Retro City Rampage DX – Switch Review

Aug 8, 2017

There’s an allure to suspending one’s disbelief in a video game by causing mass chaos through violence. Two prime examples of this are Saint’s Row and, the big kahuna, Grand Theft Auto. The former never appealed to me while only Chinatown Wars on the 3DS and GTA 5 ever held my attention long enough. I had the most fun playing the fifth installment because of memorable characters like Trevor. Other than that, I wouldn’t refer to the violence as fun, although games don’t necessarily need to be fun; games such as GTA are nonsensical really. Whenever I play games like that I ask myself constantly, “What’s the point?” Yet these games sell millions of copies — GTA 5 has shipped upwards of 80M — and make an insurmountable amount of money.

Since GTA 5, I’ve stayed away from games such as the ones I’ve mentioned. So why I thought I’d feel any different toward Retro City Rampage DX when I first caught sight of it browsing the Nintendo eShop on my Switch I’m not sure why. I’m not at all into retro looking games plus I already explained how I find its style of gameplay pointless. Yes, I was a child of the 90s, but, and don’t skewer me in the comments, I don’t have any nostalgic affection toward Back to the Future; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Knight Rider; RoboCop; Sonic or most of the other references the game makes. The only one I liked a lot is a “cameo” by Snake from Metal Gear Solid, now that’s a character and franchise I care about a ton.

I don’t find the setting of RetroCR to be all that interesting or appealing either. The story is told in a much too fast-paced manner and the references feel forced, to the point I stopped playing all together. I can’t speak on behalf of other gamers but I’m over the open-world genre, save for Breath of the Wild which reinvented it. I’d rather spend my time playing through tightly focused experiences. All of my complaints about the game are probably unfair given how it’s an indie title and programmed by one person (Brian Provinciano).

When asked on Twitter by a gamer what the Switch version of RetroCR offers specifically in comparison with the 3DS, since its initial release was back in 2012 and is on every platform to date, Provinciano had this response:

He expounds upon that on the game’s website with:

“…slightly more stylish score display, to improved enemy stomp and swimming controls, to improved lock-on targeting, and mission difficulty tweaks.”

The gaming industry still deals with developers like Telltale Games that don’t have an engine running its games anywhere near the word smooth, so it’s always nice when a product does what it’s supposed to. RetroCR‘s 8-bit graphics look timeless and flawless; there are subtle details with each movement made, shot fired, car crash and explosion. Whether played docked or in handheld mode, the game never misses a beat, literally. Although I do suggest playing undocked because that’s when the game feels most at home. Its soundtrack is pretty darn good too. It’s interesting. I’m not one for retro gameplay but a soundtrack can tickle my fancy.

For $14.99, RetroCR offers a dumbed down GTA and Saint’s Row type of a hook, which didn’t appeal to me. The most fun I had in my time with the game was with challenges scattered across the map that gave the player opportunities to toy around in absolute rampage, leaning into the title. These challenges were different from the odd story and crazy enough to engage me during a playthrough that never had my attention from the start. If you’ve never played RetroCR on any of the other platforms its on, love  80s-90s pop culture nostalgia, want to add to your Switch’s library something somewhat close to GTA and are into retro style games pick this one up. If you’re like me, stay away.

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