Retro City Rampage DX Review (Switch) – “Old-School Perfection”

When it comes to gaming, the late 80s and early 90s era was one that many found to be the golden age of gaming. Simplistic, yet addictive and downright fun games where you didn’t focus so much on getting those “cinematic experiences”. Back in 2012, Brian Provinciano released a dream title of his, Retro City Rampage. Single-handledly developed by him over the course of five years, it released to consistent high praise. In early 2014, he released an updated version called Retro City Rampage DX, which tweaked a variety of elements to fine-tune the game even further. Vblank Entertainment has tried to bring this game to virtually every platform possible (it even got an MS-DOS version!). With the studio’s latest game, Shakedown Hawaii, preparing for release, they’ve decided to also bring their predecessor to the Nintendo Switch. How does the title fare on Nintendo’s new platform?

Retro City Rampage DX is a top-down, GTA style game with 8-bit visuals. You’ll take control of Player, who’s looking for some dirty work to make some cash. From here, he’ll partake in a wild adventure that’ll span over a few decades of gaming and pop-culture that influence the city of Theftopolis. Right from the beginning, you’ll be pulling a bank heist that replicates the intro of The Dark Knight, then run into a time machine to evade the cops, teleport back in time, meet up with Doc (Back to the Future reference) and “borrow” his DeLorean. From there, you’ll be working with Doc to get the DeLorean working again and if Player’s journey wasn’t wacky enough already, the events that await him are only more above and beyond. There’s even a mission where you’ll plant bombs underneath the dam, which happens to be the same area as the bomb defusing mission from the original TMNT NES game, electric seaweeds and all. It’s these moments where the game shines at its top.

As I mentioned before, Retro City Rampage is a GTA style game where you have the whole city of Theftopolis to explore at your disposal. When it comes to combat, there are a whole variety of weapons you can utilize. Interestingly, there are two forms of shooting mechanics: standard lock-on and twin-stick shooter. Fans of twin-sticks will really dig this feature and those who feel that locking-on to enemies is easier for them can go that route too. This gives players options so they don’t feel restricted to only one style. You’ll have your standard firearms but also get weapons that pertain to classic franchises such as Ghostbusters, Bionic Commando and Zelda, just to name a few. These mechanics apply not only to firearms, but melee weapons as well. There’s also a cover mechanic in place that works pretty well. Simply pressing the X button near an object will let Player snap to cover and you’ll be able to move around, peek out of cover and take aim at enemies with ease. If you’re evading enemies, you also have an “air stomp” ability so that you can get the drop on foes. Later in the game, you’ll upgrade this ability to the point where enemies go flying away from your stomps (thanks to a “Radioactive Plumber”). Handling vehicles is very accessible and easy to grasp. All the vehicles have their own speed and handling differences but no matter which type it is, they’re incredibly simple to use. Vehicles range from your average cars, to the TMNT van (which has a Ninja Turtle driving it), to bikes and skateboards, and even shopping carts.

Brian Provinciano clearly has a love for the classic gaming era and it shows. The city is superbly crafted, littered with gaming and pop-culture references around every city block. Whether you come across “Bimmy and Jimmy’s” (Double Dragon), Pizza Gaiden (Ninja Gaiden), and billboards that pertain to certain 80s/90s culture, Retro City Rampage DX is littered with a ton to see. You can go to a variety of places to change Player’s hairstyle and overall image, and there are a ton of different styles to choose from (over 200 styles). Should you come across specific guest appearances in the game, you’ll get the ability to play as them. There’s also Nolan’s Arcade, which contains three mini-games based on other particular franchises out there. You’ve got Bit.Trip Runner, Virtual Meat Boy and Epic Meal Time. Bit.Trip Runner is exactly what you’d expect if you’ve played it before. If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s a title where you’ll run along a 2D plane and have to jump and kick your way to the end of the stage while collecting the coins. It starts off simple, but quickly ramps up in difficulty. Virtual Meat Boy plays like a Rad Racer, where you’ll run along a trap-infested street and have to perfectly dodge everything coming at you. As the title insinuates, you’ll view the game with a Virtual Boy filter and should you have red and blue 3D glasses, you can use those to view the game in 3D. Lastly is Epic Meal Time. Here you’re presented with a Mortal Kombat “Test your Might” mechanic in which you must rapidly button press to fill up your meter and press the action button after passing the success line to dig in to that food and survive. These mini-games are a ton of fun to play and found myself coming back to Nolan’s Arcade quite often during my downtime.

