For a few years I’ve been hearing about this game called Retro City Rampage. When I read about the game and took a look at the screenshots the first thought that popped into my head was “So this is what the Grand Theft Auto games would look like if they were on the NES.” Being the Grand Theft Auto fan that I am, I was rather intrigued with what Retro City Rampage had to offer. I couldn’t wait to play this game. It took a few years and a lot of patience, but it has finally arrived on Xbox Live Arcade. After about an hour of amusing gameplay I came to the conclusion that Retro City Rampage may have some elements of a Grand Theft Auto game, but GTA it is not! It’s actually much better than that.

PROS:

Grand Theft Auto Elements
While Retro City Rampage is not a complete GTA clone it does however have some elements of a typical GTA game. Jacking vehicles, the law meter, and the fun ability of causing absolute mayhem. The world of Theftropolis basically looks like what the early Grand Theft Auto games looked and played like before going the three dimensional route GTA 3. The top down perspective is a nostalgic blast from the past plus a lot of fun to explore. I took my character (simply named “Player”) and traveled the city streets scouting out locations and enjoying the old school 8-bit scenery as well as rampaging through the streets in my car running over helpless pedestrians.

Tons Of Video Game and Pop Culture References
Retro City Rampage is a hodgepodge of various video game and pop culture references mixed into one exciting game. While exploring the city of Theftropolis I came across some great references including Back To The Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Legend of Zelda, Saved By The Bell, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Meat Boy, Pitfall, and so much more. These references I mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg of what Retro City Rampage has to offer. One moment found myself donning a sword and shield like Link and walked through the streets bashing random civilians and trimming down bushes.

Over The Top Humor
The laughs are by the dozens, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the all the mayhem I was causing here in Theftropolis. Keep in the mind that the game is in fact one big comedic parody. While I was getting chased by the cops I passed by a sewer, and all of a sudden the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jumped out and chased me. I then pulled out my pistol and took them out, while on the run, netting me an achievement and five Gamerscore in the process. Priceless. Jumping on the heads of civilians while killing them and scoring points ala Super Mario Bros. Very funny. I even found a “Hot Coffee” (a reference to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) shop during my travels which drew a chuckle out of me. While causing mayhem I couldn’t help but laugh at all the over the top references and humorous things I could do, and the best part is that the game’s unique humor will never get old.

CONS:

Difficulty Spikes
Anyone remember that pain in the ass level on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES with the electrical seaweed. Well it’s back once again. When I saw the level I said “Oh shit. Not again!” Well that’s only one of quite a few difficulty spikes that take place during the main campaign. At times I felt that some of the missions I participated in were rather easy or just right, but every so often I have to do a mission where I’ll end up dying a lot. I think that maybe a better idea would’ve been to ramp things up slowly in the difficulty curve instead of shocking players at points.

No Checkpoints During Longer Missions
Some of the missions in Retro City Rampage can be quite long having multiple parts to complete. Well what do you think happens if you unfortunately die during that mission? Well…you start over. Ok, most retro games had this which at times was very frustrating so it should be no surprise to me that it would be in this game. Maybe I’ve become too accustomed to checkpoints in the more modern games. Well, it’s time for me to start memorizing once again so that I don’t accrue a ton of deaths.

IN CONCLUSION

For all the years I’ve had to wait, Retro City Rampage was worth it and then some. It feels nostalgic, and it has some moments of Grand Theft Auto, but it’s so much more. It’s a parody with tons of references along with some of the punishments that some retro games had. Even the options screen has some retro options in on screen presentation. The most important aspect is that Retro City Rampage is a fun and entertaining game with tons of missions and challenges that will keep the average player busy for hours. I will suggest downloading the demo first before making the purchase, because if you don’t understand the references then your going to have trouble enjoying the game.

Developer: VBlank Entertainment
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)

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