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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

I thought Rastan was a dread-locked adventurer eternally searching for the lost treasure of Lord Bob-Marley, but as it turns out he's a muscle-bound loin-cloth clad clod just like all the others. Still and all, Rastan is an excellent swords-and-sorcery slash-'em-up. well converted from the original Taito coin-op and worth seeking out on budget if you didn't get it full price in 1987, or on one of the subsequent compilations.

The world of Maranna is one of hardy barbarians, and the hardiest of them all, the one who can eat FOUR Weetabix for breakfast, is King Rastan. But, on dear! An evil wizard (yes, heard it all before, get on with it) has unleashed the demons of Hell in order to overthrow Rastan, who must battle his way to the castle of Karg (I kid you not) and defeat the soul-sucking dragon... great!

What you get is an enormous scrolling playing area including ramparts, rope ladders, pits, mountains and castellations. Use of colour in the backgrounds is good, although the characters are sensibly kept monochrome to reduce colour clashes.

Rastan must make his way along, swinging his mighty axe, Axe, to lop bits off various skeletons, lizard men, warriors and demons, who die in amusing splashes of gore. Joystick or keyboard controls allow you to jump up, left and right; crouch under flying weapons; swing your axe; and jab your sword down or up (they don't like it up 'em, these demons). The action's a bit repetitive, but every level is different.

Additionally you get to collect all sorts of magical goodies; shields which reduce damage a bit, mantles which reduce damage lots, armour which stops all damage for a limited time, medicine which replenishes energy, gold tokens which top your energy up to maximum, jewels for bonus points, rings to speed up weapon movements, and necklaces to double points. There are a couple to look out for, though; poison depletes your energy, and a mysterious magical rod can do you good or harm. Each level also has a powerful guardian which has to be defeated before you can continue.

While most of the business involves simply hacking to death everything which moves before it gets you, there are some very slightly more intellectual elements to Rastan, involving working out how to negotiate obstacles such as pits of fire and crushing blocks. You must also defeat challenging enemies by utilising mysterious powers, so mysterious that I haven't got the faintest idea what they do or how to activate them.

On the whole though it's just mindless violence, and this is completely fine. Rastan's a game for Real Men - check it out if your loin-cloth is tight enough.

Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Sword-and-slasher epic well worth checking out if you're dying for a slash.


Screenshot Text

ARK! Too high! The fierce lion has skilfully ducked your ferocious attack. Now for some really intense battle action.