Friday 7 January 2022

Rastan (Sega Master System review)

Developer: Taito
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1989

Rastan is an action game that was later ported to the Sega Game Gear in 1991.

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. While there is some verticality to mix-up the side-scrolling, 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 to perfectly line up with your chosen location. The controls do afford you some great features though and I particularly 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 and managing to safely navigate a previously impossible area to collect a power-up is hugely rewarding; many of these are located on top of perilous platforms which adds a neat risk-reward element. However, there are times where you'll try to obtain an item, only for your sprite to weirdly pass straight through it. The music is average (if not a bit repetitive), but the bosses include some impressively large sprites and terrific use of the console's colour range.

Rastan is a bit rough around the edges with its cumbersome controls that mar the overall experience, but at its core it's a decent action game with some excellent combat mechanics that give you options at every turn. The level design could have used some extra care though, as what's here can seem very copy-pasted throughout.

Random trivia: The game supports the FM Sound Unit for enhanced music.

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