Release Your Inner Animal
Rampage: Total Destruction for the Nintendo Wii, is a halfhearted attempt by Midway to revive an all but forgotten arcade classic. Unfortunately, former token-feeding glories have not been realized. The re-release of the title on the Wii has gamers scratching their heads wondering what Midway was thinking after such a dismal display on the PS2 and GameCube. The answer is simple. Nintendo’s Wii, with its unique control scheme, is seen as a cure-all for any title no matter how poor the production values are. This is simply not the case, and never has there been a more clear demonstration of this, than Rampage: Total Destruction.
The game’s controls are incredibly clunky. It is imperative that you play this game with the Nunchuk attachment. Trying to play with the Wii-mote alone will drive you bonkers. You will have absolutely no precision and will feel completely useless. The motion controls were hurriedly added to the title, and are basically broken. If you add the Nunchuk, then you will be able to control your character with a modicum of success, but it will still feel awkward. Subsequently, the only motions you will make with the Wii-mote are to wave the controller forward and backward, and from side to side. Your character will then smash cars or swipe up people accordingly. These motions become very repetitive after a short while and may make your wrist sore after just a few minutes of play.
This game is not awful, but it is mediocre at best. The basic concept of the game is a solid one. You play as a human who has been mutated into a city-stomping, tourist-munching, S.W.A.T. team swatting animal. We, as gamers, love to spread wanton destruction and to leave a swath of death and charred remains in our path. Unfortunately, the execution and design is so flawed that the title was never given a chance by the development team at Pipeworks Software. This is frustrating to an old school gamer like me. Rampage was always one of my very favorite arcade games as a youngster. It was one of the very first cooperative titles ever developed. Three players could stand side by side and join together, while wreaking havoc across a variety of venues. The original arcade was a sensation that had the 80’s gaming faithful pumping quarters into its slots, one after the other. Regrettably, all of the charm and novelty of the original is lost upon the console versions. The Wii edition, disappointingly, is no exception. This game could have been really fun if it hadn’t been simply ported over from the GameCube with only very minor additions. If a genuine effort would have been made to honing in on the Wii-mote controls and creating more interesting and varied challenges, then Nintendo could have had another top selling title at launch. Sadly, the suits at Midway were devoid of vision, and the skimpy production budget is evident.
The graphics are simple. There is nothing next generation about this title. In fact, the game looks like it was downloaded from the Virtual Console. The people, objects, and buildings are all blocky and pixilated. The animated appearance of the title is true to the original, but seems dated rather than nostalgic. The sound effects, music, and voiceover work all follow suit. They are simple and crude. Some of the comments made by the helpless people you eat are funny, but they get old quickly. For example, it is common for the same wise crack to be triggered whilst reaching into windows for a snack three times in a row. The belching and the roaring is so incessant and monotonous that it will become white noise. The sound quality overall is truly rudimentary and adds nothing to the title.
The multiplayer portion of the game is the only way to go. Rampage is a silly game where objectives are secondary to goofing around. It’s fun to play with a buddy and see who can eat the most people. There are also two specific multiplayer modes: king of the city and king of the world where you can play with up to three other friends. These modes are almost exactly the same as the main story, except that you win by scoring the most points. You can throw punches and drop jump kicks on your matesor even try and knock them off the building tops, but don’t expect any Tekken or Virtua Fighter complexity. This is the Pong of multiplayer fighters. Overall, multiplayer action is only marginally better than the single player campaign. Playing solo is painfully easy and a real yawner. It is so undemanding that it’s really only fun when shared with friends. As a matter of fact, I was able to play through the first three cities without ever dying. It wasn’t until I got to Dallas that I lost my first life, and that was because I got bored and wanted to see if my character would shrink back into human form like in the original. Thankfully, it did, and the character proceeded to slink off the screen naked, covering his privates. This was an authentic detail, but the difficulty level is a stark departure from the original. The arcade version was very challenging, albeit a pure button masher. The sheer quantity of small arms fire, helicopters, and C4 toting infantry in the arcade put a hurt on you quickly. Lamentably, this is not the case in Rampage: Total Destruction. The game can easily be beaten in a matter of hours.
There are a number of unlockables in this game. For instance, you are given a series of challenges to complete in addition to destroying all city blocks before the time limit. Some of the challenges will have you eat a certain number of people, or have you find hidden items within the buildings. If you do so, then you will be rewarded with a black orb which will unlock new moves. You can also find new characters along the way. The addition of new characters was nice, but added nothing new in the way of playability. All of the characters played the same and I found myself always choosing the original three monsters; George, Lizzie, and Ralph. Some additional content has been added to the Wii version. You can actually unlock both the original Rampage and Rampage: World Tour. This is nice for the nostalgia factor, but all three games are pretty much exactly the same.
All in all, this game was fun for a couple hours of diversion. This was not a title that ever needed to be re-made however. If you never picked this game up you wouldn’t be missing anything. If you were an old Rampage buff, it may be worth picking it up second hand to add the original Rampage to your gaming library. Otherwise, give this game a pass.