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  1. PlayStation Plus members are getting a bit of a gift from Sony over the holiday season. If you haven't heard, they are offering up a big digital sale, but that's not all there is. The PSN Holiday Essentials sale started up last week and is continuing with sales on big name digital titles such as Journey, Papo & Yo, and others. Plus members get pampered with additional discounts on the already discounted games. However, if you're a Plus member then you're probably most interested by the promise of another game you can access freely. Retro City Rampage is that game, and is available to play on both PS3 and Vita. This is due to the game being part of the Cross Buy crowd, although Plus members won't be "buying" it. The PS Store usually updates at some unknown time on Tuesday's but things are different this week. Due to Tuesday being Christmas, the Store will actually update today. Therefore, you can start messing around in Retro City Rampage shortly. If you're interested in looking at the second week of digital sales, then check their latest blog entry for details.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Retro City Rampage

    Developer: VBlank Entertainment Inc. Publisher: VBlank Entertainment Inc. Platform: PC (GOG, Steam, Web), PSN (PS3, Vita) Release Date: October 9, 2012 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PC version of the game Sometimes games have a long development cycle. If you“ve been waiting for Retro City Rampage since the beginning then you“re very aware of this fact. This isn“t a game that started up only a few years ago either. It began life way back in 2002 when it was just known as Grand Theftendo. A lot has changed since then but the basic idea behind the game hasn“t been compromised. Retro City Rampage is basically what Grand Theft Auto would be like if it were released for the NES. You start the game as Player, who is some tough criminal scum. Thanks to some time traveling plot, you go back to Theftropolis and get to wreak even more havoc. Although it looks old, it manages to bring in modern gameplay mechanics such as a cover system when in firefights. Shooting even allows for locking on to targets, or else you can simply spray and pray with the twin stick shooter style. Although the game can definitely be played on keyboard, it feels smoother on a controller, which is the intended mode of play. From visuals to audio to gameplay, this is definitely a retro-inspired experience. Although the game is a bit too technical to ever run on an NES now, it still evokes the feelings of those older gaming days. However, it“s not content to simply emulate past styles. It also makes jokes out of the play styles as well as mistranslations, character quirks, and more. While the game would play fine without this heavy coating of referential humor, it is certainly not usually hindered by it. In the very first minutes of the game you“re going to be simply overwhelmed by reference. Metal Gear, Mega Man, Frogger, Back to the Future, and more are brought to mind almost immediately. There are, in fact, so many references to other games packed in that only the most encyclopedic gamer would be able to catch them all. Regardless, the ones hammered on most often tend to be for the most popular games. In that way, both gamers with a casual retro game knowledge will be able to get as much enjoyment out of the humor as others. As mentioned in the list, 80s movies also have a place in the game. Very obvious references to other popular time travel movies are brought up and it works well with the tone. For all the constant reference, it feels very much like the game is a celebration although it isn“t always as fun as that sounds. For example, do you remember a stage from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where you must swim and dodge seaweed? That“s in here as a stage and it“s still not very fun. Retro games are now known for their difficulty and Retro City Rampage pulls few punches in regards to it. If it makes you play a minigame styled after a tough title then it“s still going to be a chore. Sometimes it“s not a frustration, but other times it really does get on your nerves. Obviously the developer recognizes the chore that these levels presented, and since we aren“t in those days any more, it would be nice to see them simplified. Why simplify challenge when the game is based off hard 80s titles? It isn“t all pure skill that will get you through them. The game itself has a specific control scheme which just isn“t best for all of the varied gameplay sections that it makes you play. It would have been much more time consuming to change play control for each mini game, but still, there should have been some middleground met to make them challenging, but not because of the controls not fitting the mode. Most of the time you will not have too much trouble due to controls, though. Beyond sections that evoke specific games, the rest of Retro City Rampage is very much like the older Grand Theft Auto games. From a top down perspective, you race around the city looking for missions to take on. “Race” isn“t exactly the right word though when half the vehicles plod along with no sense of speed. Going from place to place, noting all the references on buildings, streets, and billboards, is entertaining at first. After a while though the excitement drains from it a bit. Sure, it“s still a hugely detailed world with a lot to find, but it loses some charm along the way. One part of lost charm is due to the comedic stylings of the script. Some jokes are great fun, but others are uninspired and childish. Perhaps I was just in the wrong mindset for it all, but with the game constantly joking at you, it again loses some punch. With the world that the game inhabits, it makes sense that this could never be a serious game, but it could have used an editor to trim text of less successful jokes. Again, the hits to misses ratio on the script favor the hits. It“s just something you tend to notice when playing through every mission available. Visually, Retro City Rampage excels. It does pixel style in a way truly reminiscent of older days, instead of some of the fancier pixel art we see with other indie games. This may mean it looks “ugly” to modern gamers, but most of us should still be able to appreciate it wholeheartedly. Possibly the coolest feature in the game is the ability to change the visual “style”. Although it will not change how the pixels actually look, it will change the color schemes. This is done to emulate, say, the Game Boy“s original greenish screen with black blocks. There are a multitude of these modes for things like a black and white TV, green and black screened PCs, and even the Virtual Boy. It“s a testament to how much the developer loves retro games that they implemented so many color modes. Would gamers who missed out on the 80s and early 90s eras of gamings benefit from this title? It seems like this game would bewilder them. Without knowledge of the past, this game would probably seem schizophrenic and have no sense of self. To be fair, it really has little “self” that isn“t drawn from other games, but at least it“s funny for those of us who are aware of other older games. Really, it seems that Retro City Rampage is trying to sell gamers on nostalgia. The gameplay itself isn“t addicting, and at times annoying, but it“s worth it to have the joy of recalling our favorite games from the past. If you were someone who had an NES, SNES, Genesis, or even PC in the 80s or 90s, then this is a game you should check out. It may not be the most fun in the world to control, but it isn“t necessarily about the gameplay. It is about reminding us all of simpler gaming experiences that are now mostly gone. This is an ambitious goal and many have already accepted the game based on premise alone. Give Retro City Rampage a shot and you might just feel like a kid again. Pros: + Feels like a game that could have come out on NES + Great deal of visual customization + Thousands of references to spot Cons: - Some games it recalls for missions don't play well with control scheme - Some of the script fails to be humorous - References galore leaves less time for the game to excel on its own merits Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10) Decent Retro City Rampage excels at recapturing the feelings many gamers haven“t experienced since the NES era.