In a way, it feels a bit churlish to have a crack at Retro City Rampage: DX for being clunky. It is, after all, an homage to times when gaming was clunky, when it lacked some of the sophistication we expect from our entertainment nowadays.
But it is a little on the clunky side. And when coupled with touchscreen controls, it's even clunkier. That's not to say it's not an enjoyably archaic experience. It's littered with nods, winks, references, and Easter eggs.
And it's clearly made by someone with a real love not just about the old days of gaming, but for popular culture as well. So while there are times you'll groan at the controls, you'll probably have a smile on your face too.
It's basically the original GTA yeah?
Sort of. It's almost a demake. It's scratchier, more raw, and looks like it would run quite happily on a NES. But yes, you're running around a top-down city, shooting people, stealing cars, and generally being a menace to society.
There are additions though. Like a jump button and a cover system. And there's a knowing irreverence that pushes you in completely different directions.
In the first hour you'll be drowning in Metal Gear, Back to the Future, and Bionic Commando references. To name but a few.
And it has a lot of fun with it. Sure you're mowing down pedestrians and getting in scraps with cops, but there's a thrust to proceedings that means it always feels like there's something else to discover.
You control your character with a stick and some buttons. It's a little fiddly, but it's certainly not the worst system that we've seen on iOS.
The driving is a little crankier, especially when you're trying to avoid the attention of the cops. There are two options. One gives you a few buttons to control speed and direction, the other gives you a stick to poke the way you'd like to go.
Neither of them are what you might call accurate. And quite often you'll find yourself murdering people you had no intention of murdering. And driving into buildings. There's a lot of driving into buildings.
An MFi controller goes some way to fixing this, and if you've got one you can probably bump the score at the bottom of this review up a little, but it's still not exactly ideal.So it's a bad port then?
I wouldn't say it's a bad port, no. I mean, it's not a game designed for touchscreens, but it's not as clunky as some other ports we've seen, not by a long shot. And it's still an entertaining hodge-podge of violence and chaos.
It will make you frustrated from time to time, but it'll also make you laugh out loud. And sigh. And probably swear. But all in a good way. Or at least a good-ish way.
There's so much to do and see here that you'll be able to look past the problems to the joyous celebration of all things geeky underneath. And then you'll drive into a wall.