If you’ve ever wondered what Grand Theft Auto would have been like on the Super Nintendo or in the arcade, here’s your answer. Shakedown: Hawaii is the sequel to the popular game Retro City Rampage. I played the first one on my 3DS and had a good amount of fun with it. So, I was excited for the sequel in hopes of updated graphics and new, more exciting gameplay. Luckily, Shakedown: Hawaii didn’t disappoint. 

Check out the trailer below for a full detailed overview of the gameplay in Shakedown: Hawaii

Back when I was about 8 years old my cousin and I would sneak into her brother’s room and play Grand Theft Auto on his PS1 every chance we had. When I tell you Shakedown: Hawaii is very similar to GTA, I mean it: the top-down perspective, the gameplay, the way you shoot your weapons, even the noise the cars make when they squeal on the road. I also found it interesting that you could play as three different characters during the main story. Usually I’d say some junk about this game copying off of GTA, but I wouldn’t go that far. You can tell Shakedown: Hawaii is highly influenced by that series, but it is by no means a copy.

The game is set in a beautifully pixelated (open world) Hawaii. The player is a grumpy, “set in his ways,” retired CEO who is trying to redeem himself and his corporation after discovering that various new technologies like video streaming, video games, and ride-sharing apps are putting him out of business. In order to keep the money flowing he has to come out of retirement and take care of the competition. But all he really wants to do is get back home to his TV shows and martinis. With the help of his delinquent son, trusty hitmen, and tons of artillery it shouldn’t take too long. Plus, this guy likes to cut corners, a lot. I’m pretty sure if you looked up “shady businessman” in the dictionary his picture would be there.

Shakedown: Hawaii is really simple to get into. I can’t really think of any controls or specific missions I had trouble with. Driving is really smooth and the cars pretty much turn on a dime. It’s unrealistic, but sometimes that’s a good thing. I liked the weapon controls the most. The right joystick controls the direction of your gun (grenade launcher, water hose, flamethrower, etc.) which makes it really easy and quick to respond to enemies that are popping up from every direction on the screen. Sometimes big waves will show up and all of them will start shooting at once, luckily it’s easy to dodge by jumping out of the way. A little too easy, honestly.

I don’t like being shot up, but I do like a challenge. I know Shakedown: Hawaii is technically in the category of “arcade game,” I just felt like I breezed through most of it. The main story is broken up into missions. There are 126 missions, 83 shakedowns, 396 properties to acquire, and 28 weapon\score challenges. Shakedowns are when you go into a business and demand they pay you for protection. You know, straight up gangster stuff. There are a lot of properties that you can buy. Each day you will earn income from your properties. Once you own enough of them the cash starts flowing in, and you’ll own the whole island before you know it. I had finished the game at 100% after right around 10 hours, and that’s with me doing a lot of senseless murdering and reckless driving…for review purposes.

It’s probably lame of me to want “more content” from a game that seems to offer so much, but it can get a bit repetitive at times. A lot of the shakedowns are reused challenges and dialogue, and while there are a lot of awesome detailed items to look at while you’re driving around, a lot of that is reused as well. Plus, as I mentioned before, most of the missions are easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Another complaint I had with this game is that it was pretty buggy throughout my whole playthrough. Sometimes it froze, sometimes it just freaked out and did weird, funny stuff. Vblank Entertainment did recently put out an update that included a patch to fix some of the bugs, and it worked. They also included some new features with the update: “More Shakedown Scenarios, Car Repossession, Weapon Pawning, Salary can now be increased quicker, Police chases improved, Horns/sirens added to vehicles and more!”. 

Shakedown: Hawaii is one of those games you can have a lot of fun with. It looks great, it’s exciting, and it seems like it has a lot to offer, but after a while it can get a little stale, just like most open world games. Hopefully, there will be more updates and awesome content to look forward to in the future! Check out Hawaii: Shakedown on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99.