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Retro City Rampage

If you haven’t heard of Retro City Rampage yet, you either didn’t grow up with a NES or you’re one of those people that doesn’t play anything but Madden. But if your gaming library consists of more than just the past 3 years of EA sports titles, please, read on.

Retro City Rampage is a Grand Theft Auto open world style parody, but done in glorious 8-bit! In development now by Vblank Entertainment, a process which has almost reached completion after 7 long years. I had a chance to chat with Brian Provinciano, the founder and lead developer, briefly via email. He’s a busy man and has already done a handful of interviews with people far more important than myself, plus I didn’t want to hamper production of this game any further, so I kept the questions short.

Greg – Clearly there were many influences you had going into this game; Mega man, Duck Tales, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Bionic Commando, Jackal. You didn’t seem to stick to just games either, I see Back to the Future* in your logo. Did I miss any? What else was on your mind?

Brian – I got into games because of the games I loved growing up. Retro City Rampage is an homage and celebration to pretty much everything that I’ve held a controller to and enjoyed. I’ve lost count!

Greg – How did you find ways to fit all the parodies* in? Was there a massive brainstorming sessions or just work them in as they came to you? I feel this is a pertinent question because every time I watch a video, I notice another little easter egg.

Brian – There were some brainstorming sessions, mostly in the beginning, but otherwise it’s mostly me. Maxime (the other artist on the project) has some great ideas though too when we’re adding some extra cherries on top.

Greg – I know Grand Thefttendo was the original title. I hear it was even originally supposed to be on a cartridge. What other major changes have taken place since? Are there things that have been taken out of the game that couldn’t fit?

Brian – Grand Theftendo was an entirely different game, but same end goal –an 8-bit Grand Theft Auto style open world game. I developed that on the NES, whereas Retro City Rampage is running on current platforms and does far more than an NES actually could. It still retains the same feel but packs are more punch, fun and is dosed with more sprinkles.

Greg – I guess with the cost of production, I can see why you chose to go digital, but will we ever see a physical copy?

Brian – It’s possible, but I wouldn’t expect something like that to happen for over a year if it did. Digital is far better in many ways. It costs 6-7 figures to release a retail game. Some XBLA games gross less than that. We may sell retro boxes/manuals with download codes though. It’s still up in the air.

Greg – Can you make just one? Or two. One for me, one for you of course. I’ll pay for both.

Brian – Unfortunately you can’t just start the presses for a couple copies of a console game.

Greg – The soundtrack fits perfectly with everything I’ve seen so far. What kind of direction, if any, did you give to your composers? It all seems to be very reminiscent of NES Konami games.

Brian – Konami’s been a great influence, but they’ve been very focused on experimenting with every style, from those of different NES games to music genres that didn’t even exist in those days. The soundtrack covers everything! Some of the songs were designed to be specific homages or fit specific missions, but I also told them to just have fun and play around for many others. In both cases we ended up with amazing tracks.

Greg – I remember last year hearing that Retro City Rampage was coming out holiday 2010. It was then set to release this summer. Any final words on a release date?

Brian – Likely mid-late January 2012. For business reasons I need to wait until the AAA and holiday season craziness is over.

Greg – This has clearly been a labor of love, taking you 7 years to complete. How do you feel? What are your plans afterwards?

Brian – It’s absolutely a labor of love. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out and all of the extra time I spent polishing it makes all of the difference. I was just playing it last night and a cutscene happened which I’d polished last month. I stopped for a moment and said to myself “Wow, those little extra touches really make it feel extra special”. I’m still polishing things as we speak. That’s what makes a game great.

I have a half dozen ideas for games I really want to make, but we’ll see which ones come to fruition, as games take a long time to make.

Greg – Do you still have a classic gaming collection of your own?

Brian – I do. I think I collected about 1/3rd of the NES library. However it’s all in boxes at my parent’s place. I don’t have room for it at my place, or money to continue collecting. Every last penny these days goes directly into funding RCR.

This game is parodies within parodies. They really threw everything into a blender with this one. My personal favorite I’ve seen so far is when the player gets bitten by a radioactive plumber and gains the super stomp ability. This is the type of genius you’ll encounter throughout the game.

Retro City Rampage, coming out early first quarter 2012 for XBOX Live Arcade and Wii Ware. You can check out Retro City Rampage‘s homepage for updates as the game nears its final stages, check out the developer blog, and watch some trailers. Being a big chiptune fan myself, I really dig the soundtrack. If you like that old 8-bit style of music you can download the tracks from the game there as well. The artists do an awesome job putting together a soundtrack that feels completely retro yet altogether something new. I strongly recommend checking out each of their own sites for some rockin’ tunes.

Retro City Rampage Soundtrack Demo Mixtape from Vblank on Vimeo.

As always, don’t forget to share this post. And don’t forgot to drop Brian and his crew a line as well. They’ve put a lot of work into this game. Let them know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

*I know Back to the Future was a game too, but does anyone really care about that awful thing? Let’s forget it existed, ok?

