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[PS3 Review] Retro City Rampage

Retro City Rampage. Oh, what a game, what a game. RCR had been in development for almost 10 years before One-man army Brian Provinciano announced to the world that the game would FINALLY see a full release on every home console in the market.

Retro City Rampage is an 8-bit send-up to ’80s and ’90s video games and pop-culture. Mashing up the old and the new, it drops you into an open-world where you can jump on civilians for coins, then steal their car and outrun the law!

• Over 60 Story Missions
o Missions span every genre, from driving and shooting to stealth, rhythm, swimming, questing and more

• Over 40 Arcade Challenges
o Quick pick-up-and-play action with leaderboard competition and replay sharing.

• Official Crossovers and Bonus Games
o Minecraft, Epic Meal Time, Super Meat Boy, BIT.TRIP: Runner and more.

• Over 50 Vehicles to Drive and Equip
o How about a skateboard with a rocket launcher or a shopping cart with nitro?

• Over 25 Weapons and Power-ups
o From a bionic arm to a light gun, a boomerang to a “ghost busting” proton beam.

• Playable Characters and Cameos!
o Play as characters from other games, as legendary game developers, TV personalities and celebrities.
o Customize your character with one of over 200 styles.

• 2.5 Hours of Music
o Critically acclaimed soundtrack by virt, Freaky DNA and Norrin Radd; Available digitally, on CD and Vinyl.

• Cross Buy and Cross Save
o One purchase includes both the PS3™ and PS®Vita versions of the game.
o Save your game to the cloud on one system, continue on the other!

Before I go any further, I do need to mention that the version I got to play is the best version available. Why? Because Brian went back to work as soon as the game was released and the reviews started to go live. After 10 years of work, he wasn’t going to let some small mistakes made here and there affect the game as a whole, so he returned to the game for one final pass to release an update that addresses pretty much any complaint you might have heard or read at another review. For various reasons, I couldn’t review the game right after launch, and it was decided that reviewing the game after the update was live would be the best way to go. So, to sum things up, ignore any reviews you might have read before!

Retro City Rampage started as Brian’s attempt to do a GTA game (based on the style of the two original games in the series) for the NES. Yes, for the NES. This is why the end product has an 8-bit art style and chiptune-awesome music, and it is one of the reasons why I loved it. Growing up with an Atari and then the NES, Retro City Rampage grabbed my attention from the moment it was first announced. Over the course of development, Brian’s project changed course and, instead of focusing more on the GTA series, it started to morph into an 80’s treasure chest filled with homages to so many games and movies that you could spend hours just walking or driving around the city while viewing the names of buildings as stores (as well as all the billboards around town) to find every single reference.

The game itself is split into two different main modes and one extra mode for your convenience. The first one is Story Mode in which you take the role of Player, henchman extraordinaire for the one and only Jester (yes, similar to the one you’re thinking of right now), who is doing what a henchman has to do if he doesn’t want to be the guy that gets killed at the start of a heist. The game will make sure you learn how to control Player and how to make the most of your criminal spree right from the start… even if, for some reason, you are changed into the role of “good samaritan” after a couple of events. Talking any more about the story would definitely spoil your potential fun, so lets leave it at that. You can either decide to play the main story missions (marked on your map as a blue M), OR you can take on the extra missions that are not mandatory but add even more content to the game. You will unlock more and more challenges as you go along, and there are even some extra activities for you outside of the missions (steal a Cab and have some fun acting as a Cabbie!).

The second mode is Free Roam where you can just go and have some fun being as bad (or good) as you want, destroying every single vehicle that dares to cross our path, stealing one car just to find a faster car while you run over pedestrians, trying to raise your threat level into the red so that the army needs to be called in to try and defeat you… but they’ll probably fail in the end since you can quickly steal their tank to REALLY destroy everything in sight.

All the challenges you unlock by playing Story Mode, or by performing specific actions, can be played from the main menu in their very own Challenges section, speeding up the process of going for gold on every single one since there is a trophy tied to doing just that! If you’re having trouble with getting the golden award for any challenge, you can check the leaderboards and watch a video of how the top players tackled said challenge. It is not cheating because watching how it can be done and actually doing it are two very different things, but you should use this as your last option.

Thanks to the update I mentioned before, the whole game has seen a nice overhaul that makes it shine. Some reviewers tried to go into RCR as if it was a simple action game and were frustrated about the difficulty of the missions. Well, that was their mistake because you’re not supposed to go in guns blazing unless you want to die. You need to shoot and dodge, jump to avoid heavy fire, stomp enemies to conserve ammo and quickly defeat the weaker ones, and always pick up new weapons, ammo and health items as soon as they appear. You can even duck behind an object to rest for a bit while you pick of your enemies without risking your own health, something that most forgot about. In order to address this, Brian added in new tutorials to make sure everyone “gets” the game, and he even added a tips screen that pops up after someone dies several times during the same mission. Extra checkpoints were also added to help those struggling to make it to the end of a mission, and most of the missions were also fine-tuned and rebalanced, which gives us an even better game to enjoy.

Retro City Rampage is a great game to add to your collection, and the fact that it is a Cross-Buy game means that you can easily start on PS3 or Vita and continue playing in the other one, all for $14.99. It will take you about 7-12 hours to complete the game’s Story Mode and every single challenge, and even when you’re done you can still use Free Roam Mode to have fun in short or long burst as needed. The art style, humor, music and gameplay make Retro City Rampage go from being a good game to being a great one, and it is one of the must-have games on PSN.

[review score=”95″ pros=”Very fun game that pays tribute to all other games… ever.

Excellent music.” cons=”The last mission for the game will test how good you really are”]


This review is based on a PS3/Vita version of Retro City Rampage provided by Vblank Entertainment.