s also free-roam. Here you can spend time driving around the city, or searching for special areas and secret items. The variety of weapons and power-ups throughout the game is both impressive and entertaining. From golf clubs to rocket launchers, the weapons are as satisfying as they are destructive. Special power-ups like a set of boots allow you to sprint at high speeds through the streets, ploughing through people and scooping up huge combo multiplier points. Other than weapons, there are a multitude of unlockable characters, hair styles, and head designs to collect.
From mini-game clones of Bit.Trip Runner to re-created versions of Pole Position with aspects of Meat Boy, there’s plenty to do even after the story is finished. Scattered around the city are also a multitude of challenge modes with different ranks to achieve, as well as online leaderboards. Most objectives involve using a single weapon or power-up similar to the Rampage challenges in Grand Theft Auto, and are often fairly difficult if you want to achieve the gold rank.
As one of the cross-buy promoted titles, purchasing for either PS3 or Vita unlocks the game for both platforms. Each of the releases deliver the exact same gameplay experience with identical controls. There aren't any touch screen, rear touch-pad, or motion controls in this game, but quite frankly, that’s a good thing. A cross-save feature is also included, making it easy to switch between the two different platforms.
The 8-bit visuals are complemented by a huge selection of chiptunes and sound effects. While driving around, your car radio can tune into a number different 'stations' with varying styles. The catchy songs really add to the nostalgic theme and never get old.
Another awesome feature is the TV Simulation mode. This allows you to recreate the visual aspects of many different displays from the past, including arcade cabinets and the original GameBoy. Also, to add to the effect, the colour palettes and text can be changed to further mimic the various throwback presentation styles.
Even if you managed to play the entirety of Retro City Rampage without understanding a single reference, you’ll still find plenty to like about the game. However, if you’ve grown up playing video games and watching cult movies, your enjoyment will be amplified. This is a difficult type of title to pull off, but Vblank Entertainment’s debut is the perfect parody.