OVERVIEW: "Better living through chemistry"? Not for four employees at MegaVitamin Pharmaceuticals, who -- through a mixup in the company cafeteria -- ingested a contaminated sample of Megavitamins. Within 24 hours, Larry, George, Ralph, and Lizzie had transmorgrified into giant animals, wrecking havoc and major property damage throughout the United States. Worse, a rumor is now around that an unnamed lab technician can develop an antidote for the disease, but is hiding this information to extract extortion from the government...
RAMPAGE for the Atari Lynx is a conversion of the Bally/Midway game from a few years back. You play one of four monsters (one more than the original), who travel from city to city, smashing skyscrapers, pounding cars, breaking bridges, and eating fruits/humans/vegetables/humans/meat/HUMANS. You and your friends can collectively wreck havoc, or clobber each other, depending on your inclination. As you jump and climb your way through the city, the screen scrolls to show you the action immediately around your monster.
Along the way, you encounter the evil forces of the United States Army, who throw soldiers, tanks, helicopters, and bombs at your 60-foot-tall self. You can smash them, too, but they are many and you are few, so you've got to keep yourself alive while tearing the town apart. Destroy all the buildings in a city and you move to the next, thus effectively roaming the country. If you survive long enough, you may be able to find the mysterious lab technician who can restore you to your former self.
GAMEPLAY: This game is fun. Aside from the sheer silliness of the concept, RAMPAGE is very easy to play, with uncomplicated controls, simple rules, and a sense of difficulty that feels right. There is a lot of stuff to eat and destroy, such as passing trolleys, damsels in distress, neon signs, bridges, and cars. The Army will be able to wear you down through sheer numbers, but if you play it safe and snatch all the food you can get, you'll be able to hold out for a while. If you're lucky, you can find and drink potions, which will render you invulnerable (and invisible to other players) for one level.
Players familliar with the arcade game will be glad to know that the Lynx version is very close to the original, and offers more. After your monster loses all its health, it turns back to human and slinks out of the picture -- until you activate another life. Run out of lives, and you're out of the game. If you're playing with friends, you can continue the game with a new life indefinetely -- until you get past level 40. After that, all deaths are final. Your monstrous abilities to destroy are all translated intact, and the levels, though presented on a scrolling screen, are about the same size as the arcade. Unlike the original, though, there seems to be no difference in the abilities of the different monsters. Watch out for crumbling buildings, and don't jump too hard on the bridges.
If you survive long enough, you will ultimately find a lab scientist who can cook up an antidote to revert you to normal. Though I can't confirm it, I think this will take _quite_ a while to accomplish. The scientist is rumored to be in Sunnyvale, and level 40 doesn't even take you halfway around the country; you start in the state of Washington, and it seems like you travel counterclockwise throughout the United States. Level 40 only gets you to Tennesee. I hear that this game offers around 100+ levels (the manual doesn't say), and it seems quite possible.
As mentioned before, the action takes place on a scrolling screen, so it's possible to be attacked by someone you can't see. This doesn't matter, though, as the game, overall, is slightly easier than the original. It's not a breeze, though, as you will eventually get worn down by a lack of food and an abundance of military might (the lack of continues past level 40 doesn't help, either).
A side note: Normally, I don't discuss manuals in these reviews, but this time I'm making an exception. There's a lot of things that you can do in this game, but are breezed over or completely ignored by the manual. For instance, you can grab a dynamite pack and hurl it away before it explodes. Or grab and HOLD ON to a civilian for points. I don't know whether the omissions were intentional or not, but it's a good idea to TRY EVERYTHING -- you may turn up a surprise or two.
GRAPHICS/SOUND: The game graphics in RAMPAGE are similar, but not identical to, the arcade original. There's nothing wrong with that; game elements are clearly recognizable, and rendered in the same cartoony, tongue-in-cheek mentality that arcade fans will recognize. Especially delightful are the little "cute touches". Punch an electrical applicance and get shocked, eat an undigestible object and cough up, swallow some dynamite and breathe fire -- there's a lot of visual humor in this game. Between cities, the newspaper headlines present the city, the level, and offers bad jokes (there's monster humor, cow puns, and subliminal ads for Atari, to name a few).
The sounds in this game are appropriate, but not special. Sound effects match the game action, as it should. During the game, bouncy/cheery background music plays, sounding similar to the tunes found in CHIP'S CHALLENGE. Fortunately, if it bothers you (I think it's for the wrong game, myself), you can turn the tunes off and keep the sound F/X.
SUMMARY: RAMPAGE for the Lynx reminds me of XENOPHOBE for the Lynx: A lighthearted, silly game that's lots of fun for lots of players (the more the merrier). Though it's not hard to play, I feel that there's going to be lots of hours invested in this card before someone finishes it. If you like the arcade original, like multiplayer cooperative/competitive games, or are looking for a casually-paced challenge, RAMPAGE is the way to go.
Gameplay: 9.5 Graphics: 8.5 Sound: 7 Overall: 9