by Ed Knight, Jas C. Brooke, Paul Murray, Tom Lanigan, Bob Wakelin
Imagine Software Ltd
Crash Issue 51, Apr 1988   page(s) 20

Producer: Imagine
Retail Price: £7.95 cassette, £14.95 disk
Author: Icon Design from a Taito coin-op

Coin-op hero Rastan, king of Maranna, is the only man tough enough to liberate his kingdom from the evil influence of the wizard Karg. In an attempt to gain control of the barbarian race the nefarious necromancer has released a host of beasts and demons upon the land.

Protected only by leather and bearing his trusty sword, Rastan hacks his way across a horizontally scrolling landscape of underground passages, grim citadels and rocky cliffs. Unexplored parts of this hostile terrain are connected by flights of steep steps and ropes swinging perilously over lakes of fire. Remote areas boast deadly streams and lava flows: contact with either of these results in instant death.

The wizard has enlisted a grisly crowd of allies, ranging from docile looking lions to ghoulishly aggressive demons. Their instincts are to attack on sight, and the more humanoid beings have seemingly unlimited shot power.

Rastan can find and collect a number of helpful items including more powerful weapons, bonus shields, mantles and also medicines which reduce vulnerability. Some enemies carry jewellery which bear a variety of mysterious powers, and more devious opponents attempt to fool the warrior king by carrying poison in the form of a magic potion.

Each level hides a particularly powerful adversary which must be defeated before passing on to the next. A beating heart and attached energy gauge record health status and should all of Rastan's five incarnations be lost, the player is given the option of starting again on the last level visited. This option is offered three times after which Rastan's quest is started again from the beginning.

The barbarian king's mission reaches its climax in a final confrontation with Karg himself. The wizard takes on the most powerful form he knows: the body of a soul-sucking dragon. Only the most legendary of heroes has the power to pierce his hide.


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: superb use of BRIGHTs with detailed drawings of all the large characters
Sound: feeble title tune with bash and crunch effects

Hacking and hewing through hellfire demons, Rastan the dragon-slayer, barbarian warrior supreme, slashes his way through some surprisingly subtle designer graphics. Pastel shades and different gradations of grey, pierced by sudden splurges of red, turn Maranna into a bleak and hostile world. Rastan himself is smoothly animated and all the different ducking, fighting and jumping actions are clearly defined. A game which concentrates on killing marauding fiends is obviously limited in terms of depth but the swinging ropes and the bonus collection system ensure ample variety. Difficulty is well graded (the first level even has a practice rope) and your first go takes you just far enough to keep you hooked. As you're given the chance to start again where the last game ended there's no laborious repetition of levels you already know off by heart. Rastan is slick and compelling - anyone remotely interested in the barbarian cause and those new to the sport have nothing at all to lose.

I'm all for hack 'n'slay type games, and Rastan is just the ticket. Graphically good, a macho Conan style main character cleaves his way across a variety of solid, smooth scrolling backdrops. Adversaries are also well animated, and include skeletons, lions, bats, and snakes - all as mean as hell and eager to contribute to the barbarian's demise. One small thing that did annoy me was the intrusive and time-consuming multiload. In the end I found this most tiresome, but it fortunately didn't spoil my enjoyment of the game. Rastan is a great game for all you closet mad axe-wielders out there.

Rastan is another coin-op that doesn't seem to have the same addictiveness on the Spectrum than it does on the original machine. The graphics are detailed enough and look good on the screen, but the unrealistic way Rastan moves around the world of Maranna and the lack of colour is very off-putting. There's a feeble tune at the beginning and weak spot effects throughout the game. Rastan contains some of the best enemy sprites I've seen for ages, but although they look really vicious, when you run into them you just go straight through as if nothing had happened! In some places you could mistake it for a large version of one of Software Projects' classic Jet Set Willy games because there are swinging ropes that are almost impossible to hold on to. Mother drawback is the terrible multiload that destroys any excitement that the game may have had. Rastan is disappointing.

Presentation: 80%
Graphics: 85%
Playability: 83%
Addictive Qualities: 79%
Overall: 85%

Summary: General Rating: A playable arcade tie-in, although lacking in variation and content - the multi-load is also annoying.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 82, Nov 1990   page(s) 49

The Hit Squad
£2.99 re-release

The world of Maranna has been ravaged by evil wizard Karg by opening the portals of hell and letting demons and monsters escape. Only one man can rescue the world from certain destruction, Rastan (that's you, matey!)!

Rastan is so very playable, you can't put it down! All levels are packed with impressive demons and scenery and every sprite is well animated. It has plenty of the neat touches that keep players coming back for more. The beating heart that represents your health is a good idea and there's also a continue option, so no more kicking your computer when you have to start all over again! The 48K game is slightly different to the 128K version in that each level has to be loaded in separately and you lose the music. It's one of the better re-releases this month, so it you have a bit of spare cash lying about send it to me (oi! -Ed)!! Erm, I mean go and get this...

