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As a kid growing up, one of my best friends lived above me and I would hang out with him all the time. Sometimes we would just stay up all night playing video games. I remember a few games that we could just play non-stop – Super Smash Bros. Melee, the original Spyro trilogy, and Rampage 2: Universal Tour. Rampage 2 was the first game in the series I ever played and I loved it. I didn’t play Rampage: World Tour until I obtained a copy for GameBoy Color way back when and in recent years, I acquired both the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation versions. Rampage 2 was my first and even back then I knew it was repetitive but I could play it all day. I guess my friend didn’t care for it as much as I did because he gave me his copy for one of my birthdays. It was awesome. So there I was, at age twelve or thirteen, playing Rampage 2 in my room, on my PlayStation connected to my tiny-ass CRT TV through an RF adapter, destroying the world one city at a time with drool dripping from my mouth. In this review I’m going to cover both Rampage: World Tour and Rampage 2: Universal Tour for the PlayStation. World Tour was developed by Game Refuge Inc., published by Midway Games, and released in September, 1997. Universal Tour was developed by Avalanche Software, published by Midway, and released in March, 1999. Just like the original 1986 arcade game, both of these entries have you playing as a giant monster, decimating numerous cities, eating people, and destroying vehicles because that’s just fun.
Believe it or not, the Rampage games do have somewhat of a plot, or at least backstories to set up the gameplay. In Rampage: World Tour the plot goes that the Scumlabls facility is housing three giant monsters – George, a giant ape, Lizzie, a giant lizard, and Ralph, a giant wolf. I’m pretty sure these monsters are the results of humans exposed to toxic waste or maybe they ingested toxic waste. I don’t really know but I do know that when you lose all of your health in both games, the monster transform back into humans. In World Tour, the trio must destroy all of the Scumlabs buildings scattered throughout the world before heading to the lunar base and defeating the Scumlabs CEO who turned himself into a monster. In Rampage 2, the trio has been captured. George is being held in New York City, Lizzie is imprisoned in Tokyo, and Ralph is in London. The game introduces a new roster of monsters including Boris, a rhinoceros, Curtis, a mouse, and Ruby, a lobster. After rescuing the trio, aliens invade and after stopping the alien invasion, you take the fight to outer space where you destroy various alien cities across the galaxy. After rescuing a monster, you can then play as them, and there’s even bonus alien monsters that can be unlocked like Myukus and his purple variant. There’s no real voice acting in World Tour other than Dr. Elizabeth Veronica speaking with the Scumlabs CEO in between cities when you’re provided your stats. Universal Tour actually does a better job setting up its story with a few cut scenes of a news anchor covering the destruction.
The actual gameplay in both games is almost identical. You choose a monster, destroy a city, move onto the next. You have to do this over one hundred twenty times in both games so, needless to say, they are repetitive. In World Tour you must find the World Tour flags in windows or destroy the World Tour billboards and depending on what the flag or billboard is will determine what country you’ll travel to next. After you destroy the flag or billboard, you’ll enter a bonus round where you fly to the next country and can collect items which add points to your score. Each country has a Scumlabs building, located in one of its cities, and these cities usually contain toxic waste. If you eat it, you’ll turn into V.E.R.N., a giant purple flying bat that can spit fire and destroy everything in a matter of seconds. I have no idea how many lives you have in World Tour but I know died at least ten times and still kept going. I think you start with four lives in Universal Tour but after earning a specific amount of points in both games, you acquire ane extra life. The flags and billboards make World Tour interesting because each playthrough can essentially be different. You can destroy cities in any order you wish. Universal Tour is a bit more straightforward, but still offers options. When you rescue a monster, you can then decide what monster you want to rescue next and because each one is located in a different continent, you’re basically deciding the order of cities. But let’s be honest, options or not, it doesn’t alleviate the repetition. Each monster in Universal Tour has different stats in walking, climbing, and punching. Punching is probably the most important because monsters with a higher punching stat can destroy buildings quicker than the others. All the stats for the purple variant of Myukus are maxed out, easily making him the most powerful monster in the game. After several cities, you’re forced to play through a bonus round. You may need to destroy a building within a time limit, see how far you can jump, or you may have to kick and stomp as many people as possible before the timer hits zero. If playing in two player or three player, some bonus rounds have you fighting each other, and there’s even a king of the hill bonus round where players fight to stay on top of the hill. The player who stays on top the longest, wins. The bonus rounds are cool at first but it’s a shame you can’t skip them. At least they reward you with an extra life, full health, and/or full power.
