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Video Game / Retro City Rampage

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The entire open-world is in danger.

THE PLAYER is out for a friendly frolic of CRIME CAPERS when suddenly ambushed by EVIL GOOD GUYS. They will stop at nothing to end his RAMPAGE OF DOOM threatening the citizens of Theftropolis City. Are YOU bad enough to defeat the EVIL GOOD GUYS?

Retro City Rampage is a WiiWare, Play Station Network and PC (downloadable from, Humble Bundle, and Steam) game released in October 2012; the Xbox Live Arcade version was released in January 2013, a Nintendo 3DS release (as Retro City Rampage DX) followed in February 2014. That was followed by a Nintendo Switch version in 2017.

The game's original developer, Brian Provinciano, built his own homebrew engine for NES development, and started work on a Retraux demake of Grand Theft Auto III. After overcoming programming limitations by moving the game to the PC, he started adding in other various references to the characters from his childhood, including, but no doubt not limited to classic games such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Bionic Commando.

As these references became more and more prevalent, Brian decided to make the game an entirely new game as opposed to a straight Retraux demake, and the result is the game that you see before you.

The game also contains an awesome soundtrack by Jake "Virt" Kaufman.

View the soundtrack trailer here.

On November 2015, a spiritual successor titled Shakedown: Hawaii was announced. It was released in May 2019.