Overall: 83%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 30, Jun 1988   page(s) 63

Reviewer: Jonathan Davies

Rastan must be one of the oddest looking blokes I've ever seen. He wanders round wearing nothing more than a pair of furry Y-fronts with kinky metal trim, and his hair obviously hasn't been near a bottle of Head And Shoulders for months. What's more, this guy is meant to be the King of Maranna! Just think of the outcry if our Liz turned up to open a new railway station looking like this! Maps its just as well that he's a bit macho actually, as his kingdom has been over-run by all sorts of horrible monsters, sent by the evil Karg, and Rastan is the only chap brave enough to volunteer to get rid of 'em.

Rastan (the game) is actually Imagine's spanking (Yurk! Yurk!) new arcade conversion, and all that I've just told you is in fact the plot to it. The coin-op is one of the best around at the moment, a great consumer of ten pees, and this conversion has managed to capture most of the intestine-spreading, brain-shredding atmosphere of the original, which is no mean feat.

Armed with a steely stare and one of the biggest choppers (Kwoo-ooar, eh?) this side of the USS Nimitz, Rastan sets out on his journey through six scrolling levels, slicing his foe into pieces thin enough to stick a stamp on and post back to their evil master.

For the first few minutes he wanders around out in the open, manipulating his weapon and flashing his biceps. Nothing too challenging here, just a few thousand demons to slash up, ropes to climb up and down and lava pits to leap over, and he usually comes out of it with a few lives to spare.

Things hot up a bit once he's made it to the castle, where hell have to confront some much nastier nasties, not to mention bats which flit around causing untold damage to our hero's anatomy.

Rastan is more than just a horizontal scroller. In fact it scrolls all over the place as you climb up and down ropes, prance over pits of fire and explore underground caverns. All this is drawn out very nicely, graphics being one of the game's strong points. Or should that be even stronger points? Everything about this game seems to have had a good dose of spit and polish, not to mention body tissue.

But aren't we forgetting something here? That's right! Who would dare to write a game these days where there are no add-ons to collect? And there's no shortage of these in this game. Most of the things you can pick up either reduce damage to Rastan or increase your score, but if you're lucky you might find the odd mace to swing around, or some fire-balls to throw at the enemy.

But enough of all this praise! There must be a few probs somewhere, eh peeps? Well, multiloading's never any fun, but it's obviously compulsory for this one, what with all its billions of different screens (all accompanied by some great music on the 128, I might add). A re-define keys option would have been nice, as the ones that you're stuck with are pretty scummy if you're a member of the anti-joystick faction. Other than that, no grumbles.

It's nice to see that with coin-op conversions breeding faster than gerbils (and I should know - I've had experience of both!), there are still a few which stand out of the crowd. Rastan is definitely one of these, and although it doesn't quite manage to disprove the old theory that you can't cram eight million megabytes of memory and 14 custom graphics chips into something the size (and shape) of a beermat, you'd be a total twazzock to miss it.

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Summary: Swipe! Sclrupsch! A bit gory, but nonetheless a great game. Just watch out for flying limbs!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 59, Nov 1990   page(s) 54,55


Looking for something cheap? How about RICH PELLEY (now at half price - a snip)? Er, on second thoughts...

Hit Squad
Reviewer: Rich Pelley

Seeing as Rastan is a hack-'em-up, this looks like the ideal opportunity to crack lots of "Are you dying for a slash?" and "Time to get your chopper out" jokes. Er... (Don't you dare. Ed) Oh. Perhaps not. Suppose we'd better plunge right in then.

Rastan? It's bllmmin' marvellous! I mean, even Jonathan liked it, Megagaming it back in '88, which must say something for it. Okay, quibblers, so it's hardly the most original piece of programming ever (after all, horizontally-scrolling running-along-slicing-'em-ups are hardly thin on the ground for the Spec), but this certainly is one of the best around, and still looks a corker after all these years. Huge graphics (avec colour), nice tunes (especially on the 128), smooth scrolling (it also slides up and down when you go up ladders and down pits and things - I forgot about that), a spooky sort of icon add-on weapons bit, octillions of levels - heck, I could go on for hours. If you like slash-'em-ups you'll love Rastan. If you don't you'll hate it (and be missing out on quite a lot).

Overall: 87%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 74, May 1988   page(s) 58,59

Label: Imagine
Author: Icon Design
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

If I see just one more bloke with well-muscled legs and a fur cod-piece I think I'm going to pass out. The office is full of 'em!

I hasten to add that all the 'hunks' in question are sprites on t'computer. It's becoming very much the norm to come of of a morning and find a new hero on my desk. We've had Thundercats, we've had FLintstones, we've had He-Man. And now we've got Rastan.

