It was 1986 when Midway launched Rampage into arcades, a year after Godzilla returned to US theaters in Godzilla 1985 and coinciding with the miserable King Kong Lives release. The time was right, three players launching into major metropolitan American cities as mutated people turned creature-riffic. It was enough to turn the game into an arcade monster success (pun intended), and then ported to just about every piece of gaming hardware that could handle it.
In the US, most were probably familiar with the NES port, sacking Ralph the giant wolf in the process. Lizzie, the clear front runner for a Toho-based Godzilla lawsuit, and George, the leader in potential Universal-based lawsuits over King Kong, were all the game needed. Something changed at home though, namely the unlimited continues.
See, when you ran out of quarters, you didn’t have to worry about whether or not you destroyed enough buildings by climbing them, devastated enough local military types, or ate enough business men just trying to go to work. At home though, you wanted the country in ruins. The problem was that after a period of time, Rampage didn’t exactly have a lot of bite.
The appeal was still there; giant monsters are always memorable after all. It was around halfway there, 60 or stages, when it just felt like Rampage stopped caring. Nothing livened up the giant monster fun, and it began dragging. Just to top it off, beating the final city produced a misspelled “Congratulation!” screen before fading back to the title screen. Memories of my 7th birthday swarm around that ending screen and infuriated friends who stuck it out with me for most of the day.
The portable Atari Lynx edition would prove to be a notable port as it was the only one to support a fourth monster, a mega rat named Lester. Maybe New Line can take notice for their upcoming movie; Lester deserves more notice.
Screens from the Amiga (top) and NES (lower) attributed to MobyGames