Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Synopsis: When one thinks of great arcade games from yesteryear, it is inevitable that Rampage will be brought up, for any game player worth his salt can tell you about a certain game with giant monsters destroy buildings and eat practically anything.
Though there wasn’t much in the way of plot (as was the trend for arcade games back in the day), the idea that sort of throws things together in the game is that two people (three in the arcade version) are mutated into giant animals for various reasons, and you get to use this to your advantage as you smash up the entire US of A, including Alaska and Hawaii. Nothing beyond that is really explained, except that it apparently takes you 128 days to completely demolish the country.
Each level is a day, which means that there are a total of 128 levels of pounding the pavement, eating things, and destroying every building in sight. In order to fit that many levels into an early NES cartridge, the levels have only small variations on each other. These variations mainly consist of things such as trees appearing in the foreground, mountains or buildings in the background, and small bodies of water on the ground. The water also serves as a hazard because for some reason, the giants cannot float in any way. What this means is that when you land in the water, your character impotently sticks their hand out of the water to show where they are, and then their life bar starts to shrink. Climbing out of the water only stops the reduction of life, which leads me to believe that these almighty giants are actually just a pair of water-soluble sissies.
After several stages, you are treated to a little view of the giant lizard dropping down onto a map of the US, and then proceeding to punch at whatever state you are said to have just completed until it turns completely black. While you aren’t really shown which state you are currently in, you may be able to guess based upon the city names given to each of the levels, depending upon how well you know the states. It only takes a day for you to destroy a city, which seems really short, but is even shorter when you consider that each city has only a handful of tall buildings in it. Plus, every few days, you will get a bonus stage that is just a single building. It may not seem like much, but since there is only one, you can focus more on searching it carefully for powerups. Well, it’s not technically “searching carefully” since you’re still punching holes in the damn wall, but you do it at a slightly more relaxed pace.
Of course, where would a game of Godzilla and King Kong-ian proportions be without the perfunctory helicopters and such buzzing about? For the first part of the game, your main enemies will be such helicopters, as well as hapless army folks running all over the place, hanging out of windows, shooting and throwing things at you. Since those little guys are bite-sized, they provide a healthy snack that will boost your life a little bit and rid you of a pesky idiot trying to bring you down with a mere pistol. Later, however, you start to encounter tanks, which are easily subdued, but fire shells that can knock you off of buildings with ease. This is quite a problem, as falling will cause you great amounts of damage. Also, the weather itself will turn sour, as bolts of incredibly deadly lightening streak out single clouds passing overhead.
To satisfy your constant hunger, and to keep you alive through a hail of gunfire, there is numerous health powerups contained within each building. The most common of such are the different kinds of food, from coffee to a fully baked turkey. To get the powerups, however, you have to punch a hole in the building, and since each building can only take so many hole-punchings, you have to be ready to jump off to avoid a nasty, uncontrolled fall. Plus, there are some food elements, such as toilets and light bulbs, which will hurt you if you eat them, so it is even more important for you to be careful when tearing open a building.
Now, throughout the review, I’ve talked about things that can kill you can how to stay alive. In all seriousness, this is not too big of a deal. This is because, no matter what the circumstance, you can always come back to life; there is not a limited number of lives or continues. Once your health is completely drained, you transform back into a man if you chose the ape, or a woman if you chose the lizard. Since they return to their human form naked, they will hide their shame and carefully shuffle off the screen. If you choose to press start before they leave the screen, they’ll mutate back into giants again and continue rampaging. If you press start after they leave, they’ll be delivered onto the scene on a blimp and your score will be reset. If you are playing the game with two players, once the other character dies, you can go over and eat them before they turn back into a giant again. This gives your monster a nice life boost, plus, your monster will grin sheepishly at the camera, silently mocking the other player.
Unfortunately, this being one of the earlier games for the NES, the music selection is quite weak. Each monster has his/her own song that will play ad nauseam through each stage. Only the other two songs break the monotony of the music: one for the big map, and one for the bonus stages.
The sound effects are also pretty weak, being nothing more than grainy explosions and beeps of sorts. I just can’t believe that in a game with both a giant ape and a giant lizard, there was not one monkey howl or one lizard hiss.
Overall, you’d probably be better off getting the arcade version. The NES is great, but the early conversions of arcade games were somewhat lacking. Still, being able to destroy towns can be cathartic, no matter what kind of graphic or musical difference there may be. On that note, HULK SMASH!
Best Cheats: Water skipping - When you jump off a building and you're about fall into water press Up, B and you will skip off the water. You can also do this to get on buildings by pressing Up, B.
Game Play: 10
Overall Rating: 7
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