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Backtracking: Remembering Grand Theft Auto: Vice City With Retro City Rampage's Brian Provinciano

We run pretty far away, all the way back to 2002, with the designer of Retro City Rampage to talk about his love for Rockstar Games' 80s opus.

Retro City Rampage not only parodies Grand Theft Auto, but Metal Gear, TMNT and others.

We’ve been waiting for Retro City Rampage for what seems like forever. I first saw the game at PAX 2010, the same year Supergiant GamesBastion was shown for the first time, and it’s still not here.

Retro City Rampage’s official release isn’t far off, however, and the game was just announced for even more platforms: Vita and PlayStation 3 (via PlayStation Network). It's also coming to Xbox Live Arcade, Steam and, WiiWare. Yep, it's still coming to WiiWare.

The open world parody is the brainchild of Brian Provinciano. With Retro City Rampage almost done, I reached out to Provinciano to ask him about his favorite game of all-time. It should come as no surprise his selections comes from the genre he’s lampooning.

When asked, Provinciano picked Rockstar Games’ beloved Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

I’m still tweaking the format of this feature, too. Suggestions welcome.

GB: Why is Vice City your favorite video game? What makes it stand above everything else?

Provinciano: Maybe it was the right game at the right time, but it evokes such great memories. While I love Super Mario and Tetris and so many others, the game mixed with its soundtrack and tone was just right. There's so much you can do, and you get great feedback satisfaction playing it, doing insane stunts and so forth. It really is the less is more, because while San Andreas expanded the world so much, and GTA IV expanded the detail, Vice City is still my favorite. It's funny though because everyone tells me to pick up Saints Row and that I'll love it, but I just haven't had the time. I played the first half hour of SR3 but need to play more to see if it can stack up.

GB: Do you know how old you were when you first played Vice City? What do you remember?

Provinciano: It feels weird that I'm not saying a game that came out when I was super young. I was 18 or something. I remember going to EB Games on launch day to find out they were sold out but were getting a shipment in the afternoon, so I was hanging around the mall for hours like Jay and Silent Bob until someone walked by and said that Toys R Us had gotten them in, so I rushed over there and nabbed one. I really should've just preordered.

GB: And do you return to Vice City every so often? How come? What changes when you go back?

Provinciano: I do. I even picked up a second copy, the Xbox version just to play it with slightly smoother visuals. It definitely felt weird going back to it after playing Crackdown and GTA IV. The driving felt like it was on rails, like there was a magnet keeping me onto the road. I guess the more realistic (and more difficult to control) physics in games today have made me that much more skilled, where driving in Vice City now seems too easy. At the same time, I'm a fan of fun over realism.

GB: Has Vice City influenced the way you make video games? In what ways?

Provinciano: Absolutely. I can't imagine that I would've created Retro City Ramapage in the first place had I not been such a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series.

GB: When you first played Vice City, you just played games for fun. Today, you make them. How does that color the experience?

Provinciano: It's definitely changed it, a lot. I see and appreciate the craftsman ship of games now more than blindly sit back and enjoy them. However, I still get just as inspired by that as I did my love for the games before that was the case.

GB: Can you point to any part of Retro City Rampage that was specifically influenced by Vice City?

Provinciano: Probably the tone of the game, both its humor and visuals. Although RCR’s humor is far wackier and over the top, Vice City’s humor in my opinion is the best in the series. It’s also unquestionably the most colorful and vibrant, evoking “feel good” vibes not really seen in the others with their gloomier, grittier atmosphere.

GB: Do you have a favorite moment in Vice City?

Provinciano: The game as a whole was great. The story arc worked very well and was the perfect length. When I reflect on my memories though, I see myself driving up and down the strip listening to the soundtrack, flooring the gas and and hitting jumps. In fact, I still pop the game in once and a while and usually just cruise for a bit.

Vice City Stories was part of Rockstar Games' big push on the PSP.

GB: Part of the reason people so deeply love Vice City is the game's spectacular soundtrack. What're your highlights?

