Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Publisher: Tengen Inc.
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
Rampart is a strange old game. I always wonder how such disparate gaming genres manage to fit so easily and intuitively into such an effortless and effective package. Coming as a cross between strategy and puzzle stables of game play you must defend your castle by firing at an incoming armada, then once the onslaught is over you have to rebuild the damage done to your outer perimeter utilising random Tetris style blocks to the encroaching chime of a time limit. If you fail to patch the gaping holes in your defences in the allotted time then its lights out, baby. However there is more to this wall building malarkey than meets the peepers because if you build prudently you can fit more cannons behind your walls thus reducing your chances of getting your defences caved in as badly in the next round. Also you can take over other castles across the map and more castles equals, you got it, more cannons. But bunging blocks into your crumbling defences till its air tight is your main concern and you can easily do yourself a wrong one trying to attempt anything else.
Graphics are minimal but bold and effective and there is little more to say about them other than that – a few more details wouldn’t have gone amiss and it is a bit of a missed opportunity in my opinion but as far as sticking to the tracks laid by the original arcade version the SMS does a stand up job.
There is one main omission from the original arcade version and that is the lack of a three player mode, and although this may upset a few gamers there was no multi-tap for the SMS so it’s just tough toenails. Luckily dual multi-play is still out in force and this adds a whole dimension to the already tasty stew on offer. In this mode instead of fighting off ships you have to try to destroy each other’s hard work – you can even destroy each other’s cannons if they are bombarded enough – and it makes for a surprisingly fun and intense experience that is sure to induce some rather heavy ribaldry on both sides.
All in all Rampart is the bee’s tank top and a total joy to play. It is the supreme definition of easy to pick up hard to put down (as well as hard to master). If you’ve never played it you definitely need to have a blast both with and without friends. So I’ll leave you with these final words: there are few games that receive the mantle of “Timeless classic” that actually deserve it but Rampart is a bona fide ageless gem that deserves to be dusted off and experienced all over again.