It doesn't matter.
I've never been to Hawaii. I mean, why would I have been? It's really far away.
I have seen Lilo & Stitch, however, which is set in Hawaii, probably, so I feel like I've been there. Unfortunately, this still makes it hard to assess the authenticity of the Hawaii depicted in Shakedown: Hawaii. It mostly looks like your usual top-down city, but with a few more beaches and palm trees and that.
Trying to research some context for the game didn't help much either. I found out that leprosy used to be a bit of a thing there, snakes and billboards are banned, and the island of Oahu boasts the largest "pineapple maze" in the world. Impressive, given we all know how much competition there is for that particular world record!!!!!?!!!!!!
Also, there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet, which is why the Hawaii's state fish, the "Humuhumunukunukuapuaʿa", reads like the result of somebody falling asleep on their keyboard.
Vblank's Retro City Rampage, released a terrifying seven years ago now, was the proverbial cult hit - a GTA-inspired slice of top-down drivin' n' shootin' lunacy, riven through with more pop culture references than you could wave a sonic screwdriver at.
Do you see? Do you see what I did? I made a pop culture reference. I'm like something out of... oh I dunno... Babylon 5!!!!!!!!
Shakedown: Hawaii is a slightly different beast. Fundamentally, the game is the same as far as driving around and shooting things goes. However, with more of a 16-bit aesthetic than its 8-bit-flecked predecessor, Shakedown offers a large, supposedly Hawaiian, city that is stuffed with things to do, businesses to threaten, and weird mini-games to engage in.
Thematically, though, it's very different to Retro City. Rather than affectionate parodies of films, games and TV shows, it takes satirical, none-too-subtle, potshots at corporate America.
Amazon, Starbucks, Netflix, and their thinly-veiled ilk all become the focus of missions, as your main character - the CEO of a struggling corporation - tries to keep up with the times. Muscling in on streaming, online ordering, and gamer energy drinks, he turns to crime (and, inexplicably, TV stardom), to revive his flagging business.
Switching between a trio of characters, sometimes at the behest of the game, sometimes at will, it results in rapid-fire missions - muggings, burglary, destroying delivery trucks, starting protection rackets, stealing coffee - and a sort of light resource management element, in which you're encouraged to buy up properties and businesses, to provide a steady flow of income.
Missions are almost Wario Ware-esque in their brevity, and the pace is breakneck. Going from one mission to another - without a pause inbetween to, y'know, commit a few casual crimes - is bewildering. I almost began shouting at the game to calm down at one point, it's that manic...
But nicely, that sort of ties into the theme, of a man out of time, trying to keep pace with the modern world.
Admittedly, there's not a great deal of challenge to be had from Shakedown: Hawaii.
Some missions are tougher than others, but it won't be long before most of the city is part of your business portfolio, and you've got millions in the bank. Even the cops aren't much of a threat, seemingly giving up their pursuit of you, or dropping tokens which will wipe your wanted level clean when collected.
However, looking for challenge here misses the point. This is a game to be played and experienced, not to be wrestled with.
You can do what you want, when you want, and the sheer amount of variety, coupled to how satisfying to controls are (nicely, you can even jump on people's heads, Mario-style), and the breakneck pace, make it the perfect game for those with any sort of attention span deficit.
It might not be as funny as it thinks it is, but the cynical, unsubtle, satire will likely raise a misanthropic smirk or two from most of us.
SCORE: 50 States out of 60