Impossible Threesome

Issue #3

I figured since this was my third review, I would do three games at once. They’ll be short though so that I don’t take up too much of your time. All 3 are what could be considered impossible games.There’s really not too much to say about these type of games other that they never end and they’re impossible and they’re impossible because they never end. For the most part,  they follow basic platforming principles. You go right and jump over or onto things that are in your way. The main difference between these and a traditional platformer is that you don’t stop moving. The game progressively gets trickier and timing becomes more and more precise. There is no respite like a normal platforming game. You just go until you lose.

The Impossible Game

Released in ’09, I think it might have been the first game of its type on XBLA.  It might have been the first of its kind in general, but I’m not sure. I can’t find evidence of one and my memory fails me aside from maybe Adult Swim’s Go Right, but that one was hardly impossible. Even if it wasn’t the first though, The Impossible Game  is one of the the most notable, jumping from XBLA to iTunes and Android, making it the namesake of the genre.

This is the most basic impossible game. The “characters” consist of triangles and squares. You are a square and you can use other squares as platforms to jump onto, but if you hit them sideways, you die. You don’t get along with triangles at all. Any contact with a triangle and you die. You jump over triangles, or jump onto squares to give you extra height to clear a gap or jump over more triangles. That’s pretty much it. I know that sounds really simple but you need to be super precise with this one. There is very little margin for error.  Your timing and reaction skills get severely taxed even just 30 seconds into the game.

I have reason to believe that, despite what I said earlier, this game does have an end. It is perhaps also the most rewarding since, even though you might never reach the end, you at least get the feeling of making some progress. There’s a pattern to the shapes that come at you, so through patience and memorization you at least accomplish a section which you will then have to repeat when you die moments later. The fact that they have released a level pack for it further lends credence to this theory. But I’ll never know for sure. I certainly don’t have the patience to find out.

Techno Kitten Adventure

For a mere 240 Microsoft points you can be harassed by obnoxious techno music!  I refuse to spend much time on this game. I feel I was swindled by my love of kittens. Just look at that cute, fat, smushy, little thing. Yup, that’s what drew me into this one. Kittens, I love ’em. I would be that crazy old cat lady if I were old… or a lady.  Anyway, this game isn’t a writhing mass of cuteness like I thought it would be. Instead it was a hated impossible game wrapped up in a flashing, seizure-y, techno-infused, package. Yes I’m aware that “techno” is in the title, but the kitten blinded me of its existence.

Positive points for this game: It has the widest variety of options, stages, kittens, etc, that I’ve ever seen in an impossible game, which would give it significantly more replay value. Also, all the menus make kitten noises.

Negative points for this game: Everything else.

Instead of playing this game, you could easily just go to a rave and pretend your a kitten and randomly rub against strangers. But you shouldn’t, because raves are for idiots.

Zombie Accountant

The most memorable part of video games, for me, is the music. There’s a reason why 20 years later we still hum the Sonic the Hedgehog theme. So if a bad game has good music, it might still be worth playing. Zombie Accountant isn’t necessarily a bad game but I really can’t stand these impossible games and my thoughts of, “Ugh! Another zombie game?!” almost had me passing this one over completely. I’m glad I didn’t. If for nothing else, it was worth it for the music alone. It’s got a pretty rockin’ chiptune soundtrack that comes from “The Factory” by Multifaros, whose website can be found here.

Zombie Accountant was developed by Going Loud Studios, and it follows your basic impossible game formula. Things are in your way, you have go jump over them, all while it continually gets faster. However, they’ve injected a fair blend of humor to give this game its own flair, the fact that you are an accountant that is also a zombie for starters. There are a few other details that make this one stand out in the impossible game crowd. For example, there are actually TWO commands rather than the ubiquitous jump button; you can also duck!  You must duck under the other accountants. DON’T JUMP! You have no idea how many times I keep trying to jump over them. It’s just a reaction. It seems like you would be able to, but don’t bother, you can’t. The sooner you learn that the better.

Your job is to collect files which are haphazardly floating around for some reason. The more you collect and the less filing cabinets you bump into, the faster you go and the higher your score multiplier gets. I don’t seem to be able to get more than a x3 multiplier, so good luck. Score enough and you can get a promotion, which negates one of the brains you’ve accidentally removed from an accountants cranium. After your 3rd infraction, you are awarded with your Termination of Employment scorecard. Apparently eating too many brains can get you fired.

Whether you were hired by this accounting firm as a zombie, or being an accountant turned you into a zombie (which could be an intended pun), is never revealed.

END

I hate these games. They’re so mindless and I find they’re hard to walk away from once you’ve started. They’re quick enough where you can jump into a 2nd, 3rd, 76th, playthrough before you realize how much you hate yourself for sucking at it. I find parents complaining about their kids playing “mindless” games like Call of Duty, but I bet there’s a bunch out there that have downloaded these or games like this that are far more mindless, but they don’t think that way because there’s no violence in it. Ok, off topic a bit…

Please feel free to leave any comments/suggestions/ideas/yell at me.

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Thanks for reading!

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