Commodore User


Rasterscan

Author: Bohdan Buciak
Publisher: Mastertronic
Machine: Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Commodore User #46

Rasterscan

Rasterscan must be the product of a weird and tormented mind, whose plan is to turn our minds into a similar mass of jelly. And for the bargain basement price, there's plenty of torment to the pound.

It's difficult to know how to describe this game and the blurb writers seem to have had similar trouble. They call it an adventure without text, which it isn't. It's a mightily weird strategy game that involves solving puzzles and trying to think logically.

The story goes like this. The Rasterscan is a broken down spaceship that's drifting helplessly towards a star and imminent destruction. The only functioning thing aboard is an MSB, a service robot that looks like a metallic beachball with eyes. You must take command of the MSB, repair the ship and steer it to safety.

Rasterscan

Reading the blurb really is essential with this game. Without it, there's no hope. And even with it, there's not very much. The initial problem is that the MSB is running on its own battery power which will soon run out. So its first job is to fix the ship's generator. The generator runs off liquid fuel and it's conked out before there's a hole in the pipe.

Next step is to fix the four engines. Then on to the bridge of the ship where the scanner is to be found. Switching this on will display a view of the ship and its surroundings. Finally, it's on to the control room to set about taking charge of the ship. According to the blurb, "the game is complete when Rasterscan safely reaches the edge of the Scanner". There you have it, now to what the game is really like.

Your MSB floats around weightless inside a hollow craft that's full of nothing except bare metal surfaces and differently coloured pipes. It's more than a bit spooky in there. The MSB spins and bounces around under joystick control. There are several receptacles dotted around the ship which the MSB can float into. Press the Fire button at this stage and something will or won't happen.

Rasterscan

As you blunder around the ship, you'll see that some of the pipes have holes in them. It makes sense to try to repair them. Somewhere on the ship is a store from which you can get pipe pieces. Only pieces of the same colour will repair the pipe. Getting to the store is not easy because several routes are obstructed.

Entering a receptacle by one of the locked doors brings up a puzzle which you must solve before going through - and solve again when you leave. The puzzle involves setting a ring of differently coloured sectors to the same colour. This takes some brain-bashing, but you can take as long as you want - battery power is used only when you're controlling the MSB. By the way, you have to solve a puzzle once you're into it. There's no way of backing out. To add to the agony, each puzzle is solved differently.

What's weird about the game is that you don't know what's happening most of the time. One of the puzzle locks open an outside door that leads into deep space - you could wander about out there forever. You can also wander round the outside of the ship. Not a good idea, since you may never find the entrance again.

Rasterscan

Suitable music adds to the spooky atmosphere. So do the bare metallic and generally sparse graphics. I guess things will improve if and when I get to turn the scanner on.

The programmers have thoughtfully provided a save game option. But, true to form, they conceal it as a receptacle at the top right of the ship. This function is particularly useful because solving this game is going to take quite some time.

Rasterscan is probably a very good game with lots of challenge and depth, but it will only appeal to those who enjoy solving demon-like puzzles and who have a great deal of patience. For the price it's an absolute bargain.

Bohdan Buciak

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