Retro City Rampage

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Retro City Rampage
Retro City Rampage cover.png
Developer(s)Vblank Entertainment
Publisher(s)Vblank Entertainment
D3 Publisher (XBLA)[1]
Designer(s)Brian Provinciano
Composer(s)Leonard J. Paul,
Jake Kaufman,
Matthew Creamer
Platform(s)Android, DOS, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, OS X, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Wii, Xbox 360
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows
  • WW: October 9, 2012
PlayStation 3 (PSN), PlayStation Vita
  • NA: October 9, 2012[2]
  • PAL: January 16, 2013
Xbox 360 (XBLA)
January 2, 2013
Wii (WiiWare)
February 28, 2013
Nintendo 3DS (eShop)
February 6, 2014
  • WW: November 11, 2014
PlayStation 4
  • NA: November 11, 2014
  • PAL: November 12, 2014
Linux, MS-DOS
  • WW: July 29, 2015
PlayStation Portable
  • NA: July 19, 2016
  • PAL: July 27, 2016
  • WW: March 10, 2016
  • WW: December 13, 2016
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: August 3, 2017

Retro City Rampage is an open world action-adventure video game developed by Vblank Entertainment. It is a parody of retro games and '80s and '90s pop culture, as well as Grand Theft Auto and similar games. It was released on October 9, 2012, for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows; on January 2, 2013, for Xbox 360; and on February 28, 2013, for Wii. The game was released for the Nintendo 3DS via its Nintendo eShop as Retro City Rampage DX, an enhanced version of the original, on February 6, 2014, and later on the Nintendo Switch on August 3, 2017.[3][4] Later ports of the original also got the enhanced version of the game. In June 2015, a DOS version called Retro City Rampage 486 was announced with the majority of its features left intact.[5]


In the city of Theftropolis in 1985, "The Player", a thug for hire, is hired as a henchman of a major crime syndicate led by the Jester. Three years later, during a bank heist gone wrong, The Player runs into a time-traveling telephone booth, which he then steals from its owners. The booth flings him forward an indeterminate amount of time to the year 20XX. Upon arrival, the booth breaks down and a man named Doc Choc (a parody of Dr. Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future films) arrives in his own time-traveling vehicle and rescues the Player, mistakenly believing him to be a time-traveling hero.

The Player must work with Doc Choc to gather the rare parts needed to repair the time booth, whilst encountering numerous 1980s videogame and pop culture references and parodies, including law enforcement, the Jester, Bayside High School students, and Dr. Von Buttnik (a parody of Sonic's arch enemy Doctor Eggman), Doc Choc's rival and head of R&D at A.T. Corp, a tech corporation that desires to use the time machine to control the electronics market.


The game is inspired by Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto games, in that the player can complete a variety of missions within an enormous city that is open to explore. During development, around 50 story missions and 30 challenge levels were planned.[6] Gameplay elements shared with GTA include the vast assortment of weaponry, the miscellaneous shops, the ability to hijack vehicles, and the ability to attract police attention with violence and destruction.

As a homage to numerous 8-bit video games, Retro City Rampage incorporates design elements from many different genres, and features 16 graphical filters that simulate various retro computers and game consoles. Although it is primarily played from a top-down bird's-eye viewpoint, in specific sections, it may switch to a strictly two-dimensional perspective in the style of a 2D platformer.

The game also includes a "Free Roaming Mode" that allows players to freely explore the city and cause as much chaos as they can. This mode can also be played with unlockable characters from other indie developed games: like Super Meat Boy, Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series, and Steve from Minecraft, among others.

On February 28, the same day as the Wii release, an update for PC became available, allowing users to access a version of the game's prototype, called ROM City Rampage. ROM City Rampage is a port of Retro City Rampage to NES homebrew and emulated within Retro City Rampage. PC users received the update for free, and it was included with the Wii and 3DS versions. The update was later released on PSN and Xbox Live.


The concept for Retro City Rampage originally came from a homebrew project that began in 2002. In his spare time, game programmer Brian Provinciano constructed his own Nintendo Entertainment System development kit and set about remaking one of his favourite titles, Grand Theft Auto III, with 8-bit sprite graphics, under the codename of 'Grand Theftendo'. At the 2011 Game Developers Conference, he revealed his methods, showing how, over several years, he built advanced software tools to help him overcome the limitations of Nintendo Entertainment System hardware, before eventually shifting development to the PC.[7]

At one point in the process, he started to add characters and locations from other games he enjoyed from his childhood. This ultimately inspired him to work on the project full-time, but instead of using scenarios from GTA III, he decided to create an entirely new game with original content in 2007, which would be released as a downloadable title for consoles. He used a real-time map editor to adjust and debug on the fly, and also integrated several suggestions from playtesters.

For most of the project, he had worked completely independently on the design, coding and art. Later in development, he hired a pixel artist to assist with the visual design of the game and went through revisions. He also brought in three renowned videogame composers, Leonard "FreakyDNA" Paul, Jake "Virt" Kaufman and Matt "Norrin Radd" Creamer, to create chiptune songs for the game's soundtrack. Provinciano stated that the game contains roughly two and a half hours of chiptune music. On February 22, 2012, the Retro City Rampage soundtrack was released on Bandcamp.[8]

The game pays tribute to many titles through its title, storytelling, levels, and character abilities, such as River City Ransom,[9] Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, Mega Man, Contra, Bionic Commando, Metal Gear, Smash TV, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others. The game also pays tribute to "cheesy" one-liners, television shows and pop culture, as well as cameos including Phil Fish (creator of Fez), Billy Campbell, and Phil Guerrero (of YTV fame) with permission.

