Let’s face it, Nintendo Switch owners have got it pretty good at the moment. Between Nintendo’s excellent output, the strong support coming from third parties and the rapidly expanding list of indie releases hitting the Nintendo eShop on a weekly basis, players are spoilt for choice. So much so that its tough to keep up with this avalanche of riches. Retro City Rampage DX was such a game that fell victim to a crowded schedule, but with the Christmas holiday well underway, I took the opportunity to see what I was missing out on.
In Retro City Rampage DX you play as “Player”, a criminal who winds up being hurtled forwards in time accidentally only to have the very machine that sent him into the future break. With the help of one Doc Choc (a very obvious Back to the Future reference), you’ll need to repair the time travelling device and return back to your time. As wacky and wild as the story gets here, really it’s the countless references and parodies the game throws at you that feel like the focus. Everything from Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog to Robocop and The A-Team make an appearance in one way shape or form. With so many of them littering the adventure though, some may find the game’s overreliance on references and call-backs a little lazy or off-putting. As is the case with parody, it’s either your thing or it isn’t.
As for the gameplay itself, the name Retro City Rampage perhaps best describes it. The game wears its retro-style visuals on its sleeve while the city of Theftropolis makes for an excellent playground where chaos and anarchy are encouraged. Think a top-down Grand Theft Auto with the over the top violence of Saint’s Row. Whereas those games would never officially encourage dangerous and destructive behaviour, Retro City Rampage DX actively rewards it. Whether mowing down enemies in your car or firing your weapons madly into crowds you’ll always find yourself earning points for your troubles. Even if I was simply driving onto my next mission, I would often find myself going out of my way to cause more trouble. There’s a certain satisfaction to be had from losing a few minutes annoying the police and then awaiting the inevitable reinforcements for further target practice.
Controlling “Player” is relatively simple allowing you to both fire freely or lock-on to enemies – an ideal ability that makes shooting and moving at the same time a much easier process. Surprisingly the game also includes a jump button, a gimmicky move at first but one that proves especially handy in tougher situations or even avoiding oncoming cars. While the controls work well, there are often times where things can become a little too chaotic to make out. Not a huge issue but one that had me finding the wrong end of a bullet a couple of times.
The city of Theftropolis has a lot to do. A lot. While you’ll be doing plenty of killing, shooting and general exploding in the game’s story-focused missions, you’ll soon unlock further challenges to tackle too. These could be as simple as causing as much destruction within a time limit or something a little more obscure like setting pedestrians on fire while you too are on fire. With medals to earn, you’ll find plenty to sink your teeth into here. You’ll also unlock extras such as new looks for “Player” as well as a good handful of retro screen filters to play the game in.
Retro City Rampage DX looks neat when playing in handheld mode – its retro 8-bit style perfect for the smaller screen. What is surprising, however, is how well it holds up when blown up on a big television – everything is crisp and clear making either playstyle a viable option. With so much going on on-screen, you’ll also find the game maintains a steady sixty frames per second. Just like its visuals, Retro City Rampage’s audio harkens back to the 8-bit days whether it’s the hefty soundtrack or even the sound effects like the tinny roar of a car’s engine.
Retro City Rampage DX is a loud, exciting and mindless open world experience that hurriedly takes you from one insane situation to another. While its humour and story might rely a little too heavily on parodies and past references, the fun had from simply causing chaos in the city of Theftropolis is enough to carry you through to the end. For those looking for their Grand Theft Auto fix on Switch this is certainly worth a look.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Vblank Entertainment