Provinciano: We all have our favorite songs, and man, when you’re playing for a while and they come on, it’s just the greatest. That could even be my actual favorite moment come to think of it. There’s some strong connection with the music, where I’d hear a song in real life and feel a strong urge to go and play the game more and vice versa. I felt this with the Midnight Club 2 soundtrack too, it just had that magic to it.

GB: Since you enjoyed Vice City so much, you must have loved Vice City Stories, right?

Provinciano: It’s so weird that I couldn’t get into Vice City Stories even though I like Vice City so much. Maybe the story was just right for me. I’m sure the chosen protagonist had a lot to do with it too, and I know he wouldn’t have been the same without Ray Liotta. It could just be that there are only so many you can do missions based around driving and shooting, so it just didn’t feel as new and exciting. Hard to say.

I know many people at the various Rockstar studios, and they’re all among the hardest working in the industry. They put their all into each game, which is why they’re always so polished and impressive. I’m sure the VCS team put just as much soul into it as the original studio did with Vice City. I’ve probably just had too many years to build up an unbreakable wall of nostalgia towards it, and nothing could ever compare. It makes me wonder if I’d rather have a proper sequel or a next gen remake, and my gut tells me a remake.

GB: In a single sentence, explain to anyone reading this why, if they haven't, they should play Vice City.

Provinciano: Vice City is perfect hit sweet spot, showing these days that less is more.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Retro City Rampage not only parodies Grand Theft Auto, but Metal Gear, TMNT and others.

We’ve been waiting for Retro City Rampage for what seems like forever. I first saw the game at PAX 2010, the same year Supergiant GamesBastion was shown for the first time, and it’s still not here.

Retro City Rampage’s official release isn’t far off, however, and the game was just announced for even more platforms: Vita and PlayStation 3 (via PlayStation Network). It's also coming to Xbox Live Arcade, Steam and, WiiWare. Yep, it's still coming to WiiWare.

The open world parody is the brainchild of Brian Provinciano. With Retro City Rampage almost done, I reached out to Provinciano to ask him about his favorite game of all-time. It should come as no surprise his selections comes from the genre he’s lampooning.

When asked, Provinciano picked Rockstar Games’ beloved Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

I’m still tweaking the format of this feature, too. Suggestions welcome.

GB: Why is Vice City your favorite video game? What makes it stand above everything else?

Provinciano: Maybe it was the right game at the right time, but it evokes such great memories. While I love Super Mario and Tetris and so many others, the game mixed with its soundtrack and tone was just right. There's so much you can do, and you get great feedback satisfaction playing it, doing insane stunts and so forth. It really is the less is more, because while San Andreas expanded the world so much, and GTA IV expanded the detail, Vice City is still my favorite. It's funny though because everyone tells me to pick up Saints Row and that I'll love it, but I just haven't had the time. I played the first half hour of SR3 but need to play more to see if it can stack up.

GB: Do you know how old you were when you first played Vice City? What do you remember?

Provinciano: It feels weird that I'm not saying a game that came out when I was super young. I was 18 or something. I remember going to EB Games on launch day to find out they were sold out but were getting a shipment in the afternoon, so I was hanging around the mall for hours like Jay and Silent Bob until someone walked by and said that Toys R Us had gotten them in, so I rushed over there and nabbed one. I really should've just preordered.

GB: And do you return to Vice City every so often? How come? What changes when you go back?

Provinciano: I do. I even picked up a second copy, the Xbox version just to play it with slightly smoother visuals. It definitely felt weird going back to it after playing Crackdown and GTA IV. The driving felt like it was on rails, like there was a magnet keeping me onto the road. I guess the more realistic (and more difficult to control) physics in games today have made me that much more skilled, where driving in Vice City now seems too easy. At the same time, I'm a fan of fun over realism.

GB: Has Vice City influenced the way you make video games? In what ways?

Provinciano: Absolutely. I can't imagine that I would've created Retro City Ramapage in the first place had I not been such a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series.

GB: When you first played Vice City, you just played games for fun. Today, you make them. How does that color the experience?

Provinciano: It's definitely changed it, a lot. I see and appreciate the craftsman ship of games now more than blindly sit back and enjoy them. However, I still get just as inspired by that as I did my love for the games before that was the case.

