Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rampage (Sega Master System)

Bally Midway
Activision (1989)


Growing up in the 80's I was a Nintendo kid. I never game Sega the time of day. I only knew one person that even owned a Master System as most of my friends and myself owned an NES. Years later I would eventually realize that I missed out on a lot of great Sega stuff and I started working backwards from the Dreamcast to the Master System. If only I knew what I was missing!

One question that I still have to this date is why did Activision go with red colored packaging when the majority of the Master System releases all had the uniform white design theme?

Finding Master System games locally is a challenge. Every once in awhile I'll get lucky at one of the retro game shops, but usually I have to resort to buying online. The problem with that a lot of times is 1) I can't inspect the game itself to see if it meets my strict guidelines and 2) the prices tend to be a little higher. I actually found this complete copy of Rampage in someone's store on eCrater of all places...and for a very decent price.

I loved playing Rampage in the arcades with my brother or with my friends, so of course I was excited when it got a home release. I had it a long time ago on the NES, but it's been so long I can't really make my own comparison versus the Master System version.

The premise of the game is rather simple. Take your giant monster, climb up and down buildings, punching them up, eating people and smashing helicopters and tanks to clear the city. 

You get to control one of three monsters, George the Ape, Lizzie the Lizard or Ralph the Werewolf. I remember the arcade version having some sort of story and each level was introduced with some sort of newspaper headline. The Master System version lacks any real story, but seriously so we really need an excuse to bust up buildings and turn them into rumble?

I've always enjoyed this game, but sitting down to play it again the other night I realized how repetitive the game can be, especially playing by yourself. The Master System version does support simultaneous 2 player action, however the game couldn't keep my 4 year old daughter's attention for very long! 

I'm not sure if it was me being rusty or just my inexperience using the Master System control pad, but I had a very hard time getting any of the monsters to climb the buildings. Standing on the edge of the building, one would normally press up on the direction pad to start climbing. Most of the time however my monster just stood there, taking damage from the army men lobbing dynamite at me. When I could get up the building, it was oh so satisfying laying my huge fists into the building.

Occasionally while punching a building items would appear that when grabbed would replenish your health. You have to be careful as not everything helps you. Neon signs on buildings or toasters will electrocute you, making you fall off the building taking more damage when you land on the ground. It is rather satisfying grabbing army people as well as civilians and eating them. Do this enough and you can see your health fill back up rather quickly.

The NES version lacks the character Ralph, so for that reason alone I give the Master System version a slight edge. Unlike the arcade version which starts you off in Peoria, Illinois; this version has you in San Francisco, CA to start the game. I don't know how many levels or days there are as I just couldn't bring myself to keep continuing the game.

Graphically the game looks great. I know there isn't a lot to look at outside of a few buildings, some small army guys and your characters. Personally for an 8-bit home conversion I find it to be very appealing to the eyes. There really isn't music during the game play, which I thought was a little odd. The sound effects, while not great, get the job done.

Overall I found this to be a solid conversion of the hit arcade game. As of this post the game isn't that expensive and can be had on eBay for anywhere between $15 and $20 complete. Because this game appears on so many platforms and on so many game compilations, I can really only recommend this game for die-hard fans or for people that collect for the Sega Master System.

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