RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Sep 26th 2015 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Physical media, disk, cloth map, floppy, RCR, Retro City Rampage

DOS is dead.  Well, about as dead as the Latin language, meaning that while it is still used today for many things, nothing new has been done in quite a while.  Searching for DOS on Google will net you a ton of abandonware sites instead of indie projects.  Ask your friends and they will wax nostalgic about their favorite games (perhaps many of them not even DOS games).  But there is a completed project, believe it or not, and it has recently been released as a physical, limited release game.  Yep.  A port, no less, of an already successful indie game that has seen physical boxes on the PS4 and PS Vita as well.  The name, you ask?  It's Retro City Rampage 486.

No doubt some of you are asking the question, "What does the '486' at the end mean?"  This, my friends, means that the game was designed to work on the good ol' Intel 80486 DX chip, the precursor to the Pentium, and was installed in many PCs from 1989 all the way up to 1994.  It was coded in assembly and built to fit on a single 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy disk.  That, my friends, is amazing!  The fact that Retro City Rampage 486 could fit onto one floppy disk, put into your old DOS computer from the early nineties, installed, and played in less than five minutes is nothing short of wonderful.  Personally speaking, I would have to recommend playing it on a Pentium-class computer (or if you have a 486 Overdrive that cooks around the 100Mhz range) to get the best performance.  It was a little chuggy on my 50MHz 486, but ran like a dream on my Pentium 133MHz.  Retro City Rampage 486 is compatible with controllers, but if you want to play with USB controllers, you will need to either play the game on DOSbox or on a Win95/98 platform (or maybe FreeDOS with USB drivers).  Those with Gravis Gamepads or other gameport controllers/joysticks will only need to calibrate before playing.

For those that haven't played Retro City Rampage, the game is awesome!  You are "Player," a criminal let loose in the city of Thefttropolis, who steals a time traveling phone booth and somehow manages to trip over about a thousand 80's movie and video game tropes and references.  It is part top-down GTA and part a bunch of other games from the early to mid NES-era.  It is fun.  It's like playing a very early, yet extra sarcastic and silly, version of the original Grand Theft Auto.  It even controls the same. I want to play it now. 

Here is me playing RCR 486 now

So the question that usually pops up when discussing this game is -- How does Retro City Rampage 486 differ from the main game, as it appears on the PC, handhelds, and console?  Technically speaking, Retro City Rampage 486 "is" Retro City Rampage, with all its graphic and TV filter options intact.  However, there is one tiny omission, which is very noticeable within a few seconds: the in-game music.... which is a shame.  See, Retro City Rampage has an amazing soundtrack composed by legendary chiptune composers, Jake "Virt" Kaufman, Leonard "FreakyDNA" Paul, and Matt "Norrin Radd" Creamer.  It is about as square-wave, NES-tastically awesome as one could hope for.  But, none of the music is present in Retro City Rampage 486.  You do get sound, faithfully played through the 1-voice PC speaker (or emulated if you are playing it on DOSbox), but it is limited, and perhaps a little nostalgic.  Granted, the game was created from the ground up (in assembly, I hear) for DOS to specifically fit on a single floppy, but it would have been cool to hear some 16-bit square-wave from my speakers.  And to those that have never experienced music or sound from a PC speaker, there is no volume to adjust, and old computers can be quite loud, especially in an enclosed space.  Fortunately, this particular foible was never emulated in DOSbox, so only those who are actually playing this on original hardware will be turning off the sound from the game menu.

During my time at RFGeneration, I've noticed that there are two different kinds of people: (1) Those that show disdain for digital gaming and (2) those that have no problem with it.  VBlank Entertainment (the designers of RCR) have a little something for both camps.  For the digitally minded among us, Retro City Rampage 486 is free with the Steam and GoG versions of the game.  In fact, assuming you already own Retro City Rampage on Steam or GoG, you probably already have it sitting on your hard drive, along with the Windows 3.1 prototype.  All you need to do is locate it  (usually within the same folder the main game is installed in), unzip it, and drop the "install.exe" onto that DOSbox.exe file.  You don't have to mess with timing or anything.  Are you capable of creating a DOS-bootable USB drive or disc (that being DOS or FreeDOS) that many of us IT dorks occasionally do?  You can also put the game on there as well, and play Retro City Rampage 486 on pretty much any desktop PC or laptop that a DOS-bootable USB or optical disc can be booted from (which is a fair percentage).

"Now listen, Bomba," you say kindly but firmly.  "It's physical or nothing for me.  If I can't have original media in an original box that I can touch, smell, and catalog,  I can't be a part of it."  Well, my friend, I have some good news.  VBlank Entertainment, in conjunction with Indiebox, has released a boxed edition of Retro City Rampage 486 in a very limited run.  In the box, is the game on a 3.5" floppy (available in one of three colors), a 36 page manual, magic decoder glasses, and a RCR DX Steam key, all for $39.99 USD.  If you only want the game, minus the "feelies," you can get the floppy for a mere $14.99.  Don't have a classic computer to play it on?  Plug it into your USB floppy drive and play it on DOSbox.  Problemsolvednowyoucanplayit....or at least own it and put it on your shelf.

Pic from the VBlank Entertainment website

Doesn't all that look wonderful?  Wouldn't it look great sitting on your shelf with your other games?  I think so, and would encourage any who have the inclination and means to get the game, to visit the VBlank Entertainment website and pick up a copy while they are still around.  The run is limited to 1000 copies, and given that this all happened about a month ago, there can't be too many left.

Thanks for reading, all!

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So glad you reviewed this.
@noiseredux:  Thanks, noise.  Once I saw it I knew I had to write something about it.
This is something that I think more developers should aim for.  Not necessarily programming in machine language and running software so small it fits on a floppy disk, but aiming for overall efficiency in programming. 

Naturally a lot of current software would take eons to write in machine language, but I am quite certain that there is a lot of software out there that could be optimized to run much more efficiently, potentially faster on more modest hardware even with the high level languages in use today.
I so want a copy of this.  I just wish I had an older machine in my basement that I could still play it on.  I used to have a stockpile of 486 and early-mid Pentium machines I could have used, but alas, I had to thin the herd.
@Gamer4Lyfe:  I sooooo agree with you.  Not that todays programmers are without talent, but imagine if we had modern games that were as half as tight as this game, or at least with some sort of intolerance towards slack.  It would be a different landscape, that is for sure.

@MetalFRO:  I can dig it.  Those types of machines do take up a lot of room, and you need so many of them to "correctly" play some of the older games.  Actually, that sounds like something I should write an article about.

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