I guess you could say these games are sidescrollers. You walk left or right, you can jump, while in the air you can wave your arms to slowly hover downward, punch, kick, and climb. You need to punch, kick, and stomp buildings to destroy them. You can eat people and food found in broken windows to restore health. You can also just kick and stomp people because that’s fun, too. In Universal Tour, each monster has a special attack that does a significant amount of damage. But to unleash this attack you must first fill your power meter by eating shit. Boris can ram into buildings, Ralph will howl, Lizzie can spit fire, and Myukus’s eye will pop out and explode. Each monster’s attack is unique and they’re all more powerful than your standard attacks. Trying to stop you are pedestrians with guns, sometimes they throw explosives, police, military, robots, and even aliens. World Tour includes people flying around with jet packs equipped with what I think are flamethrowers and there’s also robots equipped with machineguns and flamethrowers. Universal Tour includes more alien stuff and you spend a lot more time in space. In both games, tanks are a bitch. One blast from a tank usually knocks you down and the moment you get back up, another shot puts you back down. They usually become priority targets to destroy, otherwise they’re just a nuisance. You’ll also have to fend off attacking aircraft – helicopters, mostly, but in World Tour there’s this flying plane or jet that shoots at you every now and then. You have a certain amount of time to destroy each city but, you never really know how long since there’s no timer. If time is running out, you’ll hear an alarm go off and three jets will rapidly fly by. After flying by a certain amount of times, they will eventually drop bombs that can significantly drain your health. There are items, or power ups, you can collect that will make destroying things easier but they only last for a brief time. In World Tour, some items grant you death breath which means you to scream, destroying everything nearby. You can also acquire items that grants you the hot loogie powerup that lets you spit fire onto the ground which then proceeds to engulf entire buildings. Both games include items that grant you more power, otherwise known as the super punch, which means you can destroy an entire row of a building in one punch. There’s also items that grant you safety which means you won’t take any damage. To restore health you must eat people or food. Eating specific nasty things will drain your health and cause your monster to vomit. In Universal Tour, each monster can eat mega food which grants them even more health and power than other foods. These are essentially favorite foods. For example, Ralph likes steak, Boris likes salad, Myukus likes ice cream, and basically every monster enjoys a stereotypical food that fits their species. After destroying a city in World Tour you’re scored based on property damage, food and people eaten, vehicles destroyed, and buddies bashed meaning how much damage you did to another monster if playing cooperatively. And I’m pretty sure you’re provided a small bonus based on your score in a specific category. In Universal Tour, the categories are reduced to buildings destroyed, vehicles destroyed, and people killed. If you’re playing cooperatively, a winner is determined based whoever destroys the most buildings, so it seems.
