Commodore User


Rastan
By Imagine
Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Commodore User #53

Rastan Saga

Last year's rash of quality coin-ops concentrated for the most part on dedicating consoles to racing machines and imaginative simulations. Their wildfire success meant that most of the ordinary stand up machines were swept aside in the rush for the thrills and spills of supersonic flight or 0-60 acceleration.

There were exceptions. Games like Rastan Saga and R-Type would have shone if they'd been housed in cabinets constructed from egg boxes and squeezy bottles. Their acquisition for conversion was inevitable, with Ocean swooping for Rastan at the height of its popularity.

Students of the arcade machine will remember the Taito game as a kind of scrolling Barbarian (without the many tasteless features that made the home computer game so infamous). As with most coin-ops it came with the flimsiest excuse of a story. That's just as well because I don't think I could bear to read a gothic novella about a warrior king pursuing an evil wizard. Rastan Saga relies instead on brilliant graphics and gameplay as sharp as a meat cleaver.

Rastan

The game begins with Rastan, a tanned hunk of royal beef who looks like he could breeze through marines training, set on a mountainside facing an onslaught of weirdos all intent on mounting his knackers on their trophy wall. If he is to make through to the final battle with the evil Karg (a man clearly named after his father's cough) he has to leave behind him a trail of dead gigas, bugs, chimeras, snakes, bats, skeletons and serpents.

There are six sections in all, taking you through a castle and its antechamber before you face the wizard in his guise as a soul-sucking dragon. The action is a typical combination of walking, hacking and jumping around various levels. There are ropes to climb at various points, plus pools of water and lava which you have to negotiate along the way.

As he progresses, Rastan can find new weapons and gain other useful items. The Shield reduces damage and The Mantle cuts damage by half, while The Armour stops all damage for a limited time and Medicine replenishes energy. Watch out for the poison though, as it reduces your energy.

Rastan

Each level has a big nasty waiting for you should you get that far. Horrible grebo-like winged men and character is of a reasonable size there is little detail of definition about him. Close inspection reveals a sort of orange puff pastry on his legs and biceps. This is also true of many of the adversaries Rastan meets. They bear only a passing resemblance to their names. A swift glance at the work on the figure in Predator or Platoon proves what can be done with some effort. Another irritating feature is the way in which Rastan floats a couple of millimetres off the ground all the time, for which there seems to be no explanation. Similarly there are a number of unnecessary glitches.

Having said this, the graphics do improve as you progress into the game, and that razor-sharp gameplay is still there. And let me tell you, it's tough. It's also enormous and although some of the backgrounds repeat themselves it represents quite a programming achievement, multi-load or not. The hardest points are not always the big monsters at the end of the level either. Getting past the bug that waits by the water on the first level is nasty and swinging across lava pits on the ropes is a real pig. Fortunately, there is a continue play option which make a lot of difference to the playability. Getting sent back to the beginning of a multi-load could have resulted in the computer being lobbed out the window along with an unfortuate staff writer.

Rastan Saga is good entertaining stuff and it'll keep hardened arcade fiends going for a long time. The most recent batch of conversions have been a varied bunch with Ocean's Combat School topping the lot. This isn't quite in the same class but its depth makes it a big challenge.

Mike Pattenden

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