Yup, deprived of his 'Saga' (it was only ever B-movies anyway) Rastan now comes to our screens in a manly fashion ready to slash and hack his way across landscapes literally pulsating with creepy crawlies of varying sorts. The story-line won't interest you, it's all about lost thrones, evil wizards and absolute power corrupting absolutely, and all the rest of that sort of tosh, but what it all boils down to is that Rastan has to confront Karg in the guise of the evil soul-sucking dragon.

OK, complete twaddle aside, what's the game like? If you've played Rastan Saga in the arcades, you'll be quite surprised at how well the conversion has been done. Rastan is nicely animated even down to characteristic walk, knees firmly together, sword held up and behind him. THe ghoulies are all there, the haughty lions stalking back and forth (although sadly without the snakes riding on their backs), the crazed bone-twirling skeletons, and the manic, blood-sucking bats that just want to get into that little crevice under your armpit. All there and nicely detailed.

What is a little disconcerting is the use of monochrome. Attribute clash is avoided, certainly, but this unfortunately leaves open the problem of not being able to see the approaching enemy. And because things move at a phenomenally fast pace (this is a man with a mission and a half, folks) you're more than likely to walk straight up the nearest man-eating bat. Still, if you like your games to move at a good lick, Rastan's the one for you.

Not only are the goodies and the baddies faithful copies of their original counterparts, but the landscapes aren't bad either. Nice lines in rockery, indoor castle scenes and pools of lava and fast-flowing rivers, coupled with some rather nifty flying rocks and swinging ropes make everything suitably atmospheric.

Along the way there are various bonus icons to collect, each lasting a short period of time, giving extra strength, more life or extra swings to your chopper. Look out too for the sword of dire and the very large axe that seems to do an inordinate amount of damage.

I liked Rastan Sage, probably mainly because it was the one coin-op in the arcades on which I could be sure of beating the lads. Now, I must confess, I like Rastan on the Spectrum. He's big, he's bad, he's got that cod-piece and he's looking good. There are some that think that the game's a trifle 'samey' graphics-wise, but I don't give a tinker's cuss. The action's all there and the gameplay is first class. Now, where's me broadsword and fur boots? I'm off to do some slashing...

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Overall: 8/10

Summary: Impressive conversion of one of my all time favourites. Get out that broadsword and boogie!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 104, Oct 1990   page(s) 66,67

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

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.

Graphics: 79%
Sound: 60%
Playability: 79%
Lastability: 86%
Overall: 81%

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

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 107, Oct 1990   page(s) 70

Hit Squad
Spectrum/C64 £2.99

The evil Wizard Karg (don't you just love the names?) has conquered the land of Maranna leaving the ex-king, Rastan, looking like a bit of a lemon. So, in a fit of rage he decides to pick up his trusty sword and dish out some proper justice to Karg and his minions, and get his kingdom back into the bargain.

Generally, this involves traversing the eight way scrolling landscape letting all and sundry bite the biscuit with a variety of medieval weaponry. End of level guardians spice up the action, and then the multiload rears its ugly head. After the pause more perilous adventures await the hardiest barbarians...

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Overall: 87%

Summary: A hugely playable slash 'em up that's a sexy snip at budget price.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 6, May 1988   page(s) 59

Spectrum Cassette: £7.95
Spectrum +3 Diskette: £14.95


Maranna was a peaceful land, until the wicked wizard, Karg came along. Thwarted in his attempts to overthrow the throne, Karg takes revenge by opening a mystical portal that allows access from the pits of hell. Evil creatures now roam the land leaving death and chaos in their wake. Fortunately one man has proved himself capable of facing the demonic hordes, the king of Maranna, Rastan.

You take the part of Rastan and undertake his task to travel through the kingdom destroying all in his path until you reach the distant land ruled by Karg. There you must face and defeat the evil one in his deadliest guise - the soul sucking dragon.

The game is split into six levels, each one filled with blood-thirsty creatures from hell - necessitating the five lives awarded to Rastan.

Armed with a basic sword at the outset, Rastan finds more powerful weapons as he traverses the landscape: a mace, an axe and a lethal fire sword. Killing the demons earns points and reveals any useful objects they may be carrying, including a shield that reduces damage, medicine to replenish energy, and a rod that awards a bonus. Only when Rastan has fought his way through the many realms of his besieged kingdom, can he finally challenge Karg, defeat him and restore peace once more to Maranna.

Overall: 55%

Summary: Rastan Saga is a great hack and slay game in the best tradition. Graphically sound, the macho, axe-wielding Barbarian sprite cheerfully slaughters his way across the nicely detailed backdrops. The various demonic hordes are also well drawn and fulfill their attempts to slay Rastan with great zeal. The game hooks you from the start, and great enjoyment is to be found hacking the evil minions and sending them back to the hell from which they spawned. Overall an enjoyable romp through the violent world of the Barbarian king.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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