Easter Eggs: Retro City Rampage

By Michelle Balsan, 2 years ago
Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
Chances are, when Retro City Rampage came out, most people had one of two reactions to the game:

"Ugh, we're in the Xbox 360 generation of games! Why are we still getting these games that look like they were made on the NES?"


"Well, look at those eight bit graphics! And the title that sounds somewhat like River City Ransom! Why, I played that in my youth! This speaks to me!"

The question then becomes whether or not Retro City Rampage, which was developed by vBlank Entertainment and published by D3Publisher, is a successful title irrespective oh whether you fall in group A or B. While this game, like any game, will not appeal to everyone, it's certain to please most people, no matter where they stand, for a variety of reasons.

Box Art

The Basics
The main star of the game is the very unimaginatively named "Player". Right off the bat, references to the games of yesteryear are afoot as the introductory sequence references the iconic opening from Megaman 2. Player, as it turns out, is a henchman from 1985 who does his dirty work in the city of Theftropolis. Sadly, the bank heist he's involved in at the game's outset goes wrong, and this surely means Player's boss, Jester, is going to be after him. Luckily, a time traveling phone booth appears and Player "borrows" it from its owners and gets flung forward to the year 20XX (in and of itself, another Megaman reference) where it promptly breaks down.

After Player arrives in Theftropolis of 20XX, he is rescued by Doc Choc, a scientist who is looking to repair his broken time machine. Player is then tasked with recovering those parts, all while trying to avoid his former employer, Jester, and Doc Choc's rival, and the head of R&D at A.T. Corp, Dr. Von Buttnick.

Like all sandbox titles, once players are released to the open world, it is up to them what to do. Player can either run story missions, secondary missions, or engage in a variety of Sprees. The Sprees typically involve using a specific weapon to cause as much destruction as possible in a limited amount of time.

Henchman Union Certified

The Hook
Yes, the gameplay is incredibly solid in Retro City Rampage. The soundtrack, despite or because of its reliance on sounds that would be used to craft game soundtracks in the late eighties and early nineties, is very catchy and completely fits the mood of the game. It's fun to drive around the many vehicles and use the variety of weapons in the game to complete tasks, go for high scores on Sprees, or just to wreak havoc in general.

The hook of the game, however, it that it is completely a love letter to the games and pop culture references the developers grew up with. This is the kind of game that makes the player sit there (so long as they're in that late 20s to early 30s demographic) and go "Wow, these developers really get me."

Von Buttnick

Of course, as mentioned above, the opening of Retro City Rampage is a complete style-theft of Megaman and the gameplay is totally taken from Grand Theft Auto. Go back above and re-read "The Basics". Replace "Doc Choc" with Doc Brown and "Time Machine" with the DeLorean and you easily see the "Back to the Future" reference. Player is hurtled forward in time via a phone booth time machine. "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", anyone? Dr. Von Buttnick is a play Dr. Robotnik of Sonic the Hedgehog fame. There are warp pipes (Mario Bros.), a story arc centered around the wacky antics at Bayside High School ("Saved by the Bell"), an appearance by the ever-elusive Biffman ("Batman"), and visits to the Game Genie (pretty self-explanatory) to seek help and guidance, and that's just a fraction of the obvious stuff.

All throughout Theftropolis there are billboards and other signage, many carrying their own references (there's a Vanilla Ice one, for example), the characters walking around the city also sometimes bring certain cartoon characters to mind (yes, you did just see something resembling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and the equippable suits are also meant to be homage to games of the past (yup, that's totally raccoon Mario for Super Mario Bros. 3).

The bottom line is that you come for the game, but stay for the in-jokes. That what makes Retro City Rampage truly unique among other titles.

Fresh Prints... Get it?

The Achievements
Retro City Rampage includes twenty achievements worth 400G. As the game offers a reasonable level of challenge, the TrueAchievement score sits at 969TA as of this writing. Another explanation for the somewhat high TA score is that only two of its achievements are story based, and they're essentially for starting the game and just about finishing it. There are also a pair of achievements tied to collectibles, one for finding one of the game's guest stars (characters such as Super Meat Boy and Splosion Man, which show that the references aren't restricted to previous console generations) and another for finding all the payphones, loot bags, and invisible walls, which isn't too arduous as the game world is relatively small, and only one achievement where difficulty matters. Beyond that, the majority of the remaining achievements are for performing specific actions in game. Thankfully, due to its open world nature, you can go for these at any time and can even return to them after completing the game.

Of the list, there are two that legitimately can prove difficult - the difficulty one noted above (though like many "beat the game on hard" achievements, you're only required to run the last mission) and another for beating Death Cam without losing a life. The Death Cam mission is Retro City Rampage's tribute to Smash TV, and if you've ever played Smash TV, you'll get why this one's a toughie. Still, it's doable, as are all the game's achievements. They just take a little bit of effort to get done.

'Splosion Man

The Stats
As mentioned above, Retro City Rampage includes 400G worth 969 TA. Chances are, you've heard plenty of people talk about the game. If you're an early adopter of the TA podcast, you may remember Dog of Thunder extolling the game's virtues way back in Podcast 2, and with good reason. The issue is, chatting itself doesn't necessarily translate into buys, and Retro City Rampage has only been tracked 4,033 people as of this writing. Of the 4,033 tracked, only 259 have completed it, meaning the completion rate is 6.42%. The game sits at a 3.9/5 from the TA community, which is somewhat higher than its critical reception via Metacritic, which places the game at a 71/100.

The Price
Retro City Rampage is available on the Xbox LIVE Arcade Marketplace for $14.99. In November 2014, over two years after the game's release, Retro City Rampage received the free Retro City Rampage DX update that included things like a bigger mini map display and rebalanced missions, including the Death Cam one mentioned above. This also marked the first time the game was available in New Zealand and Australia at a price of AU $19.95. As it is an Arcade title, there aren't other options for purchase, but some patience will likely eventually work if the asking price seems high. The game has been on sale as recently as December 2014 for US$4.94 / £3.29 / €4.74 / AU$6.58 / ¥509.

Flax Combobulator

The Verdict
The really brilliant part of Retro City Rampage is that, on top of all of the references, the game itself is a really solid package. People may scoff at the graphics, but it's a design choice - they're very well crafted for what they are intended to be. There are enough options present - the story, the Sprees, the open world mode, the various weapons, suits, hairstyles, etc, - that the game doesn't feel stale at any point, though it is a somewhat short package. The story never fails to be entertaining, and it even takes a turn at shedding a little light (comically) on the game industry itself, and difficulties related to development and publication. While many will be encouraged to play the game just to see how many references they can spot, they'll be compelled to stay to see what actually happens in Theftropolis, and to continue exploring its side streets and alleys beyond the conclusion of the story. This isn't to say it's the kind of game people will return to forever, but each time you spot a reference you missed before will make the return trip worth it.

If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Michelle Balsan
Written by Michelle Balsan
Michelle is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueAchievements and has been a member of staff since 2010. When not contributing to gaming websites, she makes her living as a mild-mannered librarian. She can be compelled to play just about anything if there's a co-op component, and has been playing games with friends and siblings since the Atari 2600. As it's reportedly healthy to have hobbies outside of gaming, she also roots for some of the most difficult sporting franchises to root for, the New York Mets and New York Jets, but offsets that by rooting for the New Jersey Devils. She's also seen pretty much none of the movies you have, but she's working on that.