Upon completing 62 story missions, you can still free roam the city and raise complete carnage. there are also 40+ additional Arcade mode missions to tackle on the side. All the Arcade missions provide a solid challenge and will keep you occupied for some time if you try to achieve a gold medal in each one. There’s also leaderboard support for all of these missions, as well as for the story mode. For those that like to watch replays of their footage, you can save footage of anything you’ve done in-game as well. After completing the story, you’ll unlock “Retro City Rampage Turbo” mode, which greatly accelerates the game’s speed.

When I last review RCR back in 2012, I had mentioned that my main gripe was the unbalanced difficulty curve. With the DX version, the difficulty has been rebalanced to be much less frustrating. That’s not to say the challenge has been removed, but certain missions were absurdly difficult in the original release. The tweaks made here are very noticeable and make progressing through the story much more enjoyable. Also the HUD and camera have been tweaked. In the original, there was a status bar on the top of the screen. Now the layout is much cleaner, removing the bar entirely for more in-game screen space. However, the original status bar can be turned back on in the Options menu. Additionally, the camera has been adjusted to be zoomed-in a bit, bringing you closer to the action. This truly made the gameplay feel even better than it already was. Like the HUD though, you can adjust the camera zoom from between 1x to 3x.

The visuals in RCR DX are absolutely spot-on. The 8-bit style works perfectly here, full of vibrant and detailed sprites, while running at 60 fps. Everything about it screams retro, between its color palette, sprite designs and animations. To make things even more retro and in-depth, there are a ton of visual filters and frames to mix-and-match to your liking. Want an old-school TV frame with scanlines and NES color imaging? You can do that. Want to play the game with a Game Boy frame and color filtering? You can do that too. You can even make the game have SEGA Genesis, Virtual Boy, Black and White, and MS-DOS color filtering! Just toying around with these settings and seeing the different visual styles appearing on-screen is an absolute blast. In terms of audio, you’ve got over 2 and a half hours of 8-bit composed music from Jake “Virt” Kaufman (Bloodrayne: Betrayal, Double Dragon Neon, Shantae), Freddy DNA (NBA Jam) and Norrin Radd. The soundtrack really fits the game perfectly and I could see myself driving around town listening to this. It’s a retro-style soundtrack that’s very memorable.

Retro City Rampage DX takes everything that made the original awesome, and further refines it to perfection. RCR DX oozes of beloved gaming and pop-culture references that is impossible not to smile or chuckle at. The amount of content and features are staggering, but what makes it stand out even more is that it was all done by a single person, not a 600 person studio. Retro City Rampage DX is an absolute must-own title and Switch owners should not dismiss this title by any means.

Overall Score: 10 out of 10 = BUY IT!

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Retro City Rampage DX! Copy reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

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Nintendo and DeNA Form a Partnership and Alliance; Nintendo Mobile Games Incoming



To much surprise to kick off the morning, Nintendo has just announced that they have formed a partnership with mobile developer DeNA. With this partnership announcement, Nintendo is allowing DeNA to create brand new games based on Nintendo’s characters. These new games will be entirely new experiences, crafted around the strengths and aspects of mobile gaming. If you’re expecting to see any of the games released on the 3DS or Wii U platform being ported over, that will not be happening.

Also, Nintendo and DeNA will also be developing an online membership service that remains to be detailed. This service is supposed to integrate an ecosystem between PC, smartphones, tablets, 3DS and Wii U devices. The service is aiming to go live fall of 2015. More details to come in the coming months.

It’s surreal to see Nintendo is entering the mobile platform market, especially seeing that the 3DS is dominating with sales and has a massive install base already. Granted, the mobile market is practically in the hands of a majority of  society, seeing that almost everyone owns a smartphone or tablet. What do you guys think? Would you want to see Nintendo IPs coming to the mobile market or should Nintendo stay apart from that market? Sound off your thoughts in the comments below!

[Source – Press Release E-Mail]

Nintendo’s Digital Event E3 2014 Conference Live Blog

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Worried you might not be able to watch Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference live on June 10th at 12:00 pm EST? No worries, we’ve got you covered here on Gamers Xtreme! We’ll be live blogging the whole event and you, as the community, will be able to interact with us throughout the whole conference! The blog is also mobile friendly so for those of you with smartphones, you’ll be able to still catch every minute of the conference through your phone. Enter your e-mail address below to be reminded of when the event is about to go live and get involved with E3!

Nintendo’s Thanksgiving Deals

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Thanksgiving will be arriving this Thursday, November 28th, and it marks a perfect time for Nintendo to start promoting their hardware aggressively. Nintendo of America has stated its official 3DS and Wii U sale offers for the upcoming holiday and Black Friday. For the 3DS, you will have the new Cobalt Blue standard 3DS Luigi’s Mansion bundle, launching on 11/28 for $169.99. In addition, there are also two retailer-specific offers. Walmart will be selling a 2DS for just $99.96 and Target will be selling a 3DS XL for just $149.99 on 11/29. Lastly, the Wii U will see Nintendo Land bundled with a custom Luigi Wii Remote Plus for $59.99 on 12/2.