I can see players getting tired of the gameplay after the twentieth city or so because the gameplay across both never really varies. You’re always doing the same thing and one might say Universal Tour is just a rehash of World Tour. That’s actually not far from the truth. Regardless, there is something fun about it all but these games are best enjoyed in short bursts. Even with the repetitive gameplay, these games include a ton of little details, especially in World Tour. For example, when you destroy windows you may see someone on the toilet. When you walk over fire you’re monster will hop around in pain. Alien vehicles and aircraft actually fire lasers rather than bullets. There’s pedestrians sleeping on benches, people rolling around in wheelchairs, Elvis impersonators, people carrying boomboxes or bouncing basketballs, people juggling, old people because eating them is always fun, you may see Santa here and there, if you eat Nuns, you’ll get struck down by lightning, and, of course, our favorite pedestrian, the sexy blonde woman in the red dress. UFO’s will fly overhead, abduct people, and I think think they turn them into aliens and send them back down. Destroyed planes will drop cargo that contain items, sometimes animals. You can jump onto aircraft and tanks and use them to destroy buildings and kill people. Pedestrians will be running and screaming for their lives as you stomp around destroying their world and it’s awesome. When you destroy a helicopter, the pilot may come parachuting down but one good punch will send him plummeting to his death. Sadly, Universal Tour doesn’t include nearly as much detail for some reason. Even though the cities basically feel the same, both games do include a good variety of buildings and major cities contain unique iconic buildings that can be destroyed like the Empire State Building in New York City, Temples in Belize, and even Big Ben in London. Even the standard buildings are varied. You’ll destroy houses, hotels, motels, diners, restaurants, supermarkets, funeral parlors, youth hostels, embassies, and plenty more. If you really pay attention, there’s a lot of detail packed into these games, more so in World Tour, and it’s actually quite impressive.
Obviously these games are dated but their arcade-style gameplay still holds up today as do the visuals in my opinion. We were playing these on an original PlayStation, using a SCART cable to produce an RGB video output, and upscaling it to 1080p, and both games look great with plenty of color and I just love the cartoon-y art style. Even though each game reuses the same assets for buildings and backgrounds in every city, if you really pay attention, it’s hard not to appreciate all the little details which becomes the highlight of both games after your mind becomes numb from the repetitive gameplay. I prefer the monster designs in Universal Tour just because they look more badass and menacing but I appreciate the busier environments in World Tour. The music in World Tour is catchy but like the gameplay, very repetitive. You’ll hear the same few tracks repeatedly throughout the entire experience. Universal Tour includes more variety in its music, with some pretty decent rock tunes, but even the soundtrack here becomes repetitive after a while. But the sounds of destruction are solid. Windows shatter, glass breaks, people scream in fear, all while buildings are crumbling to the ground. Now the performance in both games is pretty solid. There was definitely more frame rate dips in World Tour and I’m guessing that’s because of the busier environments.
After destroying over two hundred forty cities, I must say I’m probably not going to play these for a while. But I knew that going in. I also knew these games were best enjoyed in quick sessions. They’re more fun when playing cooperatively with friends but there’s still plenty of fun to be had playing solo. This series is repetitive as fuck but I think it’s the premise and simple and fun gameplay that keeps me coming back. Even though it’s not as detailed, you can’t skip the bonus rounds, and is basically a rehash of World Tour, I still enjoy Universal Tour the most. It probably is because of nostalgia but I won’t say it’s better than World Tour. Universal Tour is literally the same game with a different coat of paint. However, Universal Tour does offer a better feeling of progression thanks to all the unlockable monsters but you can also just use cheats. I don’t take these games too seriously and always have a great time when playing. After a while I do get bored because, let’s face it, admiring the details doesn’t make these games any less repetitive. But completing them does provide a feeling of satisfaction. That feeling of satisfaction may just be the end result of your quest to feel anything after realizing you’ve invested several hours doing the same mind numbing thing over and over again or maybe you’ll just be relieved it’s all over. Regardless, I enjoy them but these games will burn out easily and I would seriously suggest you play these in short bursts.
Rampage: World Tour and Rampage 2: Universal Tour are fun games but the fun will only last for so long. I can see many players getting bored and moving onto something else after maybe thirty minutes. If you like the idea of playing as a giant monster and destroying the world, these may be worth checking out. I would say check out World Tour first and if you enjoy that, then check out Universal Tour. Universal Tour is basically a rehash with some added content but not enough to make it feel significantly different or even improved. World Tour has a ridiculous amount of detail which is one of the game’s biggest highlights. Universal Tour tones down the details but offers a better feeling of progression. But in the end, they are both repetitive games and sequels to an arcade classic. They’re just simple, fun games, with a silly premise. And if you can’t find any enjoyment in this series at all, well that’s your problem.