Despite the game's title sounding similar to River City Ransom,[9] Vblank Entertainment's Retro City Rampage Twitter account has stated that the title is, in fact, not a reference to River City Ransom.[10]

The game has received several updates since the original release polishing the game and adding features. The PC version specifically has been updated 15 times.[11]


Aggregate scores
GameRankings(3DS) 85%[12]
(PSV) 77%[13]
(Wii) 76%[14]
(PS3) 75%[15]
(PC) 73%[16]
(X360) 72%[17]
Metacritic(NS) 91/100 [18]
(IOS) 84/100 [19]
(3DS) 83/100[20]
(PSV) 79/100 [21]
(PS3) 71/100[22]
(PC) 71/100[23]
(X360) 71/100[24]
Review scores
Game Informer7/10[26]
GamesRadar+3/5 stars[27]
Joystiq4/5 stars[31]

Retro City Rampage has received positive reviews. It holds a metascore of 71 on Metacritic.

As of March 2013, the game had sold around 100,000 copies. PS3 and PC versions made the most profit, 360 version the third most, and Wii came last with about 2500 units sold.[32]

As of December 2014, the developer announced the game had reached 400,000 sold copies (and an additional 270,000 PS+ units) while also revealing that the PC and the PlayStation family versions were the most successful.[33]


On November 24, 2015, Shakedown: Hawaii, a sequel to Retro City Rampage, was announced. Set 30 years after the major events in Retro City Rampage, the game features an open world, destructible environments and 16-bit visuals. The game is set to be released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch. The game was released on May 7, 2019 for all platforms, with a Nintendo 3DS version released on September 19, 2019 in North America, in Europe and Australia on September 26, 2019.[34]


  1. ^ "Retro City Rampage is finally right around the corner after its legendary (and lengthy) development". Develop. June 5, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  2. ^ Fletcher, JC (October 4, 2012). "Retro City Rampage's life of crime starts Oct. 9 on PS3, Vita, and PC". Joystiq. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  3. ^ Whitehead, Thomas (2013-12-21). "Retro City Rampage Confirmed for Q1 2014 and a Discount Price on 3DS". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  4. ^ "Retro City Rampage DX Hits Switch Thursday". Vblank Entertainment. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Prescott, Shaun (30 June 2015). "Retro City Rampage is getting an MS-DOS edition". PC Gamer. Future plc. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  6. ^ Wahlgren, Jon (September 21, 2010). "Interviews: Brian Provinciano - Retro City Rampage". Nintendo Life. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  7. ^ Kaluszka, Aaron (May 21, 2011). "Brian Provinciano on Retro City Rampage - Feature". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  8. ^ "Retro City Rampage Soundtrack". Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Retro City Rampage review – back to old school". 4 January 2013.
  10. ^ Retro City Rampage [@RetroCR] (3 September 2015). "I noticed the River City Ransom Wikipedia page says Retro City Rampage's name is a reference to it, but it's not. Anyone care to correct it?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  11. ^ "Retro City Rampage: NEWS December 14th, 2013".
  12. ^ "Retro City Rampage DX for 3DS - GameRankings".
  13. ^ "Retro City Rampage for PlayStation Vita - GameRankings". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Retro City Rampage for Wii - GameRankings".
  15. ^ "Retro City Rampage for PlayStation 3 - GameRankings". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Retro City Rampage for PC - GameRankings". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Retro City Rampage for Xbox 360 - GameRankings". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  18. ^ "Retro City Rampage DX Switch". Metacritic.
  19. ^ "Retro City Rampage for IOS Reviews - Metacritic".
  20. ^ "Retro City Rampage for Nintendo 3DS Reviews - Metacritic".
  21. ^ "Retro City Rampage for PlayStation Vita Reviews - Metacritic". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Retro City Rampage for PlayStation 3 Reviews - Metacritic". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Retro City Rampage for PC Reviews - Metacritic". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  24. ^ "Retro City Rampage for Xbox 360 Reviews - Metacritic". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  25. ^ Donlan, Christian (12 October 2012). "Retro City Rampage review". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  26. ^ Ryckert, Dan (11 October 2012). "Retro City Rampage - A Frustratingly Faithful Tribute To The NES Era". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  27. ^ Gilbert, Henry (12 October 2012). "Retro City Rampage Review". GamesRadar. Future plc. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  28. ^ Petit, Carolyn (12 October 2012). "Retro City Rampage Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  29. ^ "Retro City Rampage Review". GameTrailers. Defy Media. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  30. ^ Miller, Greg (15 October 2012). "Retro City Rampage Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  31. ^ Hinkle, David (12 October 2012). "Retro City Rampage review: Love letter". Joystiq. AOL. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  32. ^ Holmes, Jonathan (30 March 2013). "Retro City Rampage sales, threshold hopes, XBLA regrets". Destructoid. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  33. ^ "Retro City Rampage: SALES ANALYSIS December, 2014".
  34. ^ "Shakedown: Hawaii Launches On 3DS eShop This Month, Includes The "Full Tank" Update". Nintendo Life. Retrieved October 9, 2019.

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