(Source – NintendoLife)

Nintendo Combining eShop Credits Across Consoles, and Bringing MiiVerse to New Venues

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Yesterday, Nintendo gamers received a welcome update that combines eShop credit across the 3DS and Wii U systems, but this came with another great piece of information. The Miiverse will finally be coming to the 3DS and 2DS. Miiverse originally launched with the Wii U last year, and a website version was released shortly after. Smartphone apps are currently in the works as well. A Nintendo spokesman had this to say:

“A December system update will allow users to register their Nintendo Network ID for Wii U on their Nintendo 3DS systems and combine Nintendo eShop account balances…this system update will also mark the beginning of Miiverse support on Nintendo 3DS. With a Nintendo Network ID, users will be able to connect with other players around the world to share their experiences and game tips through Miiverse on Nintendo 3DS.”

(Source – NintendoLife)

Wii Sports Club: Tennis Review (Wii U eShop) – “Ace”

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The “#1 best-selling Wii game of all time”, Wii Sports, was a selling point for many to spring to Nintendo’s innovative console. With motion controls being at the heart of the Wii’s experience, Wii Sports enabled a fairly-accurate simulation of a selection of physical activities, including Bowling, Tennis, Baseball, Boxing, and Golf. It was a real hit, and encouraged a lot of gamers to get off the couch and get active. No doubt many were clamoring to have this experience on the Wii U, and after long last, Nintendo have delivered. Dubbed “Wii Sports Club”, the original Wii title’s revival features HD graphics, integrated social features, and online play. Players can even try it free for 24 hours before committing. The question is, is Wii Sports Club worth your time (and money)?

At the time of writing, Wii Sports Club currently features access to Tennis and Bowling. This review will cover Tennis exclusively. Downloading the game will grant you a one-time 24 hour pass for free, allowing you to experience both games for a full day without restriction. After this trial period, players can purchase another 24-hour pass whenever they’re in the mood to play, or can acquire permanent access to any one sport for a more premium fee (about $10). It’s interesting to see Nintendo take this approach, and does provide gamers an option based on how often they plan to play.

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So what do you get for your money? On the whole, Wii Sports Club’s rendition of Tennis doesn’t leave anything behind. Players can choose to play singles or doubles, by themselves or with a friend, and will duke it out on the court until one team reaches 7 points. Wii Sports provided a simple presentation that belied the incredible depth of play, but Wii Sports Club takes this all to the next level. Controls are as slick and responsive as ever, and still allow for ball control and rapid spikes when performed correctly. However, there were times when my WiiMote was just a tad too responsive – my Mii would sometimes take a flying leap and swing at the air when I slowly raised my WiiMote to prepare for a return volley. A quick calibration will fix this though – just place the WiiMote face-down on a flat surface for a few seconds.

Players can now learn the ropes of the game without the trial-and-error approach of the original Wii Sports. A new training mode allows players to practice maneuvers and hone their skills in pre-set scenarios. There’s even a multi-player version of this, allowing you and a few friends or family members to improve your skills together. And once you feel your skills are up to the task, you can choose to undertake a series of trials that will really have you proving your tennis prowess.

One welcome addition is the inclusion of multiplayer. Players can choose to join a “club”, a sort of social team tied to their home region (or any they choose). From here, players can socialize with others and join games against players from any region they choose. The game chooses a random club to be the “rival of the day”, which keeps things fresh. As for entering a match, wait times are extremely short. The game lets you practice hitting tennis balls at targets while you wait, but matchmaking is so quick that I barely had any time to take part in it before being thrust into a game. This is hardly a bad thing, though.

In-game, matches are generally lag-free and perform excellently. Players can choose 3 pre-set messages to assign to the D-Pad, which allows for limited chatting in-game. There’s also the option to choose your greeting at the start of a game, either as text or a hand-drawn image using the Wii U’s GamePad. Players are given 20 seconds to serve when it’s their turn to do so, and letting this timer expire will disqualify the offender. This was a nice forethought, but I got into several matches where the other player would purposely let the clock run down before hitting the ball. Some would argue it’s a legitimate strategy, but I believe a shorter serve timer would have been a good idea. Otherwise, playing online is identical to the Tennis experience present in the original Wii Sports. WiiMote movements are generally very responsive, and the ball will go where you expect it to if you hit it right. Hitting the serve at just the right moment will send the ball blazing towards your opponent, and switching up your serve speed can do a lot to throw your opponent off their game.

