Monday 10 January 2022

Rastan Saga (Sega Game Gear review)

Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Released: 1991

Rastan Saga is an action game that was released on the Sega Master System in 1989 under the title Rastan.

You play as a bounty hunter and your quest is to rescue the King's daughter from the thieves of Semia. While your default weapon is a sword additional items such as axes can be obtained, as well as armour that reduces damage. Unlike most console-to-handheld ports of the time, the playfield isn't zoomed-in to accommodate for the smaller screen; while this does allow you to see the entire surroundings it can be tough to spot hazards such as wall spikes. There is some verticality to mix-up the side-scrolling, but the level design leaves a lot to be desired and apart from minor scenic changes and colour palette switches each stage tends to blur into the next without introducing anything substantially new in terms of environmental hazards or enemy types. The only real difference is trickier platforming that doesn't lend itself well to the stiff controls, as you can't adjust in mid-air. The controls do afford you some great features though and I like how you can perform both small and large leaps, or slash in all four directions depending on which way you press the d-pad, as it gives you a chance in any situation. Some of the weapons are fun too, especially the Fire Sword which allows you to take out enemies from distance. There's also some enjoyment to be had once you've mastered the wall jumping mechanic, as many items are located on top of perilous platforms which adds a risk-reward element. The only other changes from the Master System version are minor, but I appreciate the improved readability of the in-game text and how items now appear in a bordered box for a more polished look.

Rastan Saga is a more refined version of the game compared to its console big brother, but the improvements are marginal at best and little effort has been put into adapting the action for the smaller screen. The combat is excellent though and the fun weapons ensure you're always suitably prepared for battle.

Random trivia: This handheld port was only released in Japan.

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