A Grand Theft Auto game on PS Vita could well help to pull the troubled handheld out of its current dive into obsolescence.

Till then, there's Retro City Rampage - a lo-fi GTA-'em-up that doesn't just stop with one video game reference - it throws in hundreds for good measure, soaking its hugely varied gameplay in parody from beginning to end.

Ramp it up

You are Player, a henchman who is thrown back in time and so has to find the parts of a time machine scattered around the city so that he can get back home.

Retro City Rampage lays on the references thick and fast. In just the first five minutes of play, I spotted over 20 parodies ranging from video games to movies to music, including Sonic The Hedgehog, Duke Nukem, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This joke-filled approach makes the simplest of missions, such as carting something from A to B, far more entertaining than they might otherwise be, as you genuinely want to both read the dialogue and take in the incidental details such as amusingly named shops, like 'Wonder Hats' (complete with Wonder Cats logo) and 'Gin & Produce'.

But Retro City Rampage isn't all jokes - it backs up this wonderful underlying style with hugely varied gameplay and plenty of side missions.

One moment you'll be hitting the streets GTA-style, and the next you'll find yourself in a Smash TV-alike section, before jumping into a side-scrolling platformer, then diving underwater for some tough enemy-dodging action.

We built this city

Retro City Rampage is rarely dull thanks to this incredible level of variety - and the barrage of side-missions, challenges, and customisation options helps too.

Online leaderboards mean that you'll want to keep going on rampages to top your friends' best scores, while unlocking all the different types of clothes and heads (including some hilarious cameos from real-life video game industry veterans) will keep you going for many hours.

Notably, I've already played the console and PC versions of the game, and the Vita version is definitely the best. Retro City Rampage on the go makes a huge amount of sense, and mowing down pedestrians while on the bus is great fun.

The Vita version brings over the same issues that the other editions had - namely, that the controls are sometimes a little too lax and not tight enough for some of the scenarios you're thrown into.

The game also becomes incredibly frustrating near the end thanks to a sudden ramp-up in difficulty. The last boss in particular had me howling in frustration.

That said, the rest of the game easily makes up for these shortcomings. Retro City Rampage is glorious and downright essential, and easily worth the PSN asking price.

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