Sometimes an unknown game is ported for some puzzling reason. I remember playing City Connection for NES back in the day and I haven't seen much of it since. It's now available for PlayStation 4 in all of its arcade glory, but after playing it... you'll wonder why.
City Connection is played by guiding an automatically moving car. This is accomplished by changing its direction and jumping. You know how cars jump all the time, right? Well, they better be able to when the roads are floating in the air in segments. Thankfully, you can jump even higher by holding up while tapping the jump button. The point of each stage is to cover every road segment entirely by changing its colour as you cruise along. Of course, you're not alone on the streets of City Connection since plenty of vehicles such as ambulances, taxis, and police cars will try to stop your joyride. However, you can launch collected oil drums at them to make them spin out of control. If you run into them at this point then they get kicked out of the playfield and you collect some sweet points. You have to watch out for cats, too, because you lose a life when you run over one. That'll show you for your reckless driving. Right about now, I know what's on your mind, "Are there balloons involved?" As a matter of fact, yes. Collecting balloons will give you bonus points and if you manage to get all three in a stage then you'll warp to a random stage.
Even for a 1985 arcade game, the visuals leave a lot to be desired. Stages will take you to various cities such as New York, London, and Paris and each features stereotypical landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower. On the surface, it all looks detailed enough, but that's the problem. In some stages, there is simply too much detail in the backgrounds that it makes you have to squint to see the foreground action. On the plus side, your car is animated smoothly as it rides along, turns, and jumps. The music sounds like it's lifted straight from a Sega Genesis game and it's pretty cool for such an obscure title. Most sound effects will get on your nerves as they don't seem to match the action that they're supposed to correspond to. Jumping makes a crashing sound, hitting your car on the ceiling sounds like a katana being unsheathed, murdering the cat triggers a jolly little tune, and the effect for throwing oil drums should have been used for jumping. Overall, City Connection is a mixed bag with acceptable yet often visually chaotic graphics and nifty music mixed with awful and out of place sound effects.
When you first start playing City Connection, you'll probably get game over faster than in Q*bert. As you progress and get into the groove, it actually starts to grow on you. You may even make it past a few stages after a handful of attempts. Once you get to a stage that you haven't seen before and outdo your previous high score, it feels rewarding. That being said, the fun quickly starts to die down when you reach this point. Considering there is no extra content, you may soon regret purchasing such a short-lived experience. There are leaderboards available, but only the top 100 players need apply. You'll require a significant amount of practice if you want to join the ranks of these professional retro gamers.
Finally, I should mention that City Connection suffers from one major gameplay flaw which is the jump mechanic. Jumping is simply unresponsive. In order to jump successfully, you'll need to be going a certain speed. Seeing as you change direction frequently, being able to get up to that speed can be irritating as you watch your little car fall to the ground. This forces you to hold up on the directional pad as you tap the jump button frantically like a madman just to perform a simple hop. Once you do, your car might miss the ledge or have its roof scrape along the ceiling. When that happens, it's difficult to not turn off the game and play something more worthwhile.
Even though it came out of left field, City Connection may find a welcome home for a few retro arcade enthusiasts. However, its annoying jump mechanics, severe lack of content, and sheer mediocrity make it a difficult game to widely recommend.
- + Simple gameplay slowly grows on you
- + Progressing to further stages and getting higher scores is somewhat satisfying
- + Radical Sega Genesis-style music
- - Only consists of one subpar arcade game with almost no extra content
- - Jumping is incredibly frustrating
- - Leaderboards can only hold 100 players