GB: Can you point to any part of Retro City Rampage that was specifically influenced by Vice City?

Provinciano: Probably the tone of the game, both its humor and visuals. Although RCR’s humor is far wackier and over the top, Vice City’s humor in my opinion is the best in the series. It’s also unquestionably the most colorful and vibrant, evoking “feel good” vibes not really seen in the others with their gloomier, grittier atmosphere.

GB: Do you have a favorite moment in Vice City?

Provinciano: The game as a whole was great. The story arc worked very well and was the perfect length. When I reflect on my memories though, I see myself driving up and down the strip listening to the soundtrack, flooring the gas and and hitting jumps. In fact, I still pop the game in once and a while and usually just cruise for a bit.

Vice City Stories was part of Rockstar Games' big push on the PSP.

GB: Part of the reason people so deeply love Vice City is the game's spectacular soundtrack. What're your highlights?

Provinciano: We all have our favorite songs, and man, when you’re playing for a while and they come on, it’s just the greatest. That could even be my actual favorite moment come to think of it. There’s some strong connection with the music, where I’d hear a song in real life and feel a strong urge to go and play the game more and vice versa. I felt this with the Midnight Club 2 soundtrack too, it just had that magic to it.

GB: Since you enjoyed Vice City so much, you must have loved Vice City Stories, right?

Provinciano: It’s so weird that I couldn’t get into Vice City Stories even though I like Vice City so much. Maybe the story was just right for me. I’m sure the chosen protagonist had a lot to do with it too, and I know he wouldn’t have been the same without Ray Liotta. It could just be that there are only so many you can do missions based around driving and shooting, so it just didn’t feel as new and exciting. Hard to say.

I know many people at the various Rockstar studios, and they’re all among the hardest working in the industry. They put their all into each game, which is why they’re always so polished and impressive. I’m sure the VCS team put just as much soul into it as the original studio did with Vice City. I’ve probably just had too many years to build up an unbreakable wall of nostalgia towards it, and nothing could ever compare. It makes me wonder if I’d rather have a proper sequel or a next gen remake, and my gut tells me a remake.

GB: In a single sentence, explain to anyone reading this why, if they haven't, they should play Vice City.

Provinciano: Vice City is perfect hit sweet spot, showing these days that less is more.

Staff
Posted by KillswitchNL83

Cool Thanks

Edited by believer258

Am i first? Damn it.

Anyway, I never played any of the old GTA's. Do they still hold up or should I just stick with Saints Row?

Online
Edited by TranceAddix

Excellent read; I love Vice City, too. Unfortunately, there aren't many games with such "feel good" vibes as VC.

Posted by Mikular

I've just been playing through this again recently, awesome read.

@believer258: Absolutely. I recommend Vice City over the others, not as "crazy" as Saints Row, but dripping with style. Also, Scarface.

Edited by Sooty

Best GTA by far!
@believer258 said:

Am i first? Damn it.

Anyway, I never played any of the old GTA's. Do they still hold up or should I just stick with Saints Row?


Controls are dated (the shooting) but it's still fun. Driving in the older games is way better than IV's stupid every single car feels like it weighs a bigillion tonnes approach.
Posted by CptBedlam

Best GTA game! The atmosphere was incredible.

Posted by Zombutler

Fuck yes. Vice City has and always will be the best GTA.

Posted by Yummylee

Vice City Stories was alright (played on the PS2), but yeah it couldn't come close to matching the magic that was unleashed with Vice City. The story was pretty terrible with a lame protagonist (still a massive improvement over Liberty City Stories mind you) and there wasn't anything particularly memorable about it all. The soundtrack was fantastic, though; on par with Vice City's even.

Posted by bybeach

A HD remake of Vice-City?..I think I'll stay alive a bit longer...
Posted by BulletproofMonk

One of my all-time favorites. I feel like Vice City nailed the tone it was going for perfectly. Better than any other game ever has. And it has the best soundtrack. The best.

Posted by buft

bought San Andreas on the 360, i cant go back to them, they just don't feel right.

Posted by dragonzord

@believer258 said:

Am i first? Damn it.

