When companies have large back catalogs of games, it can make sense to freshen them up and re-release them to an audience that may not have been around to experience the original. Sometimes, the game is completely remastered, with new graphics and sounds that utilize modern hardware, and additional gameplay elements that make the game an evolutionary improvement over the original. Other times, the company assigns the revamp project to the summer interns (in this case the ones who won’t be getting full-time offers), and what you get is something that feels like a rushed hack job that barely improves upon a game that might be decades older. Rampage World Tour was squarely in the latter category, yet somehow managed to sell enough copies to warrant a sequel release on the N64. That sequel, Rampage 2: Universal Tour, is a slight improvement over World Tour, but is still at its core a game that was born in the 80s and still managed to feel that way even at its release 1999.
Rampage 2: Universal Tour was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1999, following the inexplicable success of its predecessor. Featuring the same basic gameplay that was introduced to arcades with the original Rampage in 1986, Universal Tour is a game that didn’t need to be released, especially on hardware as powerful as the Nintendo 64. I can only hope this game didn’t release as a full price cartridge, but instead got a lower price point right out of the gate. If anything, this should have been released as part of a compilation cartridge that featured other, slightly redone arcade classics. Universal Tour in no way deserves to be a standalone game – hell it would barely deserve to be an iOS/Android game if those had existed at the time.
The gameplay here is what you would expect from a franchise built on giant monsters smashing buildings and eating people. You smash building. You eat people. Occasionally, the military tries to stop you. You will then eat them, and continue on your merry way. The first city you destroy is enjoyable. The second and third start to feel a little repetitive. The fourth and fifth are monotonous. The next 120 can be used by hospital staff to put patients into induced comas. Of course, if 2 of your friends also need to have their brains’ metabolic rate decreased, you can play with them as well. God knows why you can only play with 3 players, not the 4 that the N64 could support. It’s not like the essentially SNES-era graphics are maxing out the graphics chip in the N64. Speaking of which….
The graphics in Universal Tour are decidedly upgraded from World Tour (which are almost hilariously bad given it was released in 1998), but still consist entirely of pre-rendered sprites to give the illusion of 3D. Keep in mind this game came out 3 years into the N64’s lifecycle, after Ocarina of Time even. Now, of course this game also came out on the Playstation as well, so some might argue that the graphics were limited by the Sony hardware, not the Nintendo hardware. Even this doesn’t explain the low quality graphics, or the lack of 3D however. At most you have 3 players on the screen at once (2 for the Playstation), and MAYBE 3 buildings, with some vehicle sprites in the foreground. Not exactly stressing stuff for the hardware of the day.
Gameplay: The same tired gameplay that has been around for decades. What used to be a fun, solid diversion in the arcade with friends is now a repetitive, completely under-powered exercise in monotany. By the time you’ve eaten your 20th human and broken your 50th building, you’ll be looking for your copy of Milon’s Secret Castle to spice things up (ok, maybe that was a little harsh).
Graphics: While the graphics have been upgraded from World Tour, there is nothing here that actually makes use of the N64’s hardware. Everything is pre-rendered sprites that look more at home on SNES than the N64. That said, the building and scenery are colorful and detailed, but then again, so was Donkey Kong Country.
Sounds: About what you would imagine for a game that includes eating people, barfing, and being electrocuted. The sound, while accurate, is simplistic and the music gets redundant very quickly.
Nostalgia X-Factor: I played this game as a child more than I’d like to admit (but then again, this is the kid who bought Polaris Snocross :shudder:), and spent a lot of time with the original Rampage. That being said, I clearly don’t feel a ton of love for this game.
Worth Playing? Absolutely not. If you’ve played Rampage before, you’ve already played Universal Tour. This one isn’t worth the cartridge plastic it’s mounted in, although it’s still better than its predecessor. Only OCD collectors (I know you’re jealous I have this CIB!) should buy this one.