Review: Shakedown Hawaii (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Review: Shakedown Hawaii (Switch)

by James Charlton

On the surface this game has everything I want; beautiful pixel graphics, incredible chiptune soundtrack, hilarious story that takes shots at the stupidest parts of modern culture, all wrapped up in a classic GTA style game package. So, why don't I love this game?

OK now you've finished scrolling down to see my final score before reading my review, welcome back, let's get on with explaining why I didn't give it a perfect 10 despite loving almost every individual part of this game.

In case it wasn't obvious Shakedown Hawaii was developed by Vblank Entertainment, the same people behind the very similar Retro City Rampage. Both games are heavily inspired by the original top-down view GTA games and involve lots of driving/stealing cars, running away from the law, and shooting people.

The crux of this game however is building acquisition and management. No, you read that last part correctly - it's basically Sim City but instead of using a mouse cursor to adjust taxes, you're a gangster running around messing people up until they hand over the deeds to their shop. Sounds fun, but the whole wealth acquisition part of the game quickly feels redundant as you're getting money pouring in every day from all the underhanded schemes you set up. Most of the game is spent driving from place to place across the map, doing a short mission, driving back to your house or office, quick cutscene, then on to the next mission, rinse repeat until the end of the game. There is some variety in the missions, but not enough to prevent deja-vu setting in once your about halfway through the game.

These mission all play out via various 16 bit style cutscenes showing the CEO getting ideas for his next semi/completely illegal money making scheme from TV or from his numbskull son. The story is genuinely funny to watch as they more often than not depict things that annoy me in real life,  and thus I found it cathartic to partake in missions that let me destroy my biggest pet peeves. You do switch between your son and your "fixer", but again the missions are not that varied.

The presentation in general is top-notch, the bright and colourful setting of Hawaii is a joy to watch realised in 16 bit pixels. It's basically like an HD SNES game. The music is also exceptional, fans of retro style music will love this soundtrack. There a couple of the radio stations that play some skippable tracks, but the rest of them, plus all the cutscene and mission music is wonderful and you may find yourself listening to it outside of the game.

All in all it's a hard game to recommend on a strict gameplay basis, but if all the good things I said about the game speak to you, you will probably get some enjoyment out of it.

Final Score: 6.5

Review code provided by the publisher

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