Anyway, I never played any of the old GTA's. Do they still hold up or should I just stick with Saints Row?

The 3d ones? Yeah. The 2d ones? Eh

A big appeal of the 3d ones is that they still have all the atmosphere. The controls are, yeah, a bit dated but still feel fine. Just remember that GTA 3 is far more difficult than any other game in that genre.

Posted by Napalm

Fantastic interview! Vice City is a fantastic game, and I am looking forward to Retro City Rampage.

Posted by Jason_E_Sigler

I will NEVER forget my time with Vice City. While in college, my roommate and I went to the EBGames and picked up our copies, playing it non-stop in our room (missing various classes as a result, in solidarity for one another). One night, after an extended play session, I completed an especially trying and lengthy mission, the one that ended with (SPOILERS) Tommy getting his OWN MANSION. We posted our total earnings and success on our door's white board and called it a night well worth staying up for.

The next morning, we were congratulated by our hall mates on our accomplishment.

Posted by HarlechQuinn

Still the best GTA till today...

Nothing beats and will ever beat exploding with your car on a beach while watching the purple/pink sunset and listening to Jan Hammer's "Crockett's Theme"... This is what I call a magic gaming moment...

Posted by Chop

Vice City is the first game I remember people going completely bonkers over. As in, non game fans were just as excited over it as my friends and I. Lots of good memories with that one...although I do prefer San Andreas overall.

Online
Posted by Equal_Opportunity_Destroyer497

Vice CIty stands out as my favorite GTA, but it's really hard to go back after all of the improvements made to the genre. Best licensed soundtrack EVER.

Posted by Mumrik

I never really got into any of the other modern GTA games, but I played a lot of Vice City. It was all about that scenario, style and soundtrack.

Edited by Castiel

Vice City is also my favorite GTA game. Not only because it was the first GTA game I owned and played through to the end, but also because the setting and the soundtrack had such a big impact on me. I still listen to some of the music to this day and in a lot of ways I guess GTA: Vice City was the game that really opened my eyes for 80'es music.

I still think Vice City has the strongest collection of licensed songs of any game.

Posted by Drebin_893

Damn right, Vice City's my favourite GTA game, and probably one of my favourite games of all time. Banging game.

Posted by ThePhilatron

The contents of this article DO reflect the beliefs and opinions of myself.

Posted by DiscoDuck8k

Vice City is still my favorite GTA. Everything was simply awesome, especially the soundtrack.

Posted by subyman

I enjoyed the tone and story the most in VC compared to all the others. GTA4 was great mechanically, but I didn't care for a lot of the characters and the story was strung out. VC was a tight game that never felt liking it was dragging along.

Posted by Winternet

I agree. Vice City is the best of the series. It's the perfect balance. (although I love the crazyness of San Andreas).

Posted by HBK619

GTA Vice City remains to this day my absolute favourite game of all time. There wasn't as much to do as San Andreas, but it still held my attention for just as long.

And you really can't beat Tommy Vercetti/Ray Liotta for the main character, just so damn good.

Soundtrack wise this was a beast as well, fantastic talk back stations and some awesome 80's tunes on the rest.

Posted by Hemlock

It's funny, Brian's favourite moments in Vice City are the exact same as mine. I would spend hours and hours at the Vice City aeroport trying to do the most ridiculous jumps I could pull off. I'd try with different cars, bikes, everything. I remember even making a compilation video of the craziest stuff I managed to do. What a fantastic game.

Posted by Alwaysrun

Sheets of rain wash across the hood of my car in the dead of night, driving a lonely country highway with nothing but headlights and Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" lighting my way. Moments in games like these is why I still game on into my 40s. Sadly we must endure the mundane until we are again graced with these special game moments which come so seldomly. I agree most wholeheartedly with many comments here that tone and atmosphere is Vice city was expertly crafted and I think as many do that the soundtrack played a pivitol roll in this. As for RCR I wish it well I also played the original top down GTAs and loved them and this looks very similar. I just hope theres groups of Elvis impersonators and Hare Krishnas to run over.

