If I was to sum up the game Rampage in one word, it would be “repetitive,” but that’s greatly underselling the game. Sure, from screen to screen, you basically did the exact same thing, but it manages to poke that love of destruction that lives in the brain of every human on Earth. Like destroying a sand castle, the fun of leaving cities in ruins is something shared by almost everyone with a heartbeat.
Rampage: World Tour was, I feel, a successful expansion on the arcade title’s formula. It added a fun and cartoony style and stretched out the gameplay to something that felt more like progression. Again, you simply razed cities to the ground as a giant monster, and this went on and on and on. There was 130 levels, many of them completely interchangeable. It was largely a 4-6 hour game with enough content to cover one hour. Maybe.
It was popular enough for a console-only sequel, however, and that arrived as Rampage 2: Universal Tour. What makes it different? Some things…
WITH A PURPOSEFUL GRIMACE AND A TERRIBLE SOUND
Taking place after World Tour, Universal Tour sees the three monsters from the first game in captivity and the world completing its rebuild. Unfortunately, Scumlabs, who somehow avoided repercussions from their hand in the world’s destruction, has another accident that creates three new monsters that go berserk. Listen, if you were expecting something new and exciting in the plot department, I don’t know what to tell you.
The setup is the same as World Tour wherein you, uh, rampage from city to city, knocking them to the ground and eating people. The major difference is you’re given the choice to rescue one of the original three monsters — Ralph, George, and Lizzie — from a specified area of the world. Once you’ve picked, you’re then sent through a linear selection of cities to destroy.
It’s fun. While it was entertaining to never know what city you’d end up in next in World Tour, guessing where the pin on the map landed and wondering if you’ll get to visit a certain country is far more exciting.
One issue I have, however, is that, once you rescue a monster, I don’t know of a way that you can switch to them without exiting and inputting a password. I ended up playing the whole game as Boris the Rhinoceros when I wanted to play Ralph, and also because my husband picked Ruby the Lobster who would have been my other pick. Marriage is about compromise, and sometimes that means not being the monster you wanted.
NOM NOM NOM
There are very few differences separating Universal Tour from World Tour. Aside from structure, I can only recall the inclusion of a super meter as any sort of improvement. Each monster has a different ability to unleash destruction with, and that’s, you know, reasonably fun. I guess.
Also added are bonus rounds after every few stages that pit you in a competition against other players. Again, this isn’t too exciting, but it’s worth mentioning.
Another major addition is a slew of stages that take place in space, hence the “Universal” part of the title. The alien element is a decent way to keep things fresh in the later stages, but it feels like a bit of a cop-out. You could already go to the moon in World Tour. This is barely a progression from that.
WHO ARE THE REAL MONSTERS HERE?
It may sound like I’m really down on Rampage as a whole, but the fact is, I have a lot of fun with these games. Okay, so there’s not a lot to them and they drag on for what feels like an eternity, but they just so happen to poke that part of the brain that likes saving the game in Simcity just to unleash every disaster at once. The voice in your head whose favourite parts of Godzilla movies are when he’s stomping through cities. You know, the jerk center of the brain.
That goes pretty far. There are a lot of games out there where destruction is the central mechanic, but I don’t think there’s one as joyful about it as the Rampage series. Maybe that’s where the simplicity of it all is an asset to it: you don’t have to learn a lot of complex mechanics, you’re just dropped in to destroy everything.
And it helps that this can be enjoyed with friends; 3 players altogether. Stupidity is a pastime best shared with others, after all. The Rampage series has become something of a staple for my husband and I. Again, something easy to pick up and play. Something with an end goal we can both contribute towards.
PRESS START TO CONTINUE
Speaking of which, there’s one important thing to note with Rampage: Universal Tour: continues are limited. World Tour, you could just keep on hitting start after every time you died. It’s nice in an environment where you just want to let loose, but it immediately sucks all the challenge out of the game. The only thing standing between you and the ending is your tolerance for the repetition. Universal Tour requires that you go from start to end without expending all your lives.
Honestly; not a terribly tall order, but it makes a dramatic difference. We made the mistake of turning off the “shared lives” feature that would have allowed us to draw from the same pool, and indeed we ran into the issue where the share of lives became unbalanced. Once a player is expelled, they can’t continue… ever as far, as I can tell. Reload a recent save and have that player be extra careful or start all over.
Really, though, as soon as we found this limitation we adopted more of a strategy. Bonus rounds would go to the player who needed the lives the most, we became more aware of when the other player’s “Super Food” (specific food items that heal more for that monster) appeared in a window. We prioritized targets to minimize damage we were taking. So, suddenly, this simple game had a modicum of strategy to it as we focused on situational awareness. It makes a difference.
SAVE THE WORLD BY DESTROYING EVERYTHING
I’ve tried to plainly lay my cards out here: If you’re familiar with Rampage: World Tour, this is more of that. Small tweaks make it the superior experience, but the gameplay hasn’t changed in any meaningful way aside from progression. For me, it’s enough. Like I said, I have an absolute soft spot for the Rampage experience, and this is a nice version of that. Something better suited for consoles, certainly, while not sacrificing the pick-up-and-play simplicity of the arcade gameplay.
Unfortunately, the Rampage series hasn’t really been seen since 2006’s Rampage: Total Destruction and Midway’s later demise. We got a movie in 2018, bizarrely, but WB, who now owns most of Midway’s properties, didn’t give any indication that they’d be reviving the series further. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe we already hit the peak potential for the series. Still, I can’t help but want more, even after I’ve been given too much.
This review was conducted on an N64 using a cartridge version of the game. It was paid for by the author.