One of the beauties of being an indie studio is the ability to experiment; there is a freedom to development as there are no true limitations. The game can become a total fan service to the developers themselves. Brian Provinciano of VBlank Entertainment took the time to sit down with us recently and discuss this very fact. His title Retro City Rampage is a culmination of various pop culture references and game design mash-ups that merge into a totally unique game. We were given the opportunity to test it out and loved what we saw.

For the uninitiated, Retro City Rampage parodies the open-world action genre combining dozens of game mechanics into an 8-bit game. The game has a beautiful sense of humor, lampooning an entire era of movies, games and pop culture. Players take on the role of THE PLAYER, an anti-hero, who signs up as a henchman for a local crime syndicate. But things go chronically awry and he must soon defeat the EVIL GOOD GUYS, who will stop at nothing to end his RAMPAGE OF DOOM.

At its very core the game is Grand Theft Auto distilled back to its basic most fun elements. Imagine all the car jackings, weapons and chaos, without the constant driving from point A to B. Retro City Rampage is about bringing control back to the players. All too often, modern games have become watered down by gimmicks used to inflate their game length. In many games missions are strategically placed annoyingly far apart creating hours of travel time wandering levels. Other developers seem more interested in making movies with hours of cut scenes that encompass almost all of the exciting moments. Retro City Rampage intentionally avoids both of these issues focusing on the gameplay.

Only partially complete, we were only able to play the first few segments, but everything we have played was tremendous. The main story is extremely fast paced and permeated with pop culture references ranging from Saved by the Bell, to Frogger, to Back to the Future. By the time the end screen had come up, an hour or so had passed without any knowledge on our part. The controls were extremely tight and enjoyable. Both the driving and combat segments worked incredibly well.

After the main missions we checked out the games numerous side missions where players are tasked with completing various goals ranging from running over hundreds of people to causing ultimate destruction with a rocket launcher. It was great to be able to just start the mission from a level select screen at will vs. having to travel around the games world to find the right location. That being said, the game’s world is full of personality as players will notice dozens of references and unique features within the game that will make them want to explore on their own. We don’t want to ruin the surprise, but expect to see a few fun surprises including the Ninja Turtle’s van.

In the end, the game oozed personality. It very clear the game would be funny, but after our hands on with the game it became incredibly clear it would be fun as well. With an incredibly beautiful 8-bit art style and classic chiptune music the game looks to be the whole package, especially for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. Expect the game to launch for Xbox Live Arcade later this summer.