Sometimes a game comes along that really grabs you and wants to be played. It’s been a while for me to be honest, but finally, that game has come along and it’s not a big budget AAA title from some well known developer.
A few years back a little gem of a game launched on last gen systems called Retro City Rampage. A GTA classic style game made in a classic 8-bit style that was filled with chaos and pop culture references, mixing a GTA style with a healthy spattering of different game styles mixed in (sort of like mini-games).
Fast forward to now and Developers V-Blank has treated the follow up like a game on new hardware. You just have to go back to the 90s for that hardware as the title looks like something you would play on a Super Nintendo system. Everything from the sprite work to the colour pallet just looks like it has come from that system. Even the soundtrack reminds you of that era, great sounding midi tracks are the order of the day here and they really do fit the game well.
Now the game is played kind of like the old GTA games, however, the camera is not quite top down, instead, it’s more isometric. Personally, I find this a great view for the title as there has been a lot of effort put into this sprite work and it deserves to be shown off. In what is obviously a nod to GTA you play as three characters in this game, you will switch between a CEO in the cusp of losing his business, his deadbeat son and his lackie. The gameplay on offer is a refined version of what was found on Retro City Rampage. The shooting, driving and general controls feel better than RCR and they have added more elements to the mix like character customisation and explorable buildings.
The biggest change to the game from RCR is the property management side of things. As you progress in the game you are able to buy businesses on the island to not only make more money but to open up more gameplay options like car reposition and fraud. This is actually a really fun side of the game and it really adds value to the title.
Although the game isn’t quite as mental as RCR, it still offers lots of fun different game styles mixed through the GTA style of play. The title is also pretty funny with many of the jokes being pretty meta and on point with today’s society and technology we consume and how we consume it. I have touched on it already but I need to again. The graphics are stunning.
Some people may look at sprite work and turn their nose up at it, but it really is fantastic. The character designs look great, the animations are all well done and the gameplay is butter smooth with no glitching or issues, even during the most intense of action.
I absolutely love Shakedown Hawaii. Yes, you can see it’s from the makers of RCR as soon as you play it and some of it feels similar, but the same could be same about any GTA game. Just like those games however, it takes the elements of the first game and builds on them and improves it going into the next title. I really don’t think anyone could buy this game and not have fun, since it looks good, sounds good and plays great.
There really was nothing I disliked about Shakedown Hawaii and I can’t wait to see what the developer does next. I’d love to get a GTA 3 style scenario where there are two sequels built on this style of game, before moving to the next “gen” that the developer decides to tackle (which will hopefully be based on a 32-Bit style).
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*