Rampage Review





Developer: Midway Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1988 Also On: NES

This game brings back fond memories to me. I remember first experiencing it at this old pizza shop/arcade when I was about seven years old. Every time I drive by that empty shell of a store I remember this game. It was such an entertaining title that when I heard it was released for the NES, I had to pick it up. It was a terrible disappointment, one of the worst arcade-to-home conversions ever. I had heard Rampage was also released for the Master System around the same time, but didn’t get a chance to play it until about two years ago. It was too long of a wait.

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As soon as the title screen comes in you’ll be impressed. Quite a show to put on for just the opening, brought me right back to the arcade. Bright colors and tons of detail. In the game proper, you’ll find just the same sort of glory as the opening. Very well done, the colors are utilized well throughout with excellent animations, even on the teeny tiny citizens. The backgrounds are basically the same over and over, but that’s how it was in the arcade, so I’m not going to drop the score at all. A little more variety in the buildings would have been nice, but again, this is a straightforward conversion.

Rampage has excellent sound. The effects sound almost just like the arcade and the music is wonderfully rendered considering the Master System’s poor sound chip and even placing it aside they’re still good. Though the tune repeats, it’s very catchy and I didn’t find it annoying. I can’t remember if there were any different tunes in the original, but I still feel they’re good regardless. I was humming the main music track throughout the week after I first ran through this title. I’ve heard my wife humming it too.

Anyone familiar with this game will find the gameplay just the same as the arcade, with all three characters to choose from. The NES version only gave you two, which was a disappointment because the one I always used, and which I seem to remember everyone else using if they could, wasn’t there, Ralph the wolf beast. Just have to have him. In this version he’s there for you and I made sure to pick him right off the bat. Along with him, of course, you have Lizzie the lizard beast and George the giant ape.

Basically, you have to destroy every building in each scene to progress. There are ten cities in total around the country with five landscapes each, making a total of fifty levels overall. Much, much better than the three hundred and sixty-five (no joke) levels on the NES. I believe this is the original design from the arcade, but I never beat that version so I’m not sure. Seems to be though. In order to smash the buildings, you have to climb onto them and can smash into them or diagonally. You can also smash into buildings that are behind one you may be climbing on. Sometimes, these little soldiers with dynamite come along to bust any buildings you haven’t gotten to yet.

That’s the basic concept, but you also have tons of little soldiers, helicopters and different characters running about. Some of them you have to just destroy, but others you can eat to get your energy back. You’ll need to do this often as a barrage of bullets and bombs come from everywhere. Add this to different obstacles like lightning, electric signs, faulty bridges and the like and you’ll lose your life pretty fast if you’re not careful. Lose it all and you shrink back into human form and lose a life. There are three special characters as well, and if you manage to grab one instead of eating them, you’ll rack up points as you hold onto them. Other than that it’s pretty simple.

The gameplay can tend to get a bit repetitive, but that’s how it always was in the arcade. It’s a lot of fun with two players, so I suggest trying that aspect of it. I’m still going to score a bit lower because of the repetition. Conversion or not, it could get on some players’ nerves. However, it’s not a very difficult game, so it’s still a lot of fun aside from this.

Rampage was a very creative game for its time. It took the classic “movie monster” and made it into a game adding all the buildings and so forth that you so know you would destroy if you were giant. It was really an ingenious idea and plays quite well. They did an excellent job with this conversion, and it’s really worth a look just for the concept alone. There has never been another game of its kind.

I’ve played this title several times and will definitely do so again. It’s a real nice title for two players with plenty of stuff to do, though it does repeat itself often. It’s something I have fond memories of, so it’s good I have a way to remember it without sacrificing too much in the graphics department, or the sound. Thank you Sega, no thanks to your offering, Nintendo.

This is without a doubt the best Rampage conversion I have ever played. I don’t remember too much about the original, but this game seems to capture everything almost exactly. It’s yet another reason to give the Master System another look and if you’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to actually see the NES version the entire way through, this is just the remedy you need. It’s not a perfect game, but it’s definitely good.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.5
Written by Stan Review Guide

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