It doesn’t take long to get a feel for Quadropus Rampage’s sense of humor. Within seconds of loading the game up you’re assaulted with enough non-sequiturs and so-called “ironic” jokes to kill a small elephant. Actually, that probably isn’t fair – I’m a pretty small guy and I survived – but the point stands. It rests somewhere between a 2008-era Burger King commercial and a mediocre Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job episode on the comedy scale, which is great if you’re into, uh, whatever that means.
I’m not. Fortunately, games are here to entertain us, and entertainment comes in a lot of different forms. I might not have laughed too much at four-legged sea creature Tack’s journeys through an endless underwater dungeon, but there was still plenty to enjoy despite that. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it a unique, addictive romp through the most dangerous underwater kingdom this side of Ursula’s domain? Indeed it is. Jeez, ya’ll ask some specific questions.
Under Da Sea
At its core, Quadropus Rampage’s end goal isn’t too different from what you see in most other Play Store titles these days: Go as far as you can before you die. Then you do it again. Sometimes you’re able to add some extra powers (you don’t even have to wait until you die to apply them!) before slaughtering the opposing army of anglerfish and hammerhead sharks.
The game’s talent system is twofold. Currency, which you pick up during your neverending battle, unlocks base stats like defense and attack power, while completing in-game achievements (called Masteries) gets you perk-style abilities. Developer Butterscotch Shenanigans takes a unique approach to the latter, granting two skills for every Mastery you gain and letting you switch between them in battle. The “Powerful” achievement, for instance, lets you choose between a full life bar and a massive, enemy-killing explosion every time you level up. The catch? You can only use one at a time.
A Full Aquatic Arsenal
The “quadro” in Tack’s name may lead you to believe he touts less offensive power than his eight-legged brethren. If so, think again. When it comes time to kill some bad guys I’d much rather carry a sword or staff or mace into battle than some lame ink glands and suckers on my legs. Like any good quasi-RPG, every enemy you vanquish with one of Tack’s three available offensive maneuvers (a standard strike, circular swopping attack, and leaping power hit) has the chance to drop some new hardware. The above-mentioned maces and the like are, of course, are standard fare; other items, including frogs, birds, pistols and scissors, which Tack holds by the blade, round out the selection.
While we’re on the topic of misconceptions, don’t let the graphics and wacky sense of humor make you think Rampage takes its gameplay lightly. Your weaponry doesn’t change how you fight – whether you’re holding a handgun or a live bird, you’ll always have the same three attacks – but it certainly affects how well you do. Taking another page from its roguelike pedigree, the game features randomized stats and names for its weaponry, not to mention Blizzard-style white-to-orange color coding to help you tell when you’ve found a rare orange item or a common piece of, erm, white trash. Even then, I’m pretty sure I could play Diablo my whole life and never run into a Cream-Filled Wooden Staff of Your Mom. That’s an actual thing in the Quadropus Rampage world, in case you were wondering.
Baltic Bad Guys
The stable of enemies you face aren’t nearly so diverse. The two main creatures, a laser-shooting anglerfish and some other kind of fish that spits blue bubbles at you, made up 95% of the creatures I faced. Hammerhead sharks and boss creatures, most of which were bigger versions of the three creatures I just mentioned, made up most of that remaining 5%, and you kill a heck of a lot of bad guys in this game. It didn’t take long for the anglerfish and bubble-shooting guys to feel like cannon fodder… in a game that tosses literal hundreds of them at you before giving you other enemies to kill, that’s a very bad thing indeed.
I also felt the game was a little inconsistent when it came to combat difficulty. Or perhaps it was a little too consistent: Somewhere between the 15th and 20th levels, no matter what weapon I carried, no matter what Masteries I equipped, the game would flip a switch and murder me to death without fail. The wall was almost always so sudden and brutal there was no preparing for it. It’s a minor complaint – and one I could probably fix by dumping more points into defense stats and making better use of Tack’s shield – but it happened frequently enough that I wanted to bring it up.
Visually (insert fish pun)
I’m torn on the game’s visuals. On one hand, the 2D sprites and character designs are more than adequate. On the other, the dungeon design (outside of the occasional bright-colored bonus level) got repetitive and frankly pretty boring from an art standpoint pretty quick. Overall I think the bright, well-animated characters make up for it. That said, don’t expect genre-defining visuals from anything. It’s what any flash game with a talented art team would shoot for, provided they knew they were working almost exclusively on high-rez screens. As much as I dislike the term, mixed bag describes the situation perfectly here.
It Isn’t Crappy
Some posts I saw online indicate Quadropus Rampage was a paid title at one point. If my back-breaking research (read: a 30-second Google search) is accurate, the developers switched to a freemium model because of customer complaints. I think that’s fair here. As a free game it’s a borderline-addictive dungeon crawler with a few flaws that keep it from being, like, that good. As a title that set me back two or three or four bucks I’d be more inclined to chalk it up under the kinda-fun-but-boring column. There are very few games, in my opinion, that would benefit from that kind of shift. For all the other things it does, that’s maybe the most unique thing Quadropus Rampage has going for it. Check it out.