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Crossing Over: Retro City Rampage
October 27, 2014 | Justin Ancheta

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That’s an interesting career choice for all of the out-of-work teachers out there…
Game: Retro City Rampage
Release Date (Windows): October 9, 2012
Release Date (Mac OS): n/a
CrossOver Profile: Click Here
WineHQ AppDB entry: n/a
IMG Review: n/a
Test Platform: MacBook Air (Late-2010; GeForce 320M, 10.9.5, CX 14)
Price: $9.99


In the city of Gwangju, South Korea, a yearly festival is held which is a big, extravagant ode to the 1980's and 1970's. Called the "7080 Chungjang Recollection Festival", it's a curiously anachronistic mashup of both the old and the new. It's a place where people from the 21st century can celebrate a romanticized fantasy of the quaint and glorious 70's and 80's, in the same way that people go to a Renaissance Faire.

For a small fee, young couples dress up in the sailor and military-styled middle school and high school uniforms of yore. Then they can pose to get their picture taken with a quaint little concert or movie poster from the 70's as a backdrop -- the picture being taken of course by someone on a top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy phone from 2014. Parades and street props oozing with 80's and 70's imagery and iconography are backdrops for people snapping selfies on their iPhones mounted on the latest must-have item of modern trend-setting Asian youth: The Selfie Stick. On a concert stage, a band plays Beatles-style rock music, but is drowned out by the latest hyperproduced Kpop mega hit that is surely invading the Japanese music charts, blaring out of the brightly-lit makeup and clothing stores. It's like someone gathered a basketful of items from the 70s and 80s, shoved them into a blender with random elements of 21st century pop culture, and made a smoothie of disjointed randomness.

And I'd say that pretty much sums up the tongue-in-cheek hilarity of Retro City Rampage.


RCR is a game that, by all accounts, shouldn't even exist: an insane mashup of modern and classic game design, drenched in old-school graphics and pop-culture references. It was a joke game, or proof-of-concept, that was originally intended to be styled after the criminal freeroaming open-world of the modern Grand Theft Auto and Saint's Row series, and GTA's influence is definitely felt in the world's design. The punch line is that it was an NES-style 8-bit demake. The game's sole writer, producer, creator, and programmer, Brian Provinciano, crafted an impressively scaled open-world game that reproduced many of GTA's signature elements, scaling it all down into a game barely bigger than 30 MB. Provinciano was even able to squeeze it into the impossibly small technical dimensions of a real NES cart, to boot.

As if that weren't enough though, Provinciano crammed the game full of pop culture references spanning from the 80's all the way up to 90s and through to the movies and games of today: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, SiN, Back to the Future, Doctor Who, The Dark Knight, Duck Hunt, Frogger, Sonic The Hedgehog, Die Hard, Inception, The Beastie Boys... nothing is sacred in this game. Here mustached cops holding donuts loudly proclaim that the villain's plans are due for some "SABOTAGE", while you unabashedly steal a suspicious-looking time machine that might have been something that Peter Capaldi cobbled together with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. The endless references and visual puns are so prevalent in RCR that they almost become a blur, and soon it feels like it's less of a game that has classic game and movie references, and more of a game that is made entirely out of classic game and movie references.

It's probably the game's major weakness: having some sly references and nods to your source material can add some extra smiles and laughs to round out a game's experience, but when the dripping tap of retro visual puns becomes a firehose aimed at your face, it all becomes a little too intense and over-the-top.


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