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Wii Sports Club: Tennis is more than just a faithful revival of the Wii Sports fave; updated graphics and gameplay features are certainly welcome, but it’s the additional social features and multiplayer options that make the game well worth its price tag. Those looking to relive their Wii glory days, scratch a casual tennis itch, or get into better shape with motion control gaming will find a lot to love in Wii Sports Club: Tennis.

 

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

The Economy Version of The Wii Heading to North America

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The Wii mini is finally arriving in the United States. Nintendo announced the economized version of the Wii will launch in the US for $99.99. Nintendo first released the Wii Mini in Canada last year, and followed with a UK debut this past March. The system is smaller than the original Wii, and comes bundled with Mario Kart Wii. Also included are a Wii Remote Plus controller and Nunchuk, both in red. Sadly, the system lacks some of the core features of earlier versions of the console.

First and foremost, it has no online functionality, so games are limited to local multiplayer options. Nintendo has also removed backward compatibility from the Wii Mini’s feature set, which let it leave out the GameCube gaming feature as well. Finally, the system lacks support for Wii component cables, taking away the ability to output video at a 480p resolution. The highest setting the system can display with be 480i. Is anybody in America going to purchase this system? Sound off below for your thoughts.

[Source – Nintendo PR E-mail]

Nintendo Is In Trouble You Say!? Yeah Right…Because We Haven’t Heard That Before

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For all those people that feel they must continue to bash Nintendo and the Wii U by pointing to financial records and sales figures, here is something that should make you think twice. Just note that this news report was conducted over 23 years ago, and still shows that times have not changed by much. Enjoy the video folks.

Shin’ en’s “FAST Racing NEO” For The Wii U Promises “Next-Gen Visuals”

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Shin’en Multimedia is planning multiple Wii U projects for the upcoming year, and all signs point to a positive relationship between the developer and Nintendo. It’s been confirmed that a successor to WiiWare’s title FAST Racing League has finally been unveiled to a brief extent. Several tweets from the developer has now confirmed FAST Racing NEO for the Nintendo eShop will be coming to the Wii U with a brand new in-game engine. Today, only a basic announcement website has been launched with the above concept art, with a 2014 release promised. The title is being slated for mid-2014 with an emphasis on “next-gen visuals” according to the developers. This company stunned many when it created groundbreaking visuals on the original Wii with Fast Racing League. Fast Racing NEO will take advantage of Shin’en Multimedia’s second generation engine, and could see screenshots and videos of gameplay this week. For more news stay tuned.

[Source – Wii U Daily]

3DS “IronFall” Promising 60 FPS and “Gears Of War” Style Gameplay

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VD-Dev is keeping their latest project for the Nintendo 3DS under a tight veil, but it is already causing quite a stir. The studio is currently developing a title called IronFall, which has garnered much interest since E3. Today co-founder of the studio Fernando Velez dropped a few tantalizing details regarding the technical nature of this new title. The title itself is described as a “Gears of War” style gameplay that will make full use of the 3DS console’s dual-screen layout.  Interestingly enough, stylus control is VD-Dev’s “preferred” interface, however Velez stated that his team will listen to fan feedback and incorporate as many control options as possible. Velez also stated that his team is striving for 60 frames per second with the 3D effect enabled! This accomplishment alone would be an impressive feat. Velez went on to state

“60 frames per seconds is our goal. Shooters offer better playing experience with this frame rate. With the engine we can reach 60 frames per second with and without stereoscopic view. But if frame rate drops we don’t want to sacrifice the amount of AI, and graphics we have on screens, just because of the stereoscopic view (sometime we have to draw 3 screens, 1 for the left eye, 1 for the right eye, and 1 for the bottom screen where action will also take place sometimes. So maybe we will add a feature that allows in REAL TIME, the player to switch from 60 FPS with the 3D slider pushed down, or 30 FPS with 3D slider pushed up (no need to go to some menu).” When asked about the in game engine, he responded “The engine used in Iron Fall is called the ‘Big Bang Engine’. Its an engine we have programmed from scratch and is optimized for the Nintendo 3DS. It took us several months to write (days and nights), and is written fully in assembly code, using all the ARM optimizations we know. We also have written our own graphics driver for communication with the 3DS GPU to get the best of the handled graphics processor. The engine has many features, more on this will be shown on a video available on the 28 October.

Velez spoke briefly about VD-Dev’s future plans, including developing for the Wii U and a possible 3DS sequel:

“We have to finish IronFall on the 3DS, that takes us all our time, the Wii U seems to be wonderful maybe be we’ll work on it one day. If IronFall is successful we want to listen what players like or don’t like about the game, and if they want more we could realize their wish.”

[Source – Nintendo Everything]