Originally released in 2012, Retro City Rampage is available on pretty much any platform that you can think of, it’s even been ported over to MS DOS. However if you’re like me and the title has somehow managed to slip past you all these years, the enhanced version of the game Retro City Rampage DX, is now available on the Nintendo Switch eShop giving players one more console option to give the game a spin. Regardless of if you’ve played it before or not, it is one of the strongest games on the Nintendo Switch eShop and worthy of your time.
The gameplay is a callback to the top-down view Grand Theft Auto games that came out on the original PlayStation and the PC. The game is chalk-full of references to games and other media from the 1980’s and early 90’s. I could list some of the more clever call-backs, but we would be here all day. The sheer amount of references to games from the NES era is impressive. It would be easy for the game to rely on the nostalgia specific aspects, and not be much fun, but the game is a lot of fun.
My biggest complaint about the newer generation Grand Theft Auto games is that it’s just not as much fun or exciting to cause complete chaos like it was in the III-Vice City-San Andreas era of the series. Retro City Rampage DX, brings me back to the fun that those games provided. On top of the game’s story missions there are plenty of “sprees” to unlock and take on, where you try to beat the high scores in challenges that are weapon or kill based. Trying to see how many people you can run over with your car in fifty seconds is a lot of fun.
The game’s story mode has you control the character named Player, and you get sent back in time to the 1980’s, must find your way back. You do this by helping Doc Choc, a scientist who is based on Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, build a time machine to get you back to the time that you came from. While most of the game is presented from the top-down perspective like the old Grand Theft Auto games, there are a few times when the perspective changes to side scrolling, or behind the car similar to Outrun or Pole Position.
As both a parody and a standalone game, Retro City Rampage DX succeeds, although the pitfalls that tend to plague parody games do start to show, they’re nowhere near as frustrating as in games like Saints Row IV. Towards the end of the game, the game will send you on fetch quests or have you drive back and forth from one place to another, and make a joke about how you’re just doing the same thing over and over again. It’s funny because it’s true, but near the very end it does start to rely too much on these tropes that it decides to poke fun at. The saving grace here is that the missions are rather short, so you won’t be doing these tasks for too long.
The end of the game does also feature a bit of an unnecessary spike in difficulty. Every time that you die, the game shows you how many lives you’ve used up, and I would be willing to guess that probably close to fifty percent of the deaths that I had by the end of my time with the story mode came from the last two levels. It took me about nine-hours to complete the story mode, and this included completing most of the sprees as well.
There is plenty to do here after the game is completed though. There is a free roam mode (with unlockable characters that you can find in the story mode or in the free roam mode) as well as arcade challenge which allows you to select sprees and story missions from the game’s main menu to complete under specific time frames or other constrictions. The game also includes the achievements/trophies from the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game, a nice inclusion even though they cannot be seen outside of the game. I’ve probably put around an extra six hours in the game, running around and trying to complete everything and I still haven’t done everything yet, so there is a lot of replayability here.
My one minor gripe would be that when running around in Story Mode and you come across a spree it doesn’t tell you what the spree is or what your high score on that spree is. Meaning when I was running around looking for collectables I hadn’t gotten yet and trying to complete all the spree’s with a gold medal, if I selected one that I had already completed or gotten gold on, I wouldn’t know until the spree had already loaded up and then either had to wait out the clock or get myself killed to get out of it.
For retail games there really hasn’t been a whole lot of single player experiences on the Switch this summer, while the eShop has been host to many. Retro City Rampage DX, is one of the finest examples of a great single player experience on the eShop, and might be my favorite game from the downloadable service so far. It’s become a bit of a cliché for indie games to be homages to the 8-bit days of gaming, but Retro City Rampage DX, has plenty of heart and enjoyable gameplay. It’s no surprise that there’s still demand for it to be released on a new consoles, five years after its original release.