Rampage is a game that has always been just out of reach for me. I can remember saving up my 50p pocket money for months on end and combined with Christmas and Birthday I could afford 1 maybe 2 games a year. Rampage was the one I always wanted, but when given the choice of Rampage OR Super Mario 3 it was a relatively easy choice to make as a child.
Even in later life I missed out on Rampage games as I just couldn’t afford that many games and focussed my buying on the “big” releases. It meant that I never bothered with the PlayStation or Nintendo 64 versions of Rampage, and when I *could* afford games in later life I went back and bought the games that mattered to me or I had memories of. The Final Fantasys, the Resident Evils, Mortal Kombats, Road Rash. Basically 500 other games I would rather play again and know I love whereas Rampage slowly became a distant memory that time forgot. So finally stumbling on Rampage at a point where the money wasn’t an issue and I could cash in on the release of a film I didn’t realise was connected, I thought I would finally dive into it.
Rampage is a monster sim/beat ’em up. You take on the role of a giant monster and you’re job is to King Kong your way around and fuck shit up. That’s pretty much it, you climb up the side of a building and punch the building to death in an extended version of the Final Fight/Street Fighter 2 car whomping minigame.
Each level is a static screen, with an ever increasing number of buildings to smash up. But unluckily for you, and I guess proportionate response to your actions, the home guard/military have been drafted in to protect the citizens of the United States and Canada and try to kill you across roughly 100 levels. Depending on the version of the game you are playing each level will have a name or be based in a new place, but as far as I can tell the Master System version is 5 levels in one city, then 5 levels in another all of which look pretty much the same.
Rampage is freaking hard. I can get through the first 6 or 7 levels without dying, but the difficulty then ramps up like it is trying to out jump Mortal Kombat on the difficulty curve. You start off with 100% life, and as you’re hit you lose a tiny almost insignificant amount. But there are ever increasing numbers of dudes shooting you, throwing bombs at you, and firing rocket launchers at you. It means Rampage almost descends into a bullet storm. To counter this, you can eat humans or food items to regain health and this is where the pros will shine, and nubs like me will fail miserably.
Don’t run around and just punch shit. Time your punches. Time your snacks. There is no point eating that human and regain 2% health if you’re about to be shot twice (or more). So there is a skill to it, so don’t expect to breeze through the game in your first few attempts.
George is a giant Gorilla, Lizzie a Lizard, and Ralph is a Werewolf. Sadly they all play the same with no differences between the 3. You’ll probably have a favourite because the choice of Godzilla, King Kong or big Werewolf will always result in a level of favouritism. Me, I’m a Lizzie fan as she is a fucking giant lizard!
Each character has been transformed in a different way story-wise but this doesn’t really affect the game, George was transformed by some dodgy vitamin tablets, Lizzie from a radioactive lake, and Ralph by food additives.
The main negatives come from the fact you have two buttons. Jump and punch, and while you can punch in 45 degree arcs it doesn’t really give you much depth. The d-pad is also a little stiff so for the first hour of you playing you will struggle to stand in the exact pixel spot you need to be in to start ascending a tower meaning you’ll continually take damage as you get ever more frustrated trying to climb the tower.
After that, the biggest negative is the fact the game is VERY repetitive. There are over 100 levels and buy the 15th you feel like you’ve seen them all as while each location will look slightly different, the fact you’re climbing the same 5 buildings in 3 different colours means what you’re looking at never really changes.
All things considered I actually like Rampage. I love to be the bad guy and I love to be allowed to just fuck shit up and Rampage lets you break things by the
bucket skip full. That said though, Rampage is limited, there isn’t much going on and once you’ve seen 15-20 levels you’ve seen the game.
Play it and you’ll have some fun. But the fun will be fleeting.
Pros: Fun, get to fuck shit up
Cons: Pretty basic, and VERY repetitive
Back in the Day:
Rampage scored 6s and 7s across the board.
Also available on: Nintendo, Arcade, Atari Lynx, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, C64, Amiga, Atari ST, Atari 2600, and Atari 7800