Indie Game of the Week: Retro City Rampage

Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about.  Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.

Ten long, hard years. That’s how long it took developer Brian Provinciano to create Retro City Rampage. In that time, the project underwent a number of considerable changes. Whether he realized it or not, Provinciano’s brainchild was evolving. What it eventually transformed into…

Well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

Retro City Rampage was originally conceived as an 8-bit version of Grand Theft Auto III known as Grand Theftendo. The influences are definitely still there, but RCR has since become something much, much more. 

On the very surface, it’s an eight-bit, open-world sandbox. You can steal cars and modify them with new paint and weaponry. You can go on a killing spree with whatever weapons you’ve got at hand, picking up coins (and upping your score) for every person and object you bring down. You can get a haircut or change your hat (seriously). You can jump around like some sort of mad kangaroo, and drop-kick people in the head. As with many GTA titles, there are a number of different challenges scattered throughout the game world, many of which involve racking up ludicrous levels of carnage. A whole host of creative, entertaining minigames only further sweetens the deal. 

You know what? That description doesn’t really do RCR very much justice. Let’s re-focus things a bit, shall we?  

One of the best things about RCR is that it effectively feels like Provinciano has constructed an IV drip of pure nostalgia, and has done so in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the experience. It’s a living parody of everything that defined the 90s(and early 2000), if a loving one. What’s more, many of the best references are built directly into the narrative of the game; during his time in Theftropolis, your character (named “Player”) will knock boots with such renowned personalities as Doc Choc, The Jester, Chief O’Farva, The T-Squad, and Doctor Von Buttnik. As a result, Retro City Rampage plays like a wonderful walk down memory lane – if an extremely violent one. All this is backed up by a soundtrack which is, quite frankly, incredible. 

Player’s journey is an interesting one. He starts out as a hired thug for The Jester, who brings him along on a bank robbery. Things quickly go pear-shaped, and Player ends up stealing Bill and Ted’s time machine. This sends him into the future, where he meets Doc Choc, and enlists the good doctor’s help in repairing the device. What follows is a quest that takes him from one end of the city to the other, and even through time and space. 

The game isn’t perfect. The difficulty curve has some odd, irritating, and even downright infuriating spikes, and the checkpoint system used by the game is frankly awful., You may have to take a break every now and then, lest you throw a controller (or keyboard/mouse) out the window.

Aside from that, though? Retro City Rampage is simple, chaotic, and mindless fun, with more nostalgic references than I can adequately describe here. Have I mentioned that it’s basically GTA as an 8-bit arcade game? That’s nearly enough on its own. 

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