Coin-op hero Rastan, king of Maranna, is the only man tough enough to liberate his kingdom from the evil influence of the wizard Karg. In an attempt to gain control of the barbarian race the nefarious necromancer has released a host of beasts and demons upon the land.
Protected only by leather and bearing his trusty sword, Rastan hacks his way across a horizontally scrolling landscape of underground passages, grim citadels and rocky cliffs. Unexplored parts of this hostile terrain are connected by flights of steep steps and ropes swinging perilously over lakes of fire. Remote areas boast deadly streams and lava flows: contact with either of these results in instant death.
The wizard has enlisted a grisly crowd of allies, ranging from docile looking lions to ghoulishly aggressive demons. Their instincts are to attack on sight, and the more humanoid beings have seemingly unlimited shot power.
Rastan can find and collect a number of helpful items including more powerful weapons, bonus shields, mantles and also medicines which reduce vulnerability. Some enemies carry jewellery which bear a variety of mysterious powers, and more devious opponents attempt to fool the warrior king by carrying poison in the form of a magic potion.
Each level hides a particularly powerful adversary which must be defeated before passing on to the next. A beating heart and attached energy gauge record health status and should all of Rastan's five incarnations be lost, the player is given the option of starting again on the last level visited. This option is offered three times after which Rastan's quest is started again from the beginning.
The barbarian king's mission reaches its climax in a final confrontation with Karg himself. The wizard takes on the most powerful form he knows: the body of a soul-sucking dragon. Only the most legendary of heroes has the power to pierce his hide.
Hacking and hewing through hellfire demons, Rastan the dragon-slayer, barbarian warrior supreme, slashes his way through some surprisingly subtle designer graphics. Pastel shades and different gradations of grey, pierced by sudden splurges of red, turn Maranna into a bleak and hostile world. Rastan himself is smoothly animated and all the different ducking, fighting and jumping actions are clearly defined.
A game which concentrates on killing marauding fiends is obviously limited in terms of depth but the swinging ropes and the bonus collection system ensure ample variety. Difficulty is well graded (the first level even has a practice rope) and your first go takes you just far enough to keep you hooked. As you're given the chance to start again where the last game ended there's no laborious repetition of levels you already know off by heart. Rastan is slick and compelling - anyone remotely interested in the barbarian cause and those new to the sport have nothing at all to lose.
I'm all for hack 'n' slay type games, and Rastan is just the ticket. Graphically good, a macho Conan style main character cleaves his way across a variety of solid, smooth scrolling backdrops. Adversaries are also well animated, and include skeletons, lions, bats, and snakes - all as mean as hell and eager to contribute to the barbarian's demise. One small thing that did annoy me was the intrusive and time-consuming multiload. In the end I found this most tiresome, but it fortunately didn't spoil my enjoyment of the game. Rastan is a great game for all you closet mad axe-wielders out there.
Rastan is another coin-op that doesn't seem to have the same addictiveness on the Spectrum than it does on the original machine. The graphics are detailed enough and look good on the screen, but the unrealistic way Rastan moves around the world of Maranna and the lack of colour is very off-putting. There's a feeble tune at the beginning and weak spot effects throughout the game. Rastan contains some of the best enemy sprites I've seen for ages, but although they look really vicious, when you run into them you just go straight through as if nothing had happened! In some places you could mistake it for a large version of one of Software Projects' classic Jet Set Willy games because there are swinging ropes that are almost impossible to hold on to. Another drawback is the terrible multi-load that destroys any excitement that the game may have had. Rastan is disappointing.