Shakedown: Hawaii for the Nintendo Switch Review – If You Can’t Beat Them, Own Them!

Shakedown: Hawaii

Continuing on from the huge success that was Retro City Rampage, Vblank Entertainment originally announced and was set to release Shakedown: Hawaii way back in April 2017.

Yes that’s right, almost 2 years after the initial release date we finally get our hands on this high quality, content loaded beauty.

As the head of the Feeble Corporation who has clearly been far too busy living the life excess. Life, trends and technology have progressed faster than he anticipated and is now facing complete bankruptcy.

Together with your deadbeat DJ son and a shady business consultant in South America, you must start to rebuild your empire before total collapse.

By far the best aspect of Shakedown: Hawaii is how it plays. Instant comparisons will be drawn with the original Grand Theft Auto games both in aesthetics and how it plays.

You can jump straight into story mode where there are hundreds of missions to complete, all with hilarious results. Each mission you complete unlocks other real estate opportunities.

Bored of doing story missions? No problem. There are over 80 establishments to shakedown for protection money. Each come with their own funny dialogue and scenarios, some easier than others.

Almost everything you see on the map can be purchased. Shops, garages, houses and apartment complexes, the sky’s the limit. As you progress through the campaign you’ll unlock special multipliers. These can be added to each establishment to increase its revenue.

Everything ran very smooth in both handheld and docked mode, which is always nice to report. But I preferred docked mode as some of the sprites can be a little small to see in handheld.

It’s the empire building side of the game that is truly the strongest part of the game for me. Whether you’re buying up everything, adding multipliers or taking part in mini games to get your face on TV, it’s extremely addictive.


Those familiar with the GTA franchise will feel instantly at home as it’s mostly the same layout. You control your character with the left analogue stick, jump with B, enter/exit vehicles with X and attack with Y.

They’ve added an auto lock on system by simply pressing Y to shoot, which comes in very handy. You can choose to use the right analogue stick, essentially making it a twin stick shooter.

Car controls can be set to automatic, in which you control the car with the left stick. Or manual which is the more traditional style. The triggers are brake and accelerate and the left stick steers the vehicle.

Despite having lots of buttons and control options, I found they were mapped really well and intuitive. They also felt very tight and responsive especially given this style of game.

Throughout the 100 or so story missions you’ll be required to play as one to three characters. You’ll mainly play as the CEO, who’s responsible for building his empire and managing the business side of things.

Every so often you’ll play as the son who mainly has fetch quest style missions and is desperately seeking some much needed “gangster cred”

Lastly is the business consultant. You’ll fly him over to South America, here it is his job to keep the other cartels in line. He’ll report back all of his findings to you which in turn benefits your company.

This time around Vblank have opted for a 16bit look. This is personally my favourite style out of the two. But don’t let that fool you. The attention to detail is staggering.

Whether it’s the more mundane things like trees and plants blowing in the breeze, to the litter on the street, or civilians chatting on mobile phones. My personal favourite is the people using selfie sticks in the street.

It has an understandably very vibrant and colourful pallet, which is somewhat of an understatement given the 1980’s inspired Hawaii.

The soundtrack is absolutely spot on. Perfectly nailing that Miami Vice esque 80’s synth pop. All the tracks on offer completely immerse you into the experience. From the heavier tones during missions, to the almost elevator style music whilst in the shops, it just works.

Add to that, the fact that you can change car radio stations with the touch of a button, giving you the choose of music you want.

Each of the guns, whilst not packing too much of a punch, at least all sounded varied and unique. Explosions on the other hand were nice and punchy. The various different vehicle engine sounds and terrified, shrieking pedestrians was also a nice touch.

Weighing in at £17.99 or $19.99 USD I can see some taking issue with this price, given the aesthetic. Though I feel with the sheer wealth of content on offer here, I can say the price is pretty fair.

With 111 main missions, 15 side quests, 83 shakedowns and 415 properties to purchase, I think it’s safe to say you’ll be busy. Combine all this with the various rampage missions dotted about town and you’ve got dozens of hours of content here.

I love Shakedown: Hawaii. It’s such a simple pick up and play style of game and I was hooked from the very start.

I do have a feeling that some may find the business mechanics a little too grindy. Especially the repetitive nature of the many, many shakedowns on offer.

The humour throughout is also outstanding. It’s a great example of art imitating life and the tongue in cheek satire cements the fact.

No aspect of media is safe from a good ol’ ribbing. Whether that be reality TV shows, mainstream gaming or the internet in general. Just as an example; there is a mission for the son that requires you to play a new video game. But in order to play the game, you must first sit through a day 1 patch!

All in all a very enjoyable and rewarding experience filled to the brim with content, humour, collectibles, mini games and yes, shakedowns. I enjoyed every minute off it and can’t wait to get back to it.

Highly Recommended

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Reviewed by Neil (Micramanic) on the Nintendo Switch, game provided by Vblank Entertainment.



Gamer enthusiast, huge Nintendo fan and of anything retro. Fulfilling my dream of writing game reviews, thanks to AnyDayReviews.

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