Thank you so much to Vblank Entertainment for providing a review code
With the Switch’s library opening itself up to open world games, it’s not surprising that so many are yearning, for a Grand Theft Auto title. The nonstop action and hijinks that comes with the title has created its immense fame and many players would like that recreated on their favorite hybrid console. I myself am not a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, but I can understand the appeal. Shakedown: Hawaii is the new title from the makers of Retro City Rampage which many say is the retro version of Grand Theft Auto. Now I’ve gotten the chance to play Shakedown Hawaii and I have to say if you’re looking for something with the entertainment and insanity of Grand Theft Auto then you don’t have to look any longer.
Shakedown: Hawaii is a 2D open world action title that sees you playing as a rich business mogul. The entire story is a play on what happened to many businesses during the rise of technology. Suddenly all of your businesses have begun to go under, because of market competition. Your businesses include video rental shops, taxi services, and retail stores. Now the streaming services and online shopping have come in and started running you out of business. You’ll have to adapt to the times and start to buy up new businesses and sabotage your competition. It’s a pretty over the top story, but it goes well with the current times. As someone who group up right in the middle of all of this I found it really funny. I think the developers did a great job handling their narrative. Though if you’re not a fan of over the top stories with not much depth, you may not find it overly enthralling.
The game takes plays out in Hawaii. You pretty much have free reigns to do whatever you want around the city. Find a car you like well then steal it, someone looks at you funny, well break their kneecaps with a baseball bat. If you have some extra cash on hand, you can walk into stores and buy a new jacket or, a nice new haircut. There’s local gangs in town that’ll get angry if you mess with them, and if you run over enough people the cops will start chasing you down. It’s all very reminiscent of the style of gameplay that Grand Theft Auto created. There’s also plenty of weapons that are found around the city that you can equip. These range from pistols, to flamethrowers, to rocket launchers. With all the possible weapon choices there’s something for everyone.
The main missions all center around your companies and finding ways to improve your revenue stream. Controlling your businesses is the core mechanic the game is centered around. Scattered around the cities are businesses you can buy. Your businesses generate daily revenue that adds up to your total company revenue. The company revenue is what’s used to buy more properties to increase revenue. The end goal is to own all the properties on the island, though this isn’t required to beat the game. It’s not an overly complicated system managing your businesses, but it’s a lot of fun. It was an awesome feeling when you got that daily paycheck in and searched the map for your next purchase.
Some of the buildings, even have a secondary use to just being a revenue source. You can buy parking garages to access your stored cars, or body shops to reduce the cost of vehicle customization. As you make it through the main missions you’ll unlock multipliers. Multipliers are used to multiply the revenue of your already obtained properties. This is a really nice addition, because it can really help you build up your businesses that already provide high daily revenues and put more money in your company. Buying up properties won’t come quickly either. There’s hundreds of properties to buy so it’ll take you sometime to claim them all. More will continue to unlock as you finish story missions and if you want to buy all the properties and complete the story it’ll take you roughly 4-6 hours.
Eventually you may grow tired of playing as the big CEO and want a change-up. Well have no fear, because there’s a few other characters to play as. You’ll have the chance to do missions as your deadbeat DJ son who’s looking to be a part of the gangster life. If they don’t appeal to you there’s also missions where you get to play as your hitguy who raids farms in Mexico. They make for a decent change if you’re looking for one. I usually found it more fun just sticking with your main business dude.
Buying businesses isn’t the only way to gain some revenue from them. Lots of shops around down will start paying you subscription revenue if you go in and offer them “protection”. When you enter one of these shop’s you initiate a Shakedown. Shakedowns will cause a mini mission to start that has to be completed to gain the shops subscription revenue. These missions can range from dealing with the local gang, to intercepting a delivery truck or just punching one of the store mannequins. These missions are always very short and the extra sum of cash you gain isn’t very high. I still really enjoyed the Shakedowns as they were a nice break from the regular main story missions.
Some businesses will have tasks you can do around the map to increase their daily revenue. For example, to help retail stores you can destroy delivery trucks. If you want your coffee business to gain a little extra daily revenue you can find coffee trucks and bring them back to your coffee shop. These missions help you stay attentive and assure you’re always paying attention to what’s around you.
While it seems like there’s a lot of small tasks that don’t seem to provide a ton of benefit they’re all essential to the game’s enjoyment. The benefit you get from doing this extra missions and tasks aren’t why you do them. You do them, because it’s genuinely fun. The gameplay may get a bit repetitive at some points, but overall everything you do in Shakedown: Hawaii is really enjoyable. I had a blast doing the main missions and little task to build my businesses up. My only problem with the gameplay was I felt it was a little too easy. I wish some of the main story missions would have had a bit more challenge to them.
Besides all of the other odd jobs and tasks you have available, there’s also a few different extras. Around the town there are 30 power cords to collect, because everyone needs 30 power cords right? You’ll have to search all around the map to find them, which gives you another reason to explore everything. There’s also challenges and weapon challenges you can find. These act as time trials where you’ll have to do a specific action or use a specific weapon to blow things up and get points. Depending on how you do you’ll be awarded with a bronze, silver, or gold. Shakedown: Hawaii also keeps track of a ton of your stats during your playthrough. You can find out a bunch of stats such as how many people you popped, or how many “bikeapults” you had (being launched from our motorcycle I presume). I’m a huge fan of games that keep track of steps so I think this is a great bonus.
If there’s one thing that I wish Shakedown: Hawaii had, it would be local co-op. Playing alongside a friend and causing mayhem would make this one of the best co-op experiences on the Switch. Don’t take this as a complaint, because it doesn’t hurt the gameplay not having it. It’s more of a small improvement that would make the game even better.
Shakedown: Hawaii uses 16 bit style graphics that look similar to the style of a SNES game. The Hawaiian setting looks great, along with its sharp color palette. The world is colorful and energetic and I rarely felt like it was lacking character. Everywhere you go you’ll find tons of people and shops to enter so the world is never empty. The effects look great when your exploding vehicle, or taking our your flamethrower and lighting everything up. The soundtrack is also fantastic and is nice to have in the background. Shakedown: Hawaii, demonstrates how to perfectly craft retro style design to create an awesome visual style
During my playthrough I only ran across a few technical issues. Frame rate and resolution never became an issue in handheld or docked mode. I did come across a few bugs where I would get stuck in crowds of people, which left me unable to move. My main concern were the games freezes which forced me to have to hook reboot the game. This only happened three times during my playthrough and, because of frequent autosaves I never lost much progress. Still, it would be nice for these crashes and bugs to be addressed in a future patch.
My time with Shakedown: Hawaii was an action packed Rollercoaster that lead me on a lot of wild times. Its story may not be for everyone and its gameplay is a bit over the top, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Managing your businesses and slowly taking over the city’s economy was a great game mechanic. Although there were a few technical issues and things weren’t overly challenging these problems didn’t hold the game back from its true potential. What I liked most about Shakedown: Hawaii was what makes it different from Grand Theft Auto. There was just the right amount of content in Shakedown Hawaii that I never felt overwhelmed. I could just enjoy and not worry about anything. Shakedown: Hawaii has definitely earned a spot in the games that I will be coming back to.
Crazy & Awesome Gameplay
Right Amount of Content and Not Overwhelming
Managing Businesses Has Never Been So Fun
Wide Variety of Weapons
Challenges Are Fun
So Many Stats!
Awesome Use of Retro Style Visual Design
Shakedowns Make for Great Side Missions
Story May Not Appeal to Everyone
Playing as the Other Characters Isn’t Overly Exciting