Genre: Action Developer: Sega Ent. Publisher: Activision/Sega Enterprises Players: 1-2 Released: 1989
The original Rampage arcade game was a game that you either loved or hated. I remember first playing it in the late ’80s when my two friends’ parents took us out to an arcade, and it was probably the game we played the most. There was nothing quite like it at the time for me. We had a blast playing it, and it was the game that we played the most that night. We never knew it appeared on a home console (ignorance is bliss, right?) until sometime later when I played it on the NES, which I thought was a lousy version of the game. Needless to say, Rampage appeared on about every console and home computer of the day including the Sega Master System, which I’m taking a look at in this review.
If you’re unfamiliar with how the game works, then you need to crawl out from under your rock and enjoy some classic gaming for once, but I digress. Rampage has you take control of one of three King Kong or Godzilla-sized monsters who were used as guinea pigs in an experiment gone wrong and transformed into large beasts. You’re out for revenge by destroying every skyscraper in sight throughout many of the cities in the United States. You take control of George the ape, Lizzie the lizard, or Ralph the wolf and have to play through ten cities with five stages each for a total of 50 stages (unlike the arcade original’s 50 cities and 150 stages total). Fans of the series will be happy to know that the Sega Master System version, programmed by Sega itself, is considered by many to be the best version released for 8-bit consoles and computers. This port has all three characters included and can be played with two players simultaneously who can either work together or fight it out and beat the tar out of each other.
Rampage suffers from one large flaw – something present in any version available – and that’s repetitiveness. I played this with my friend Russ, and we managed to see all fifty stages and the ending. We were getting tired of it by the end, and he wanted to turn it off as it was getting boring, but I knew we were close to the end. So, we stuck it out and were happy we did, as it has a short but charming ending, and we both agreed that it was worth finishing at least once. Rampage is a game that’s mindless fun for at least a while and is a good time-killer, even if you don’t plan to finish it. It’s a great “pass the controller” game at a classic gaming party.
George, Lizzie, and Ralph look great here and have a ton of detail especially with a s-video modded console. They almost look 16-bit and are full of detail and animation. Unfortunately, the stages don’t fare as well, as each and every one of them look the same as the last. All the buildings are the same throughout, making the game feel rushed in that regard. It would really have improved things if they had created different buildings for each city that you destroy. The enemies, which are people, tanks, and helicopters, look decent here but show up really small in the game. Perhaps this is to be expected, and thankfully they fare much better than the backgrounds. Unfortunately, they aren’t enough to break up the repetitive visuals as a whole. I happen to have a modded console that outputs FM synth, and we both decided that Rampage’s background theme was really nice and quite catchy, though it’s the only tune in the game aside from the title theme. It repeats throughout the whole game, but it’s a theme that I’d love to have in a video game music playlist on my iPod. The standard PSG version, which is what most of you’ll hear, does just fine as well if you don’t have a modded system. The sound effects, on the other hand, are weak and come off as nothing more than an afterthought and really needed work. Most sound like generic “thuds,” and many of the sound effects are just missing.
Despite some nice music and initial enjoyment, Rampage leaves a lot to be desired. It, as well as many other ports of the game, lost too much when it was ported to home consoles. The three monsters had their own attributes in the arcade, but they are simply carbon copies of the others here, which also hurts the game in the end. When it’s all said and done, Rampage is a decent game to have in your collection, as it’s dirt cheap, common, and fun in short bursts. That being said, it isn’t going to win any awards or appear on anyone’s top lists of games for the Sega Master System. That’s a shame, as I could easily see the potential if the programmers had really gotten creative. Personally, I’m glad I have it just for the nostalgia alone.
SCORE: 6 out of 10