In fact, it's a deeply authentic 8-bit game that uses Grand Theft Auto as a template because that is not easy to do. If this was a movie, it'd be something like Pi or Primer: ambitious projects that succeed on their merits, but also have a deeper, richer level of appreciation for what was achieved. These projects could only be finished by combining a blazing passion for the medium with the skills to accomplish their goals, and indeed to set them properly in the first place.
I had the chance to ask Brian: what drove you more? Was it the desire to finish an engineering feat, the monstrously bad-ass compiler that creates NES games which run on natively on multiple platforms? Or was it the desire to finish a well-rounded game experience? The unspoken question was this: was he just creating tools because he wanted to make a game, was he just making a game to use his tools, or was it actually evidence of an all-encompassing passion that defies easy categorization into "artist/engineer/designer?"
His answer? It started with a passion for the engineering. And when he had achieved that goal, his passion became making the game. Along the way, he learned how to make good art by referencing masters of the NES format. That was the answer I was looking for: he was excited about all of it.
I don't know what to call people who can code and design and art. They don't see Impassible Barriers when wandering new lands, they just see Problems To Solve in the pursuit of a Grand Idea, and subsist on the drug released by learning. But we speak a similar language, and know the same muse, her body built of ones and zeroes.
To build a mountain because it wasn't there. Then climb it, and build a castle at its peak. That is the essence of the passion of game creation. And Brian's work on Retro City Rampage is the epitome of that.