The characters are off-model, but look! The box is blood-red instead of white!
Europe wasn’t as enthused about the two-mega power.
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
DEVELOPER: Bally Midway (port by Sega)
RELEASE DATE: 1988 (US and EU)
Does destroying buildings, eating the military, and being a giant 20-ft tall mutant werewolf really make one a monster? According to Rampage and unflappable human logic, yes. In the game, however, the monsters are not to blame. George, Lizzie, and Ralphie are three ordinary humans turned monsters via scientific experiment. The half-man, half-beasts are then carted around to all the major cities – San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. – and released by mad scientists eager to see the fall of the country. The results are the same everywhere: women screaming, pickup trucks careening, and terrible indigestion due to overconsumption of humans.
“This looks like a good place for my fist to set up camp.”
But if society is meant to collapse, you might as well make the best of it. Take control of the monkey, the werewolf, or the lizard and get to smashin’. The goal is to destroy every building in the stage and leave with your health and beastly dignity. Each city you visit has five stages. The further into the stages you go, the more buildings to destroy and the more battalions sent out to take you down. In order to level the buildings, climb onto them and punch them to bits. Once you’ve damaged approximately thirty-three percent of the building, it will crumble and collapse; make sure to jump off of it before it does, lest you take damage. Speaking of damage: everything in this game wants to hurt you. Along with tanks, helicopters, and renegade photographers, army men shoot out of the buildings at you. Be sure to eat as many as you can to get their rich, tasty courage. After you take down all five stages of San Francisco, you automatically move to Los Angeles, then Las Vegas, Dallas, etc. until you’ve decimated all fifty levels/every major metropolis in the country.
George deserves better than walking naked through a war-torn city.
The Master System version of Rampage replicates the cartoony feel of the arcade version, though the sprites aren’t quite as sharp. The same dusky blue background lingers over every stage; apparently George, Lizzie, and Ralph only get their smash on at night? The arcade didn’t have any music, only sound effects. The Master System version has both, and while the music is serviceable, it doesn’t supply any atmosphere. The controls are clumsy. Getting your monster to latch onto the building can be an arduous affair, particularly when bullets and TNT are being thrown at you from every which way.
George, weary of fighting, considers ending it all.
Even if the controls were perfect and you could scale and smash with the greatest of ease, the fifty monotonous levels will wear you down fast. The gameplay never changes from the first level to the fiftieth. Destroying buildings is your lot in life and Rampage asks you to embrace it with both fists. None of the cities look different from each other either. Imagine tackling the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Or chewing on the Hollywood sign in California. Forget that. You’ll be hitting the same brown buildings whether you’re in Dallas, Detroit, or Philadelphia. The tedious gameplay might satisfy ten-year-olds eager to destroy something or nostalgia-heads stuck in 1988. For the rest of us, Rampage is a retro novelty, one that’s only gotten more tedious with time.