During the '70s, if your parents caught you smoking, they'd make you smoke the whole pack. It would go one of two ways: either the lung and tongue overload would put you off smoking for life, or you'd hit the ground running and begin adult life with a 20-an-hour headstart over your peers.
Playing Retro City Rampage is like your parents finding you hiding under the bedsheets watching a bit of "I Love 1983" and saying "oh, you like nostalgia, do you? Here, play this. It's got all the pop culture references in the world." Problem is, videogames are already steeped in compressed, turbo-grade nostalgia - so this isn't so much a deterrent, as a super-sweet fix.
The basic idea is a homage to Grand Theft Auto's '90s top-down era. It calls itself a parody, but it's more like a callback to the old days, when the Housers were happy to revel in the odd consequence-free firethrower rampage. Where it earns its parody wings is the way it fits so many slightly wrong references into its storyline. It's not a parody of GTA - it's a dense parody of nostalgia itself.
The lo-fi graphics hark back an era when it was okay to plough through crowds of innocent people. But there's no shortage of other influences. All the 2D GTA missions you'd expect are here - collecting vehicles, taking taxi fares, heists - but within the first ten minutes of the game, you'll also play a Paperboy spoof, fight a man with a Bionic Commando claw, and learn that jumping from one pedestrian's head to the next is a Mario-esque alternative to Molotovs. As far as jokes are concerned, expect quantity over quality. You can also presume to get completely won over by the upbeat exuberance.
Retro City Rampage has all the charm, scattershot wit and entertainment value of a drunk, gabbling child. It's shallow, mindless and simple - that's the point. And it calms down a lot after the intense first hour. But beyond that, there's a generous amount of arcade distractions and leaderboards that give it enough extended life to justify that beefy asking price of 1,200MP.
Download here, if you're man/woman enough.
Cleverly dumb, and pleasantly unpleasant
- Built out of love
- Jokes occasionally funny
- Surprising variety
- Can wear thin
- Why not full screen?