Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
RASTAN SAGA • TAITO • £24 • IMPORT
The time for talking is over. Compromise is no longer an option. They’ve pushed you too far this time, and now they’re going to pay for it. The thugs, dweebs, nasal brains and ball-scratchers are running riot in the world of Semia, crushing all folk that stand in their way. While on the rampage, they happened to bump into the virgin princess of the kingdom, and with an enormous reputation for evil deeds, the geeks have kidnapped her and thrown her in the castle dungeons.
Luckily for the princess, you’ve always had a bit of a thing for her, so you wrap on your loin cloth, grab the nearest sword and set off on a treacherous journey to the kingdom’s castle. But the path you must take is not a simple one. Along the trail are untold horrors which the wastoids have dispatched to hinder you. Ready to slash?
No flash intro, no options, just one massive mythical romp through 18 levels of medieval mayhem. The game’s façade is a particularly deceptive one as it hides what is possibly the best arcade adventure on the Game Gear so far.
Your game starts in impressive fashion, with the sword-wielding hero dropping from the skies into the action. Behind him runs an impressive range of backgrounds, from snow and ice to fire and brimstone, each with atmospheric hazards such as icicles, rivers of flames and snakes.
The sprites make the most of the Gear’s colour capacity with attractive montages forming the backgrounds. The main character sprite is also incredibly facile and smooth. Sound is superb, with some of the best tunes and effects I’ve ever heard on the GG. The level tunes are questlike with high and low points reflecting where you are. For example, fanfares accompany you in the wilderness but down in the ice caves the music is eerie.
Speed is very important in Rastan Saga and it is surprising the difference in completion time of rounds. The first section can be finished in less than 30 seconds, while the sixth is a much longer, arduous task. This is an essential quality because after getting so far, you want to get back to the higher levels as quickly as possible. Luckily, the seven continues start you at the beginning of your present round.
Rastan Saga should keep the average gamesplayer entertained and compelled for quite some time. With 18 rounds of great graphics, impressive sound and a difficulty setting that’s spot on, it’s just a shame Sega haven’t picked this up for an official release.
To break the floor rocks, jump high, push down and press fire.
To kill the lion on level one, stand above it and keep thrusting downwards as it passes. The flaming sword is by far the best weapon followed by the axe. Jumping whilst pressing up and fire increases your reach.
Watch the demo for clues on where to go and what to pick up.
These items improve Rastan's fighting skills and provide points bonuses. The ring is the least effective followed by the staff and finally the cloak. The effects only last a short while, so pick up everything.
The axe, brain-biter, is fast and deadly. One swipe kills all.
The mace is less powerful but affords a longer reach.
Excaliber lets you burn enemies at a distance. Nice!
A heath potion replenishes Rastan's flagging energy. The fuller the bottle, the more good it does Rastan.
Beware of poison, it can take what little life you have left.
Shield, cloak and armour will protect Rastan. For a limited time our hero will be impervious to hostile blades and venom. Particularly useful against the level guardians.
A huge snarling lion lunges at your flesh intent on dismembering you. The level one guardian is easy to defeat once a system has been established.
Whooah, don't fall, it's a long way down. Our agile barbarian finds tackling trecherous logs over bottomless caverns all in a day's work.
Pausing for thought by an open archway, Rastan contemplates the horrors ahead in this bleak castle on level two.
Ras Tafari was the former emperor of Ethiopia.