Amstrad Action


Rasterscan

Author: Bob Wade
Publisher: Mastertronic
Machine: Amstrad CPC464/664/6128

 
Published in Amstrad Action #21

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Originality is one of the most precious qualities a game can have, so it's pleasing to see that Mastertronic is not only producing excellent budget games, but packing them with originality too. Among this little gem's features are digitized pictures, a strange method of control and some mind-boggling tasks.

The ship Rasterscan has been badly damaged. You must tidy up the mess and stop it plunging into the nearest star. "You", incidentally, are a spherical droid whose only known program is for repairing toasters. That leaves you with an awful lot of work to do if the ship is to be repaired.

A small map of the ship shows your position and some parts of the internal structure. It doesn't show the maze of pipes that runs through the interior but always does show your position. You can move your spherical self around, spinning on your axis and bouncing off walls and pipes. The sphere suffers from quite a bit of inertia but there's nothing that can harm you by being bumped into.

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In order to repair the ship you have to perform three main tasks: repair the generator, repair the engines and steer the ship out of danger. This isn't easy and requires a lot of puzzling and discovery on your part to unravel the game's mysteries.

As well as the pipes the screens have fancy design backgrounds and digitized pictures of various instruments. There are "switches" which look like the heads of spanners, engine terminals, a generator and some oil-drums. There is even a tape deck, flanked by two switches, which can be used for saving and loading the game - brilliant way of doing it!

The switches are used in a delightful way You just settle the sphere down into the spanner head and press Fire. They control several features within the game and learning which-controls-what is important, because using the wrong switch can end the game.

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The first task is to repair a leak in the generator's fuel pipe. To do that you've got to find some replacement pipe and get outside the ship. Getting outside won't be a problem; getting back in will. Once that's done you have to repair the engines, and that involves more pipe repair. What you've got to work out is how to get hold of the repair tools.

The engines are turned on and off with switches; so is the scanner which shows the ship's position. You'll have a good deal of frustration finding out which ones to use - but once learnt, never forgotten.

Some switches control the locks for doors so that when you settle into them and activate you're presented with a colour-coded puzzle that has to be solved. You have to activate the eight sections of a hexagon to the same colour, complicated by the fact that the sections cycle through several colours and alter in sequences. Some locks are harder than others, depending on the alteration pattern. It's a bit like trying to solve Rubik's cube, only not as tough.

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There are three indicators on the display: fuel, power and danger. The one that will cause the most immediate problem is the power gauge running down. However, in the long term the danger gauge sets the effective time limit for completing tasks.

The graphics are excellent, abstract and attractive. The gameplay is superb, combining the best elements of puzzling with an enjoy-able control method. The weird environment and the original features like switches make game special. It's quite stunning for a budget game and is worth £2 of anyone's money to experience it.

Second Opinion

An odd game, to start with. You are left pretty much in the dark as to what your task is. After a few minutes bashing your head against the wall you'll get the gist of things. The spinning ball is extremely well-animated. It's nice to see some digitized pictures incorporated into the game. But above all, the game is original and cheap.

Green Screen View

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Clear.

First Day Target Score

Repair generator pipe.

Verdict

Graphics 88%
P. Good use of digitized pictures.
P. Interesting abstract ship design.

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Sonics 48%
P. Good title tune.
N. Few in-game effects.

Grab Factor 86%
P. Fascinating to explore.
P. Puzzles are very intriguing.

Staying Power 86%
N. Complicated tasks and lots of pipe-mapping.
N. Can leave you confused and clueless at times.

Overall 88%
P. Great save/load facility.
P. Originality and price unbeatable.

Bob Wade

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