PSX 2016 – Shakedown Hawaii Preview – Social Parody (PS4)
Odds are if you own a PS4 or Vita, you’ve played a retro styled game or two (or three, or four). Odds are that you stopped giving pixelated retro inspired games the time of day. I can’t blame you for that. I’m on the same page, but there are certain ones that still stick out to me. Vblank’s Retro City Rampage is one such game, a massive undertaking that is more or less an 8-bit styled Grand Theft Auto type of game, filled with absurdities and references to other games and pop culture. It’s a veritable parody, defying its own retro nature and yet being clearly defined by it. It’s also amazing a 4 way cross-buy game — the only one that I know of — on PS4, PS3, Vita, and PSP.
For years, I’ve been itching to see what Brian Provinciano and his small team would get up to next, so when the chance rolled around to check out Shakedown Hawaii at PSX 2016, I had to stop by. Shakedown Hawaii is like a step to the next generation from Retro City Rampage, going from 8-bit to a pseudo 16-bit world. Instead of being a series of sprites layered on the top of a pixel map, Shakedown Hawaii has a little more depth, with buildings and objects in the background allowing the player character to walk behind them. Brian explained it all to me in a bunch of technical jargon that I didn’t quite understand, but regardless of not quite grasping the details of it all, it’s fascinating to listen to him talk about his games and the passion he has for these projects.
Shaking Things Up
Brian wants to be clear that Shakedown Hawaii is not Retro City Rampage 2. Shakedown is its own game, featuring an old man trying to gain and retain his empire. Buildings throughout the city can be bought up and each unlock additional missions that can be completed. While Retro was filled with references to other games, this new game is filled with social references, a parody of the modern world. He’s not trying to make a statement with it, but much like a comedian, just wants to use the extremes to entertain. One example I was given is a taxi company owned by the main character opens up missions regarding a new ride sharing service coming to town and threatening his cab profits. Of course our misguided antihero is going to deal with this in the most extreme way possible: with lots of bullets and explosions.
My brief time playing was mostly spent causing havoc in the open world, shooting lots of guns and driving cars over people and into stuff. The environment is destructible and makes causing havoc a lot of fun. It’s addicting to drive through a whole bunch of fences just to see them crumble, not to mention the 16-bit person or two that you might hit along the way. Eventually I came across a mission at the airport, flying to a different country to quell the local unrest so that I could get an ingredient needed for my cheaper sugar substitute. It’s hilariously over the top, one man ending an entire civil war just for a little extra profit back home.
Shakedown Hawaii is another retro inspired game from Vblank that looks like it will really push the expectations of what retro inspired games can be. Bake in the social parody and Shakedown Hawaii is sure to be another Vblank hit that really steps things up from Retro City Rampage when it releases in 2017.