This game contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of pretty much anything evocative of the 80s and early 90s, particularly with regards to gaming.
  • All Just a Dream: Used twice, both times a Shout-Out to the ending of Super Mario Bros. 2. The first comes after A Taste of Power in the game's beginning. The second happens in the ending, after defeating the final boss. Before dropping Doc Choc off in the past, Player goes to the gun store and buys a Lightgun, the most powerful weapon in the game. Immediately after this, the game cuts to Player in his bed, as if the entire game, having taken place in the past, was just a dream. He wakes up to a news report of an APB on him, with massive forces waiting at his doorstep. He replies, "Lock n' load!!" with the Lightgun in hand, in a subversion. After the credits roll, the game resumes.
  • Alternate Monochrome Version: The game settings allow you to choose from a variety of color palettes, several of which are monochrome to mimic specific retro game systems such as the Game Boy and Virtual Boy.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Power tips.
  • A Taste of Power: Several times. The Jester lending the Player his speed shoes, the Player's dream of causing mayhem with a rocket launcher and a tank, and the Player from the future coming back to give the present-day Player a ride in the time machine car.
  • Bad Boss: The Jester, who blames his henchmen for anything that goes wrong, and then blows them up for it. The Player's the only henchman he treats with respect.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Von Buttnik.
  • The Cameo: Ms. 'Splosion Man, Commander Video, Meat Boy, and Steve? make appearances.
  • Captain Ersatz: All the references are one of these.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Player is, in his own words, an "aspiring super-criminal".
  • Catchphrase: "GOOD GOSH!" for Doc Choc.
  • Character Customisation: You can get hats, accessories and tattoos for Player, although they won't change his low-res sprite much.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Can be created if Player spends some time playing Virtual Meat Boy, which involves him trying to avoid the missles launched by the final boss until the fuel runs out. The final boss fight against Dr. Von Buttnik is fought in almost exactly the same manner, except that instead of running a timer down, you have to shoot him down with your own missiles.
  • Continuing is Painful: You (technically) have infinite lives, but dying in Story Mode strips you of all your weapons.
  • Death Trap: The Player (as Biffman) gets caught in one, in an Adam West-era Batman fashion.
  • Drunk on Milk: Literally — drinking milk makes Player nauseous and heavily distorts your vision. Drinking coffee cures it instantly.
    • It is however implied that the milk is tainted.
    • It's always referred to as "Milk" (including the quote marks), and in portraits looks like a mug of beer.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In a flashback, Player is disgusted when Sweat Bomber tells him to kill the residents of a computer store he just stole from purely for the sake of profiting off of their funerals. In general, Player doesn't seem to like committing evil acts for the sake of corporate profit.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Cars explode if they take too much damage. So do bicycles. And skateboards.
    • And shopping carts.
  • Excuse Plot: The Player stumbles upon a time machine, breaks it, and tricks a local scientist into helping him fix it. Carnage ensues.
  • Fartillery: Sort of. One of the vehicles is a ridable gorilla (Could it be a reference...), who boosts forward by way of sudden gaseous emissions.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Mocked in the form of "Milk". See Drunk on Milk above.
  • Gameplay Roulette: In the course of your missions, expect to engage in swordfights, deliver newspapers, and navigate an undersea obstacle course among scores of other variants of gameplay.
  • Game Within a Game: The in-universe arcade games, "Virtual Meat Boy", "Bit.Trip.Retro City", and "Epic Meal Time: Epic Might Test". The latter is an implementation of Mortal Kombat's "Test Your Might" minigame. There's also "Super Stomp Pals", though that's not playable.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Player has the classic heart boxers, as seen when he's sleeping.
  • Golf Clubbing: A golf club can be bought as a melee weapon from a hardware store.
  • Greaser Delinquents: Considering he's from The '80s, Player is completely decked out with a mullet, leather jacket, and blue jeans.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: In full effect when Player has to buy a hockey mask for a mission and claims he's doing it as part of improving his golf game. Specifically on his slam dunk.
  • Hero Antagonist: They're even pretty much named that: the "Evil Good Guys" like the police who are trying to stop the Player from rampaging.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The Player's name is, well, Player.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Lightgun, which can destroy anything in a single shot. It's available after finishing the story mode. It also makes the sound of an NES Zapper trigger, making it the only entity in the game that doesn't make an 8-bit sound.
  • Invisible Walls: Available, not as obstructions, but as collectibles!
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Graphically, the lava in Final Castle does look exactly like boiling kool-aid, but special mention goes to the moat surrounding the castle. It is pretty explicitly referred to as water, but here and nowhere else in the game, the water is a purplish red. This is not explained.
  • Marathon Level: The last set of story levels are presented as a single unbroken chain of events, giving the impression that you need to beat all of them in a single sitting. They include getting captured by the police and being forced to participate in Death Cam VHS, having to outrun the police in a monster truck to get to where Major Lee will pick you up and give you a ride to the final level, having to pile up the enemy corpses in the water to reach the entrance, opening chests to find where the key is, finding out there's no key and having to survive enemies with rocket launchers that destroy the walls until you find a hole that leads to the sewers, taking the Turtle Van for a ride through the sewers, having to go through another (thankfully brief) water level, getting bitten by a radioactive plumber and gaining Shockwave Stomp powers, returning to the actual final level from the sewer exit, smashing through the walls until you actually find the key and make it to Dr. Buttnick and defeat him, chasing him through the exploding base on a motorcycle, finding Doc Choc's time machine, chasing after it and making it to 30XX through a time portal it created and actually catching up to his time machine, using the guns Buttnick told Choc to install on it to defeat him for good. Thankfully, you can still quit playing after any "STAGE (x)" message and resume the final set of missions from that point onwards, even though it doesn't make much sense narrativewise.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Parodied in one of the trailers. The game has a licensed breakfast cereal. Guess who that's a nod to?
  • Mercy Mode: Some of the tougher missions can be skipped, and some will give you a rocket launcher if you fail a few times.
  • Never Say "Die": Mocked in the manual where beating up and shooting at people is described as "helping them "SLEEP"".
  • Nintendo Hard: Fittingly. Well it starts out easy until at least halfway the missions are becoming hard. Near the end there's even the recreation of the infamous NES TMNT underwater level with deadly electrified seaweed too!
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Parodied with this opening line:
  • Pooled Funds: The bank vault you rob in the beginning, complete with lifeguard chair, two lounge chairs, and a "No Diving" sign.
  • Reference Overdosed: Boy, is it ever! See the list of Shout Outs here.
  • Retraux: Expect this word to be appearing a lot in this page.
    • The options menu allows for changing the border around the game to look like a vintage TV, a Captain Ersatz of the Game Boy, an arcade machine, and many more. There's also an option to change the colour filter in the game itself to allow for scan lines, a monochrome display, and to simulate the displays of the NES, Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, three variations of MS-DOS, and Virtual Boy.
    • In June 2015, the game was actually ported to MS-DOS (complete with a physical release on 3.5" floppy disks), with most of the features intact.
  • Shout-Out: Way too many to count. You'll find its separate page here.
  • Shovel Strike: Same case as the golf club mentioned above.
  • Stalking Mission: Mocked where the player goes on foot and has to drink coffee in order to stay awake.
  • Stylistic Suck: One of the trailers for the game, in an obvious parody of Nintendo's habit of adapting their biggest names into breakfast cereals, features several occurrences of minor Totally Radical, as well as deliberate screen distortion as if it was recorded on an old VHS tape.
  • Super-Speed: Drinking coffee grants the player "Coffee Jitter Speed Power" for a short time.
    • The Speed Shoes powerup also does this.
  • Take That!: One of the subplots of the story mode involves greedy video game corporations. The game is not afraid to veil said corporations as thinly as possible.
    • It also doesn't hesitate to mock the idea of video games brainwashing people into becoming more violent. JAILBREAK SIMULATOR!
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Final Castle's Clubhouse and Grill
  • Time Travel: Happens early in the story, setting the Excuse Plot in motion.
  • Trust Password: The Player does this early in the game to his future self. Naturally, they're both thinking of sixty-nine, dude.
  • Updated Re-release: Retro City Rampage DX, which was a 3DS exclusive before being released on other platforms has several updates and new features. Not limited to a new HUD, able to store a car and choose it later in a garage, and a weapon selection menu.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The last two levels are first person mode-7 like racing games, with the final boss combining that with vertical shooter elements.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In stage 2 of Final Castle, it's possible to trap yourself by killing the entire Bomb Squad and using up all of your bazooka shots. With nothing to blow up the walls and nothing to kill you, your only option is to save your game and start the whole stage over again.
  • Video Game Demake: Retro City Rampage 486, a DOS port of the game that fits on a floppy disk and that will run on vintage hardware (minimum requirements are a 386 with a math co-processor, 486DX recommended), is available for free to owners of the game.
  • Villain Protagonist: From the opening crawl: "THE PLAYER is out for a friendly frolic of CRIME CAPERS when suddenly ambushed by EVIL GOOD GUYS. They will stop at nothing to end his RAMPAGE OF DOOM threatening the citizens of Theftropolis City. Are YOU bad enough to defeat the EVIL GOOD GUYS?"
    • Ultimately subverted as The Player, while still committing a slew of crimes over the course of the game, ends up helping the good scientist against a worse villain.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Played with. The player can buy new hairstyles, hats, glasses, tattoos, and even visit a plastic surgeon, but because of the retro style of the game this doesn't have much effect on the the actual character model. The customizations also don't overlap (except for body tattoos, which don't change your character model at all, just your portrait) — you can get a haircut, but your hair goes back to the default if you buy some sunglasses or a hat.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: To be expected from a game which started life as a demake of Grand Theft Auto III.