Edited by falling_fast

I really like this feature. thanks, Patrick!

personally, I just wish Vice City let you keep yr weapons from life to life, like gta 4 did.

Posted by Bollard

Totally agree with this guy, VC is my favourite GTA because it just has such awesome music and atmosphere. Really need to see if my PC copy works in Win7.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Maker of GTA-inspired indie game's favorite game is GTA. Makes sense to me.

Online
Edited by Sanity

Yea, i dont think Rockstar has came close to capturing the atmosphere of a place and time like they did with Vice City in any of there other games. From the color pallet to the sound track everything was just perfect.

Posted by Xpgamer7

I love the way you ask the same questions with slightly varied questions inbetween in these interviews.

Posted by prestonhedges

Surprised he didn't say River City Ransom, since that's apparently what he wants me to think about every time I read the title of his game.

Posted by Rhombus_Of_Terror

Best soundtrack,

Best radio stations,

Best setting,

Best story.

Posted by vanfarley

I remember having a lot of fun with this game and especially enjoying the soundtrack, but it's the only 3D console GTA I never beat and that bugs me to this day. I got to mission where SPOILERS you're assembling a crew to rob a bank and to recruit this fat-ass wheelman you need to first beat him in a race. I tried this mission a million times with any cheat I thought would work but to no avail. It made absolutely no sense to me why I would bother splitting shares for a getaway car if I was the better driver and then I heard that you end up having to drive anyway so I said fuck it and never came back to the game. I'm still bothered by this so maybe one day I'll go back and try to power through the story but I highly doubt it. Also Tommy Vercetti is by far the least likeable protagonist of any of the GTA games, including the handheld ones.

Posted by guynamedbilly

Only comment I have is that saying the name of the game in every question makes it sound like you're some kind of salesman or something. I like the story though.

I really loved me some Vice City, probably more than San Andreas. More for the goofy 80s vibe and story than anything else.

Posted by DeltaDreamer

@believer258: I'ed play 3 to SA for the fun that Saints does. 4 was too real, and well skip the 1 and 2 games cuz they DO NOT hold up.

Posted by mosespippy

One of the big problems with VCS was the location design. There is no reason to visit 25% of the map because there are no points of interest there. Vice City had businesses scattered throughout so every area of town had a reason to be explored regularly.

I do love Vice City the most of all the GTA games. I've 100% completed it 7 times and can do it from memory now.

Posted by HotSauceMagik

craftsman ship

craftsmanship

Posted by Twiggy199

i still have the  double pack :D

Posted by Ben_H
@Twiggy199 said:
i still have the  double pack :D
So do I. 
 
So many fond memories of this game. I must have beat it 4 or 5 times by now.  It's a lot of fun.
Posted by scottp

I just picked up Vice City for mac and like always its amazing

Edited by Vigorousjammer

@DeltaDreamer said:

skip the 1 and 2 games cuz they DO NOT hold up.

yeah that first game is pretty hard to go back to now, but I dunno... I've played 2 recently and it's still pretty fun. It's definitely a pretty different game from GTA3 and up, but I enjoyed it.

However, It's hard to separate what part of that might just be nostalgia and what part is actually something where somebody who hasn't played it before would enjoy.

Edit: Also, holy shit... Vice City is 10 years old... I feel like an old man now.

Posted by zombie2011

Vice City was the only GTA game i couldn't get into. I played it for about 10 hours and never played it agian.

Posted by Dad_Is_A_Zombie

An all-time classic. Glad to see it getting it's well deserved respect.

Posted by GreggD

@believer258: GTA 2, III, and San Andreas are my favorites before this gen. I like all of them, but those in particular stand out to me.

Posted by ThatIndianGuy7116

For me, San Andreas was the best. I still love Vice City though. It was kind of hard for me at first but once I got the hang of it, I was instantly hooked

Posted by jonnyboy

VIce City is still the only GTA game I've really loved, 1 was pretty good, 3 was revolutionary but didn't grab me, got fed up with San Andreas and hated 4.

Vice City may not of been a technically competent or encompassing as the games that followed, but my God, the character and tone and attention to style and detail in that game still shines today.

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