Retro City Rampage was years in the making for Brian Provinciano and a small team through his studio Vblank Entertainment, but came up against bumps in the road. It eventually made its way to WiiWare, and in time Retro City Rampage DX arrived on PC, consoles and the 3DS eShop as an enhanced version of what was an excellent game. Old-school and retro-styled, packed with pop-culture references and unabashedly chaotic, it's a game we've enjoyed on multiple occasions.
It now arrives on the Switch with a few more tweaks and all of the many updates that have graced the DX iteration since. It's a game well suited to the hardware, too, as its chunky pixels look excellent on a TV but also shine on the portable screen - however you want to play, you'll get some retro kicks.
Let's have a quick refresher on the game for those unfamiliar with its charms - you're 'Player', a crook who gets caught up in a bonkers storyline featuring time travel and a whole lot of real / parody cameos. Rather like the original top-down Grand Theft Auto games on steroids, you run, gun and drive your way around a surprising large and varied world. You can either rattle through the story, which in itself throws up a lot of surprises and quirky challenges, you can punctuate the experience by exploring sub-missions and arcade challenges, or simply explore for loot and quirky things.
The storytelling goes heavy on jokes, both contemporary and rooted in retro gaming, while also throwing up a dizzying range of references that'll delight plenty and potentially baffle others. It's funny whether you 'get' the nods or not, but for those with experience of old-school gaming and even the nature of Indie game publishing of 5-7 years ago - which is relentlessly attacked - it'll have greater impact. Perhaps the humour is 'of its time', to a degree, but we still got the same kicks out of it as on Wii and 3DS.
In terms of gameplay, though, Nintendo gamers finally get the most controllable and flexible version possible; on 3DS improved shooting and aiming was a feature, but having two analogue sticks - as opposed to a Circle Pad and C-Stick - brings it in line with PC and console versions. Movement and free aiming give you a better chance in the numerous chaotic gun battles, while driving has a couple of different control options.
It looks terrific and controls nicely, and what RCR:DX has always done well is shake up gameplay without losing its polish. At times you're jumping and stomping on enemies, on other occasions you're in a death match against multiple gun-wielding foes; you could be on a driving quest, a jokey 'follow' mission and more besides. In riffing on retro games it also keeps things interesting with some fun surprises late on, in particular.
RCR:DX offers a wild ride, then, but there's plenty to discover either in the process of a story playthrough or afterwards when given free rein in the city. In addition to all the fast-paced arcade-style missions you can get new hair styles, disguises and even find small 'arcade games' that recreate other Indie games. It's a title packed with things to do, and even the 'New Game+' mode is a little off the wall.
For some, the DX iteration took the edge off the cruel challenge of the WiiWare original, as it introduces tips while helping players with checkpoints and a lack of real consequence to dying. Look around in the options, though, and you can opt to play the original RCR game version, while also swapping the Graphics Mode between 'Retro+' - which you see in all these screenshots - and '8-Bit'. Even deeper in settings there are some fantastic visual filters - TV Simulation mode has optional borders like 'Arcade Cabinet', the Super Game Boy-inspired 'Super Video Brick' and more. You can also adjust zoom and apply retro-style colour filters that include the likes of 'Blurst Processor', 'Pocket Handheld', 'Virtual Burn' and a host of others.
What you have, ultimately, is an all-in version of the game for Nintendo gamers, which is quite a proposition.
This is the third time we've reviewed this game, on each occasion a more feature-packed and improved iteration. Despite its 2010 roots - and pop culture references to match that time - it stands up extremely well, as pixels this stylish and action this chaotic don't lose their edge. Retro City Rampage DX is still an anarchic, almost overloaded game that bombards the senses while, at the same time, maintaining impressive polish in its gameplay. Whether you're playing it for the crazy story, excessive retro-styled violence or a mix of both, it still has the goods.