As a fan of Japanese monster movies, it should be no surprise that Rampage is one of my all-time favorite video games. For the uninitiated, Rampage is a 1986 video game by Bally Midway that allows players to control one of three giant monsters and wreak havoc across the USA by smashing buildings (but being careful not to be on one as it collapses) and eating people. The monsters in question are George the gorilla, Lizzy the lizard and Ralph the werewolf. But those names meant nothing to me as a little kid when I first encountered the game during a family vacation in Vermont; I knew King Kong and Godzilla when I saw them. I had no idea why there was a giant werewolf and even to this day I’m still not entirely sure. My best guess is that the programmers decided to throw in a non-traditional giant monster so they could claim that had only used enlarged versions of random animals if the owners of Godzilla or King Kong ever threatened a lawsuit. I also recall being baffled over Lizzy only breathing fire after eating certain items that took away health and how the monsters turned into human beings after losing too much health, but I still had tons of fun smashing cities anyway.
Although not the first game of this nature, an honor that belongs to 1981’s Crush, Crumble and Chomp!, the influence of Rampage cannot be denied. Is it mere coincidence that The Movie Monster Game (notable for actually licensing Godzilla) came out that same year? The game Ramparts (not to be confused with Rampart by Atari) came out a few months after Rampage debuted and has been accused of being a thinly disguised knock-off. If not for the success of Rampage, it’s quite possible that the 90’s King of the Monsters series and 2003’s War of the Monsters might not have come into existence.
Said success eventually resulted in the release of 1997’s Rampage World Tour, which added a storyline, bonus superpowers and the occasional computer-controlled monsters that had to be defeated. The series continued (and added new player-controlled monsters) with Rampage 2: Universal Tour, Rampage Through Time, Rampage Puzzle Attack and Rampage: Total Destruction.
Although the original game is often available as an unlockable bonus in many of the above games, there’s also a way to play it if you don’t have them. Just make sure you have Shockwave enabled and click here for some city-smashing fun!