Review by Retro

"Sometimes the little things can make a game worthwhile"

After watching such movies as ''Frogs'' and ''The Birds'', I'm a firm believer that animals could take over the world if they really wanted to. In 1988, two monstrous members from the animal kingdom did just that on the NES. George, a gorilla that thinks he's King Kong, and Lizzie, a seemingly mutated lizard that walks on two feet, have decided to take over the land of the free. They will destroy every last skyscraper, bank, and small apartment that rest on each of the big cities of the United States of America. Whether it's the humongous metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, the watery environments of the Great Lakes, or the flatness of Mississippi, George and Lizzie are ready to destroy anything, and anybody that stands in their way.

Before they get their damaging show on the road, the unlikely pair must wait for you, the video game player(s), to decide whether to play a one-player or two-player game; either way, you get to choose which of the two monsters you want to control. Playing two-player allows both you and a friend to wreak havoc on cities at the same time. Or, if you feel like laughing your blank off, you can punch each other from one side of the screen to the other (doing that is more fun than anything else you can do in the game)!

You start off in the state with the biggest population of them all: California. You see a few buildings of differing sizes occupying the landscape. Seeing that both George and Lizzie have a fetish for destroying landmarks, you must use them to climb up the sides of the buildings and punch so many holes in them that they look like a first cousin of Swiss cheese. It takes all of two punches in the same spot to make a hole in any species of building. Once a building has enough holes, it will develop tons of cracks and plummet to the ground, story by story. Once a level doesn't have a single structure that is left standing, you'll go to the next level.

Some stages have four or five huge buildings to do harm to, while others may only have a small bay and a couple of short as a midget apartments. But the gameplay remains the same for the 100+ levels. Your job is to simply destroy each and every building in sight. Once certain states or territories are as flat as a tire with a million nails stuck through it, a map of the good ol' U.S. of A will pop up as either George or Lizzie lands on top of it to shade in the conquered area. Needless to say, there will be a major demand for engineers and construction workers when you get done.

Doing carnage to buildings is very fun, but it could get extremely tedious and boring if it wasn't for the entertaining enemies and items that Rampage throws at you from start to finish. The most common type of enemy is that of the human variety. Whether at work or at home, humanoid characters will be popping their head out of windows and hurling what look to be newspapers that explode at you. Other people will opt to shoot you with a gun or take a picture of the pupils of your eyeball to blind you instead.

Even more damaging and more fun to toy with are the enemies that are on the outside boundaries of the buildings. An old lady in a green dress appears out of nowhere every few minutes carrying a bomb that resembles a birthday cake. She will plant this bomb under one of the buildings; when it explodes, the entire building will crumble and fall no matter how sturdy or fragile it is. From time to time, tanks and police cars that come equipped with neverending firepower will invade the territory that you're in the process of taking over. A parachuting man and lonely storm clouds with falling lightning will attempt to strike you down as the most fun nemesis of them all, the numerous helicopters, hover over you and drop bombs before they dart diagonally shooting hurtful lasers your way.

These two beasts have tore down the bars and broken the chains that humans have kept them captured inside for years. To say the least, they have the power to destroy any and all of these police cars, helicopters, and even fast-moving trains in easy fashion, but they're not immortal. For this reason, you need to consume all the chickens, people, hamburgers, and other tasty edibles that you can. But watch out because not all things are good for you. Would you want to eat a toilet, poison, or a bomb? No, I didn't think so. So why would you want to feed them to your ape or reptilian friend?!

One of the most curious things I've ever seen in my life happens when you lose a life in Rampage. Upon dying, you'll shrink and go from being a hairy ape or spiky lizard to being a human being that's naked as a jaybird. You may think to yourself, ''Damn, I had hundreds of thousands of points and now I died, so my game is over.'' Well, if you let yourself straddle completely off the screen, you may be right. If you're not ready to die or to go back to your day job, you can simply press the B button to magically grow back up and be more full of energy than a six-year-old that just finished drinking a 12-case of Coca-Cola.

The graphics and sounds in Rampage seem very arcade-like for some reason, even though they're not that great in any way. All the characters, landmarks, and backgrounds are drawn and animated well enough, but nothing really sticks out about them; they're about as average as average can get. The cities all look the same; it would've been nice if the familiar Space Needle was seen in the background of Seattle, or if the Golden Gate Bridge or Grand Canyon were somewhere to be seen. The sound effects are the same way. The explosions and crashing of buildings sound somewhat realistic to a degree, but they're not very loud or atmospheric. The music is repetitive and sounds way too distant. You'll need to pucker up your ears to hear the tracks, save for the cheerful music in the bonus levels in which you must scale a single building while punching holes in it to try and locate the magical food that has the power to replenish your energy to its fullest.

While the graphics and sounds might seem a little dull or too average for some people, the controls, fortunately, are right on. I like how you can press up and B to ever so slowly jump up, and how you can press down and B to make short, quick skips as if you're wanting to skip, skip, skip to your lou. Fighting, climbing, and even grabbing a hold of a building while in the middle of your leap is real simple to do.

Rampage can become overly repetitive and lackluster, especially if you're playing it by yourself. Three or more hours of knocking down buildings and coming back alive with unlimited continues (basically, the game has no challenge whatsoever) can prove to be quite a boring experience.

The little things are what I like the most about Rampage. I've found through the years that it's a great game to run to if you're pissed off about something that's happened to you in real life; it's almost like an antidote for frustration. What better way is there to release your anger than to destroy things? And destroying something in real life is pointless. To play a two-player game and beat each other up instead of busting down bricks; to see how many times you and a friend can hit the porthole back and forth; to see an electrical neon sign and go to bust it wide open right away just to laugh at the poor creature you just electrocuted. Those are the little things that make Rampage a fun, and even classic (in its own way) game for the NES.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/03/01, Updated 02/15/03


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