Rampage: World Tour: Gameboy Color

Bash This Game!
I loved "Rampage" when it first hit the arcades in 1986 (back when Coke was still 5 cents a bottle and leeches were the common cure for most ailments). Here was a video game that broke all the rules: YOU got to be the monster, smashing up buildings, punching helicopters out of the sky, staving off the feds from shrinking you back down to your puny human self. You even got points for gobbling innocent civilians! I remember thinking to myself as a young lad, "How brilliantly sardonic!" Okay, maybe I was thinking more like, "Du-huh that's pretty funny." Whatever, you get the point. The game had attitude.

I therefore hoped the new portable version, Midway’s “Rampage: World Tour” for Game Boy Color, would be my salvation during a 16-hour road trip I’d recently been conned into. And while the mini-Rampage did indeed have some elements of the classic game, it failed to keep my interest long enough to prevent heinous acts of road rage on the Pennsylvania Turnpike…

Virtual Urth ratings (1-5):
Buck Value: 2
Gameplay: 2.5
Originality: 1
Sound: 3
Availability: NOW!
Final Verdict: 47% “Gotta catch Monica on The Larry King Show”

The Good…
If you like breaking and punching stuff – and really, who doesn’t? – this game can be fairly fun, at least initially. You play one of the three classic Rampage characters: Lizzy the Godzilla-alike, Ralph the Wolfman-looking dude, or George, the ape formerly known as Kong. The choice between monsters is strictly aesthetic; there’s no difference in speed or strength between them (too bad).

Your monster racks up points by being as destructive as possible. You break windows looking for food or power-ups while avoiding poison, toilets, rubber-duckies, and other objects (some of which are drawn too obscurely to know what the heck they’re supposed to represent). After razing all the buildings in one town, you’re rewarded with another city to destroy.

Jumping up and down on a building is a quick way to bring it down, and a cool-looking effect. Explosions and flames also look fantastic on the Game Boy Color. Another nice touch is that the pedestrians you eat actually scream… albeit in a very MIDI-sounding way.

The gameplay presents a couple of nice trip-ups for your monster. There are tough little tanks that require three punches to destroy. And there are airborne flame-thrower guys (“flying toasters” they’re called) who are really difficult to catch, but pretty simple to avoid. For the most part though, this game is less about challenge and more about mind-numbingly repetitive destruction. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But even senseless violence should serve some purpose (in a video game), such as beating your friends, topping your own high score, or reaching new and uncharted territory. “Rampage: World Tour” has none of these incentives, making the replay value non-existent.

The Bad…
A major problem with this game is that it’s only one-player. The Game Boy can of course handle multiple players, and Rampage has traditionally been a multiplayer game, so it just seems lazy not to have included a two-player feature. Besides, the coolest part of the arcade game was when your friend wandered too close to your side of town and you pummeled him silly! There’s no chance of that happening in this version, which is a shame.

Also hurting this game’s “replayability” is the redundant look of the levels. Sure, there’s a quasi-Parliament Building and Big Ben in London, and one sort-of Spanish style townhouse in Barcelona, but for the most part all the other buildings look exactly the same from town to town. Venice, Italy, is indistinguishable from Gary, Indiana, which I’m quite sure is not the case in the real world (although I’ve never been to Gary). This is worsened by the solid blue sky behind all the buildings on every level. It’s boring. No background cityscape, no clouds, no nothin’. No interest in reaching the next level.

…And The Just Plain STUPID!
The back of the Rampage box claims: “They Can’t Be Stopped!” And it’s true, because this game goes on FOREVER. Whenever your monster exhausts all power and reverts back to human form, you simply hit “continue” and your guy is revived and revitalized. And there’s no limit to how many times you can hit continue! This renders the score pointless. The game keeps going and going, until your eyes blur and your hands writhe in arthritic agony.

‘Unlimited continues’ is just poor game design when it comes to home video games. It works fine in the arcades, where kids are naturally limited to how many quarters they can grub. Then the challenge becomes making each quarter last as long as possible. [My cousin Joey, when he was in 7th grade, sunk $11,000 worth of quarters into Rampage over a six-month period. And that was in 1988 dollars! That Joey, he’s frickin’ crazy.] In the non-arcade versions, the challenge should be in getting to the next level. You should start with only, say, 4 or 5 lives, plus maybe find some bonus-life pills along the way. Or something! The game needed to be way more difficult. Instead, this “World Tour” is just a tedious trip that could turn even the most mild-mannered of gamers into a road-raging maniac.

If you’re six years old — or if losing at video games makes you seriously doubt your own self-worth — then this game is for you. Otherwise, spend your $30 on something more worthwhile, like in quarters at the arcade.

This game breaks all the rules… in the wrong ways. I mean, if you can’t lose, how can you win? As 19th Century Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once asked, “How can you have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”

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