Review: Retro City Rampage is the "Weird Al" album gaming deserves
With Retro City Rampage, indie developer Brian Provinciano is quickly establishing himself as the 'Weird Al' Yankovic of video games. I'd argue this is both a good and a bad thing for the game, no matterwhat your opinion of Yankovic's popular brand of music satire is.
Like a Weird Al album, RCR is marked by a reliance on jokes that require a deep knowledge of pop culture, heavily tilted towards retro gaming (as the name implies). The sheer volume of these references is overwhelming even for someone who grew up steeped in games and the culture surrounding them. In the first half hour of playing, I noticed references to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES), Mega Man, Ducktales, Duck Hunt, Battletoads, River City Ransom, Grand Theft Auto, Bomberman, Mortal Kombat, Batman (NES), Frogger, and Sonic the Hedgehog. After that, I gave up my quest to list every single shout-out, but trust me, the list only got longer from there.
These references range from embarrassingly in-your-face (a Dr. Robotnik-styled villain named 'Dr. Von Buttnick" and an extended Saved by the Bell parody featuring 'Mr. Balding') to remarkably subtle (A billboard for a mouthwash called 'Gargle Quest' and an Oregon Trail-styled covered wagon called the Dysentruck). In either case, like a 'Weird Al' song, the jokes tend to be funny the first time and quickly lose their edge with each subsequent exposure. The first time you pass a business called 'Epic Falafel,' you might grin. The second through 50th times, it's just part of the scenery.
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