I happened upon this crazy game in an arcade during my youth. I studied this game for a bit, and saw that this game was way different than anything else in the arcade, or on any system for that matter. For one thing, you weren't the hero, but rather, a giant monster. It looked like a King Kong or Godzilla movie, with soldiers shooting at the monsters from the building that were just begging to be leveled. Rampage was definitely a diamond in the rough.
Rampage was a game that overflowed with personality. The first thing you notice is that each monster has their own coin slot and control station. The three monsters were represented by their footprints on the panel illustration. George was a gorilla, Lizzie was a lizard, and Ralph was a wolf. You weren't given a whole lot of backstory as to why these monsters existed, but a brief paragraph about their origins. George was a pharmacist who came into contact with a vitamin that mutated him. Lizzie was a woman who took a swim in a radioactive lake. Ralph ate a radioactive hot dog. Thus, there was the plot, not much to speak of, but it's a smashing good time. In short, I found my new arcade addiction.
When Rampage was ported to home consoles, each version had its differences. The best home version was for the Sega Master System, as it was closest to the arcade. It also had a definite ending screen. The NES had a port, courtesy of Data East, but sadly, it wasn't a solid port. There were nice touches, like a bonus level where you smashed a building to find a bonus food that would fully heal you, and a map of the USA to show your progress. The downside is that you only got George and Lizzie. No Ralph! I found this odd, as one of the Atari ports not only kept Ralph, but added a fourth monster, a giant rat named Rizzo, who most likely came from a laboratory. Sadly, Rampage was never adapted to 16-bit consoles, as it would have been perfect.
A decade later, Midway decided to revisit Rampage and produced Rampage: World Tour. This is a game I still have on my Nintendo 64, and I come back to it on occasion. It was an improvement over the original game. It was more humorous, had more personality, and on top of that, it still had everything that made the original great. Not only did you have to wreck havoc in the USA, but the rest of the world, as well. The original three were back, but now they had a different origin. All three were technicians at Scumlabs, a conglomerate that specialized in toxic and radioactive waste, and were exposed to toxins in a freak accident. So now, in addition to smashing buildings for the heck of it, you actually had a goal: revenge on Scumlabs. The tally screen/cut scene after the first level said it all: "It seems the creatures' goal is to wipe Scumlabs from the face of the earth."
This was ported to the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, and Sega Saturn. The Nintendo 64 version had the bonus levels which were missing (for some reason) from the PlayStation version. There was a nice little animation of Ralph and Lizzie tearing apart a town with real actors facing their wrath, which can be seen after you beat the game.
Midway followed up Rampage: World Tour with Rampage 2: Universal Tour. Now it added more levels and more monsters. In fact, when you started the game, you had three new monsters to choose from: Ruby the crab, Boris the rhino, and Curtis the rat, and you had to go on a quest to rescue the original three, and a brand new alien creature. Not only did you destroy the world, but you rampaged across the solar system, too. But for some reason, it just didn't do it for me. I never thought this would happen, but at this point, I was "Rampaged out." I never tried Rampage Through Time, so I won't mention it.
When Rampage: Total Destruction came out, I was ready to play a giant monster again. The game seemed like a reboot of the classic game, with an intro cut scene explaining the mutation coming from a new soda. Not only did you have the original three monsters, but along the way, you could collect more monsters. I loved the new way this game played, as it seemed more three dimensional than previous entries, but some of the bosses seemed impossible to defeat. Still, it was great in short bursts, and I regret selling my copy.
So this brings me to...
The movie based on the game, Rampage. I am not going to write a review, as I don't get paid to complain about movies, plus, I enjoyed this movie anyway. I did notice an Easter egg in the movie in the form of a Rampage game in the background, sitting next to a Mortal Kombat machine. A testament to the legacy. Plus, the story does differ from the games. Instead of mutated humans, it's mutated animals. Plus, it seems that there was no time wasted in making a new Rampage game based on the movie. I just wish it wasn't a Dave & Buster's exclusive. Please put this thing on consoles!
So this has been a look back at a game series that has been near and dear to my heart through most of the games. If I left anything out, please let me know.
@MormonMetalhead on Twitter.