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Ever heard of Voltron? You know, the giant, building-sized mech made up of smaller vehicles that magically link together? Even I know what it is, and I don’t really watch anime. Anyway, the thing that makes Voltron so badass is that it’s a mishmash of powerful parts, resulting in something even more formidable.

Sunset Overdrive reminds me of Voltron. A lot.

The Xbox One exclusive action-adventure release brings together mechanics from iconic games to create a bombastic whole.

It’s a fun, playable kitchen sink — a cluttered-yet-calculated sum of goofy fun.


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So, which games would form the Sunset Overtron? Here are my thoughts.

Start with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Activision’s Tony Hawk games revolutionized virtual skateboarding. They introduced innovative concepts, including open levels waiting for you to grind with your pixelated pro. You could pretty much slide across anything with an edge and ollie (jump) from surface to surface. Combos were everything. The best players could traverse a level without touching the ground.

Grinding in THPS HD

Above: Grinding and combos are a big part of the Tony Hawk games.

Image Credit: VentureBeat

Sunset Overdrive worships the grind. A skater probably designed the title’s Sunset City setting. Like in Tony Hawk, sliding around and racking up stylish combos is a huge part of the gameplay. Every ledge, cable, and wire is grindable fodder for your skateboard-like sneakers. The more you scrape along, the more powerful you become — and the harder you are to hit.

Even Overdrive’s punk-filled soundtrack and in-world collectible items remind me of Tony Hawk.

Add Dead Rising

When you think of the third-person action series Dead Rising, two things probably come to mind: zombies and creative weapons. Sunset Overdrive has both of those things.

Instead of zombies, Overdrive has OD, which are humans who’ve mutated after consuming a not-ready-for-primetime energy drink. The OD are pretty much hyperactive zombies, and they constantly mob your character. But, just like in Dead Rising, you have plenty of firepower to dispatch the pesky hordes with.

Making weapons is Dead Rising 3's most addictive gameplay hook

Above: Like Sunset Overdrive, Dead Rising lets you wreak havoc with homemade weapons.

Image Credit: Microsoft / Edelman PR

Overdrive’s weapons have a homemade feel to them as if they were cobbled together using random everyday items — another link to Capcom’s undead-killing simulator. Items you can add to your arsenal include a gun that shoots bowling balls, a fireworks launcher, and a cannon that uses TNT-loaded teddy bears as ammunition.

On a side note, you might also remember some of the quirky characters from the Dead Rising franchise. While not as memorable, Overdrive’s cast has its fair share of nut jobs.

Bring in Saints Row IV

The latest Saints Row game shook up the already-insane foundation of the open-world series, giving you ultimate power. I mean, you basically became a superhero, and the fictional town of Steelport became your play thing. You could dash through the sky, jump up buildings, and obliterate your enemies with ease. And if you felt like getting some work done at the local plastic surgeon, you could do that, too.

Sunset Overdrive gives you a similar sense of omnipotence (and laissez-faire control of your appearance). Your character has a crazy amount of abilities that evolve as the game progresses. Like in SRIV, the city is your jungle gym — which makes getting around pretty fun.

Saints Row IV in action.

Above: Saints Row IV lets you own the city.

Image Credit: Volition

You’ll also notice that both titles have a similar, self-referential approach to humor. They appreciate the silly and the stupid — which leads to chuckling … and cringing.

Complete the megabot with Ratchet and Clank

The Sunset Overtron would not be fully operational without Ratchet and Clank. After all, veteran studio Insomniac Games developed both titles.

ratchet and clank big

Above: Ratchet and Clank made Sunset Overdrive possible.

Image Credit: Sony

Ratchet and Clank paved the way. The third-person PlayStation 2 shooter was all about clever weapons, tight shooting, and zany humor. Those things are at the heart of Insomniac’s Xbox One debut.

More important, however, Overdrive knows it’s a video game — just like Ratchet. As a result, it never takes things too seriously. It just wants you to have fun.

A potent sum of its parts

On paper, Sunset Overdrive might appear too complicated. It jams a lot of stuff into its colorful sandbox. A few hours in, however, you’ll be grinding up the city and its mutant inhabitants with ease. You’ll realize that you’re playing a well-designed, cohesive experience.

Like Voltron, Sunset Overdrive is more effective because of its differing, yet complementary, components. The mechanics fit together nicely.

This brash and dorky hodgepodge actually makes sense, and it’s damn fun.

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