Preview By: Jared Black
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The downside to the Wii’s GameCube-like architecture is that it’s very easy to port to, quickly turning it into a way for publishers to make a quick buck on ports of last-gen titles. A quick glance at the system’s release list certainly attests to that fact. The upside is that it also means the system will have several games we already know are good at launch, with budget prices typically unheard of for a launch lineup. Not only that, but the system’s unique controller means developers are forced to take a fresh look at these ports, often improving them in the process. The cheapest of these titles is Rampage: Total Destruction and its $29.99 MSRP. It may also be one of the better bargains on the system at launch, as an already solid GameCube title looks set to only get much, much better.
For those of you that missed it the first time around, Rampage: Total Destruction for GameCube (and PS2) was another solid entry in Midway’s long-running arcade franchise. Although the game had some control issues, it was still fun in short doses and managed to deliver plenty of what fans of the series were looking for: lots and lots of buildings to destroy, and lots and lots of unique monsters to do it with.
In fact, the game featured a total of 7 different cities, each with several different city blocks, and 30 different monsters to collect including series mainstays Lizzie, Ralph, and George. The Wii port ups the ante even more, adding 10 new monsters (each with their own combination of attributes and special moves) for a whopping 40 in all.
As I mentioned before, my primary complaint with the game was with the controls. Basically, the improved monster animations versus previous games in the series weren’t properly accounted for, meaning that it wasn’t always obvious where an attack would land on a building. Since each building is divided into hot spots that can only be usefully attacked a certain number of times, this resulted in a lot of wasted attacks moving from one section of a building to the next. The other problem was that the game’s limited 3D space didn’t always feel right, making it hard to climb buildings and resulting in attacks that would hit enemies nowhere near where the attack actually went.
With the Wii, those control issues seem to have been largely resolved. The game will be playable with or without the Nunchuk attachment, which is a nice option (particularly since the game supports up to four players and the Nunchuk is $20 by itself) that many other titles don’t appear to be offering. Either way, the A button will be your primary attack button while the B trigger will be used for jumping. The direction the remote is pointing in will determine where attacks land on a building, which in theory will provide much more precise control over your attacks than the GCN version did. This change alone, provided it works as I expect it will, should make a huge difference in the game and largely address the problems I had with it before.
That’s not all though. Regardless of whether you’re using the Nunchuk or not, swinging the remote left or right will perform a grab if there’s an object nearby (such as a car), or throw an object if the monster is already holding one. Meanwhile, swinging the remote downward will perform ground smashes, or a hard downward attack while clinging to the side of a building.
Finally, if you’re playing the game with just the Wii Remote and no Nunchuk, character movement is handled by twisting it. Twist it left to walk left, twist it right to walk right. To walk into the background or grab onto a building, simply point the remote upward. To walk back to the foreground or descend a building, simply point the remote downward. As you can probably imagine, this seems like it could get confusing without a lot of practice. Fortunately this is where the Nunchuk comes into play, as the analog stick will handle movement if it’s attached, offering a much more conventional means of moving around each level without sacrificing the ingenuity shown elsewhere in the control scheme.
Graphically, Rampage: Total Destruction looks like you’d expect a Wii port of a GameCube title to look. Everything looks a little sharper, from the details on each monster to the buildings in the background, but on the whole it isn’t going to impress your friends checking out your new Wii. Which is fine, because you wouldn’t expect a budget title to be the best-looking thing on the system anyway, and it should still be solid.
In the end, the prospects for success or failure with Rampage: Total Destruction lie almost solely in the revamped controls. If they work like they appear they will, this could be one of the best values at launch. The $10 premium over the GameCube version would definitely be worth it for the Wii Remote controls alone, not to mention the improved visuals and extra content thrown in for good measure.
Posted: 2006-10-27 18:15:57 PST