Rampage was originally developed by Midway and released in the Arcades in 1986. It allowed you to take control of Lizzie the Lizard (based off Godzilla) and George the Gorilla (a King Kong rip off) and smash down down buildings, inspired by monster movies of an earlier era.
The arcade version featured a third werewolf character, but it was omitted from the 1988 NES port. Generally speaking the thought of taking control of such classic characters and wreaking havoc across America’s metropolitan skylines sounds rather appealing. So does it live up to it’s promise?
The object of the game is to destroy ever major city in America by climbing buildings, and punching them till they crumble to the ground. Sadly, that’s is the entire object of the game. Climb, punch, repeat, through 128 cities. During your travels you’ll face armed civilians, military helicopters, cop cars, and even tanks, that try to stop you from smashing everything, but ultimately, you just punch them down as well, and continue with the destruction.
That’s not to say there isn’t some fun to be had here. The controls are responsive enough, allowing you to jump and punch, and in a weird way you do feel like you are controlling a big, slow, clumsy monster. As you punch buildings items will appear that will give you points, or hazards that take away from your life bar. But with unlimited continues and limited obstacles, there is almost no challenge at all.
Thankfully, this game does support 2-players, and saves this game from being completely forgettable. With 2-players, you now have an objective, beat your opponent’s score. You can do this with more strategic building smashing as well as disrupt your opponent by punching them off buildings. Getting through all 128 levels is still an exercise in futility (and a giant waste of time if I’m honest), as the game barely changes from level to level. Adding in 3-player support with Ralph the Werewolf would have been a welcome addition.
Graphically, Rampage on the NES is a below par. The screen is static and never moves, the buildings are generic, and the monsters lack any real detail. Compared to other titles on the NES in 1988 (Bionic Commando, Double Dragon, Contra, etc) it looks downright primitive. The animation is also fairly average, with minimal frames for each action. To it’s credit, there is no slow down and no flickering, but that’s to be expected.
The music follows suit, with just a single instrument with varying tones humming along in the background (which is more than the arcade version, but still disapointing). The explosions sounds are on par with an Atari 2600 game with simplistic static noises representing the crumbling buildings our yours monster’s first crushing the brick walls. And that's about all there is to say from a technical perspective.
I wish I had more to write about Rampage but it’s such a small game there is not a whole lot to say.
Overall, Rampage for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a mediocre port of the arcade game, and is fairly uninspired overall. While there is some limited fun to be had in multi-player mode it largely falls flat. The drab graphics and limited sound add up to an unfulfilled experience. There are better monster-smash-building games out there, save your two bucks.
Game play 4/10 - Responsive controls, repetitive slow game play
Graphics 3/10 - Bland and boring
Sound 2/10 - Uninspired soundtrack, Atari 2600 style sound effects
Overall 3/10 - The 2-player mode saves this from being awful