Let’s get this out of the way right now, Retro City Rampage is probably the king of parodies. It has forcibly taken the throne from Spaceballs for me. Even though that is my opinion, that just goes to show you that you need to head into this game expecting to not give a $#!@ and just want to have fun. If you buy this game and sit down to expect anything else, you’re going to have a bad time. I don’t want to mention any other websites by name but I truly believe some people are reviewing Retro City Rampage the wrong way.
I also want to commend the creator of this game, Brian Provinciano, for his achievement in not only finishing this project which took him well over 10 years from the start to finally seeing it hit the market. This man is extremely proud of his creation. We were given a PC and Vita review code from Brian and he expressly asked us to not rush this review. He wanted us to experience all we could from Retro City Rampage. You know what that tells me? It tells me that he gave us those codes because he wants us to experience his game. He wants us to play it. He doesn’t give a crap about publicity (although it certainly helps!) or positive reactions. Brian wants you to play his game. A game that has consumed a good portion of his life and for that you have to appreciate the existence of Retro City Rampage.
Now, I took my time with Retro City but I didn’t do it because Brian asked me to. I did it because I appreciated what the game was doing. It played on a few aspects for me:
- My love for nostalgic references
- My love for classic gaming
- My love for chiptunes music
- My love for a ton of unlockables
- My love for a damn good indie title
Those five aspects made me want to play Retro City Rampage. From the start which features a metric ton of parody play and references to the ending I was drowning in how much Brian was able to fit inside Retro City. What I truly found awesome was the fact that I never felt like it was a cheap experience. Something to just hit the nostalgia button and call it a day. Retro City features its own story, plenty of challenges, and most importantly: a focus on just having a good time while playing.
In Retro City, you play as “Player” who is a thug that gets picked up by a time traveler and mistaken for a hero. Player then uses his, questionable, skills to help the time traveler in his quest. It’s a simple story but effective. It does its job in carrying the game forward and allowing us to see more ridiculousness along the way.
The game world isn’t particularly huge but it has enough size and content to keep you interested in what is going on. Plus it allows you to actually memorize certain locations and get yourself around with some ease, something that I thought Sleeping Dogs profited from. The world itself is filled with more references, parodies, and general funny stuff. Retro City hinges itself on its retro references but it does include some original events that maintain the laughter. It is almost impossible to take a cruise through the game map and not laugh at something.
A huge part of that is because you can almost do anything you want to. You can take any weapon or vehicle and kill or destroy many objects and NPCs. My favorite is getting to my location quicker by taking the sidewalks and mowing down pedestrians as I go. Cruel? Yes. Illegal? Oh yes. Hilarious as you watch your kill combo meter rise? Oh. Yes.
You’ll have plenty to go through in Retro City as you have access to main quests, side quests, random jobs, and two different kinds of challenges. While you’ll find yourself laughing as you cruise around, you’ll also be finding a lot of markers to initial content in the game. Retro City takes its game map and utilizes its streets, alleys, and buildings very well by stringing plenty of things to do just about everywhere. You can even replay challenges to try and get the high score on online leaderboards.
All this praise doesn’t means everything in Brian’s creation is wonderful. Retro City has some flaws and while, in my opinion, they don’t truly harm the game’s experience, some of these can affect how you feel about the overall package. My biggest complaint is that the game world is littered with cheat codes that do not give you a description of what they do. So naturally, your curiosity gets the better of you. The problem is that as soon as you activate a cheat, you cannot save, earn achievements, or get posted on leaderboards. Those three things are very important. You can’t regain them until you close out of the game and open it up again. No, you can’t just exit your game and load it back up. You actually need to exit the game completely which is really annoying.
If the game literally hands you cheat codes, why are you punished so severely for using them? I can understand disabling leaderboards while cheats are activated and even not earning achievements. However, why disable saving? I was able to beat the game’s mission by myself but some players may run across some severe difficulty leaps later on in the game and may need assistance in moving forward. The readily available cheats won’t be able to help and this may frustrate some of the player base. I’ve actually refrained from using any cheats at all because of the need for a complete restart to regain important features.
Aside from the cheat code disaster, I found an issue with how the game’s missions play out. Namely, the checkpoints in Retro City are merciless. You may find yourself no where near where you were in the mission if you die. There are mid-mission checkpoints but they are few and far between. This can create frustration and even a need to put the game down and relax after attempting a mission 20 times where each attempt needed 5-10 minutes of play time just to get back to your furthest point in the mission.
Retro City also suffers from no real reason to care about dying except checkpoint horrors. You see a screen showing how many “negative” lives you have but nothing really harms your gameplay or performance. You just die, load back in, and continue playing. This isn’t game breaking or annoying like the cheat system but it is something that I recognized and it could use some changing.
I had a lot of fun with Retro City Rampage. In fact, I’ve already started on my second playthrough which is rare for me to do these days. I’m not a huge fan of New Game+’s as I normally beat a game and move on but Retro City has me a tad hooked. Running around in this game proves to be a great stress reliever.
I could go on about a lot more that this game has to offer and talk about arcades, haircuts, masks, and more but a lot of it deals with the references this game has. I feel it would be a crime to talk about a lot of them. You need to experience the kind of stuff this game throws at you to truly appreciate it.
If you’re looking for a game that doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants you to have fun, then Retro City will scratch your itch. For a great price and a feeling that you are supporting a 10-year accomplishment for a lone developer, you really can’t ask for me. Except, well, maybe Retro City Rampage 2. Brian, let’s not have to wait 10 more years to see your next game.
I wanted to take some time and talk about the Vita version of Retro City. This is the best version of the game. Having a game like this portable makes a huge difference. Loading it up anywhere you go and playing through the game either with a few minutes to spare or a car trip, you’ll have plenty to get out of Retro City on a portable gaming device.
Aside from being portable, the Vita version gives you access to the PS3 version as well which is really nice for just one purchase. Also the two versions have a bunch of Cross features such as sharing trophies and cross saves.
If you’re going to buy a version of Retro City Rampage, I seriously recommend the Vita version. If you own a PS3, this is also a plus but I’d use the Vita as your main platform of choice for this game.
I mentioned that we got a PC review code but Cassidee has it. She said she will be contributing to this review as soon as she can with her thoughts and a PC Version section.