If you have been longing for the days of pixellated mayhem in the vein of Grand Theft Auto in its early days, then Vblank Entertainment’s Shakedown: Hawaii should be high on your playlist.
Following Retro City Rampage, the developers have further honed their craft in creating a retro open world rife with opportunities for mayhem and mischief.
With a refreshed 16-bit look, Shakedown: Hawaii offers a vibrant and colourful aesthetic, which is fitting considering the game’s overall theme. The animations are adorable and smooth, with visuals that pop out on-screen. The overall world created is enticing enough to keep you exploring, and even with the deluge of pixel art in the market, Shakedown: Hawaii stands tall above the rest.
A colourful world deserves an equally colourful plot, and as the ageing CEO of a large corporation that is in danger of being obsolete, it is up to you to modernise your business in the dirtiest of ways you know how. Add in a disappointment of a son and a capable hitman into the mix, and Vblank’s brand of humour and satire comes through brilliantly.
Watching as the elderly man struggle with concepts like streaming, subscription services, and all the trappings of present-day life reminds one of the simplicity of yesteryear. It is amusing on its own, but to witness how the CEO comes to grips with these newfangled ideas and use them in his own signature criminal ways is the cherry on top.
Shortchanging consumers on their purchases, replacing chocolate with non-edible substitutes, and utilising outrageous terms of service to take advantage of the unwitting are just some of the improvements you will be making to your business empire.
The main action, however, usually requires you to travel to somewhere on the map, grabbing an item or engaging in combat, and buying up property when the opportunity presents itself. It is the most basic of mission design, framed by some strong writing and comedy, and usually over in minutes.
Movement on foot and in vehicles is easy to understand and execute, and gunplay feels great, especially with the variety of weapons at your disposal. Setting everything on fire, including yourself, is particularly enjoyable, and Shakedown: Hawaii shines brightest in such moments of madness.
There are also optional challenges that present unique scenarios for players to compete, complete with leaderboards. Medals can be obtained based on your performance, be it whacking enough people with a bat, or running over everything in a monster truck, and the challenges are short but fun distractions.
On rare occasions, you will get to compete in minigames that require a sense of rhythm, be it hitting the gym or partaking in water aerobics. There are also reality TV segments that require you to run the gauntlet much like Smash TV, shooting and platforming your way to mediocre stardom. These sections are not huge parts of the game, but do add some much-needed variety once in a while to break up the monotony.
All of your activities go towards increasing your daily profit. Sure, you can murder civilians or sell jacked cars for quick cash, but the real prize is in businesses. As you progress, the city opens up and you can begin taking over.
By performing shakedowns on stubborn establishments (which adds more mission types), they become available for acquisition. Others can be bought if you can afford it, and as you unlock multipliers, your income will only grow more substantial.
It feels almost like a clicker-type game, but with the advantage of you taking more direct control. If you manage a monopoly of certain types of businesses, there is also a bonus multiplier, and the cycle continues on your way to eventual domination.
Eventually, your rivals will fall to you, and you will become the top dog once more. But like all businesses, Shakedown: Hawaii can be hard work if you are not a fan of repetitive missions and Vblank’s brand of humour.
The business management can sink its hooks deep, and the simple but satisfying combat continues to be enjoyable, but whether or not you will stick to its end remains to be seen.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Colourful and enjoyable in parts, Shakedown: Hawaii can suck you right in, but keeping your attention is a whole other matter.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 7/10