Retro City Rampage - The 21 coolest retro references


References: Metal Gear

The Metal Gear series is currently famous for its dense scripts, but in its first US release it was famous for all the wrong reasons. It suffered from particularly poor translation, including the incredibly nonsensical, I FEEL ASLEEP! We expected RCRs early Metal Gear mission to reference it in some way, and it didnt disappoint.

Flat frogs

References: Frogger

This one needs basically no explanation, since the in-game dialogue makes it particularly obvious. Instead, well use this entry to ask an important question: Why does falling into water kill a frog?

Get a life

References: Super Mario Bros

Unless youre a total neophyte to gaming, you dont need us to tell you the game over screen in RCR looks a lot like the start screen in Super Mario Bros. Except in RCR, it works in reverse. You have unlimited lives, so the counter keeps track of how many times youve died, which is a little mean when you think about it.

Supersonic crosswalk

References: Sonic The Hedgehog

For the most part RCR limits its love to the 1980s and 8-bit, but occasionally some early 90s reference and even some 16-bit games find a way in. Thats the case with your first power-up, a pair of super-fast shoes that your boss stole from the green hills. We dont think we need to explain the rest for you, right?

A winner is you!

References: Pro Wrestling

We hate having to do a tutorial twice, but at least RCR made the second lesson in gun use a warm reminder of the heyday of digital wrestling. The ring in the level could be a reference to just wrestling in general, but the layout of the arena seems to close the NES gem Pro Wrestling to not be intentional.

Dont forget your helmet

References: Skate or Die

You could just steal any old car to get around, but wouldnt you rather be totally tubular and get ride on a gnarly board, dude? Its easy if you find the skate shop known as Skate n Buy, a cute pun on one of the earliest extreme sports titles in gaming history.

Great Scott!

References: Back to the Future

Time travel figures prominently to the main storyline, with protagonist PLAYER constantly collecting items to help a scientist rebuild a time machine. The peculiar old man that built the time machine looks and talks just like Christopher Lloyds Doc Brown from Back to the Future, so wed catch this reference even if he didnt own a DeLorean.

Wonder, wonder hats

References: Thundercats

Its the Thundercats logo on a hat store. Thats the joke.

East vs West

References: Every Data East game

Now a distant memory, once upon a time Data East was one of the biggest third party publishers around. They made dozens of games in the 80s, including Bad Dudes, Burger Time, and Bump n Jump. Instead of picking one game, RCR instead chose to reference its distinct logo on one of its buildings.


References: Bil & Teds Excellent Adventure

Before the protagonist switches over to a time travelling Delorean, he stumbles upon a most excellent phone booth. At first our geek senses told us it was a Doctor Who reference, but the real reference was quickly made clear when the star threw two bodacious dudes out of the time machine. Bonus retro point for having the inside of the time machine a modified NES.

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.