The spirit of that evil monk, Rasputin, is back. Not content with terrorising Russians and Catherine the Great, not entirely happy with being the subject of a Bony M song, Rasputin now appears in a computer game. Drawing power from the Jewel of the Seven Planets and protected by eight spells which have been cast in his name, Rasputin is threatening to cross the barriers of time and do all sorts of unpleasant and nameless nasty things. It's up to you to intervene.
The playing area is a multi-roomed castle hovering in space/time, a nether world inhabited by evil creatures which sap your life force on contact. Some, like the guards which patrol doorways, seem relatively unconcerned by your arrival in their little section of the universe, while other nasties home in on the figure of your crusading knight and do their best to wipe him out.
The quest begins in a hallway from which the other locations which make up the Seven Planets may be accessed. Your Crusader is equipped with a magic shield and a magic sword, both efficacious when it comes to dealing with the denizens of doom but their power is limited. Each time you use the magic weapons their power diminishes a little and the candle on the status screen used to indicate the power remaining in your weapons grows a little shorter. Contact with the nasties reduces your limited life force, as displayed by a horizontal bar on the status screen. When you run out of energy the game ends, and it's back to the courtyard of your dark side (where the game begins according to the instructions).
The action is shown in a 3D viewscreen which takes up three quarters of the display area, and the graphic style resembles that used in Alien 8 and Fairlight. The Crusader's movements are also similarly controlled: he can spin round on the spot, walk and jump. First you select one of the eight directions available, turn your hero and then walk forwards. The M key raises the shield to stave off attack, while M and P together brings the sword into play. A little care is needed, as the P key on its own causes your hero to leap in the direction he's facing make sure you don't jump at the enemy instead of poking it with a sword!
Since the courtyard of your darkside is a pretty strange place, it's not surprising that the scenery is strange. Most of the screens are made up from stone blocks suspended in infinity. Falling off a walkway due to carelessness sends you tumbling down to land on a cloud. Your hero is returned to the start of the room he fell from, but loses some energy in making the trip.
Travelling between screens is achieved by jumping onto one of the teleport blocks which causes another room to flick into view. The overall aim of the game is to collect the eight spell runes which have been inscribed on blocks of stone scattered in the playing area. Spells play a very important part in the game on entering a room the spell it contains can be released by leaping on all the special blocks. Once this has been done a monster materialises kill the monster and you gain the spell.
Most of the spells are regenerative, topping up your energy or weapon status, but Eyes of Heaven spells are very important indeed. Each of the eight runic spells you have to collect is protected by an evil eye control- led by Rasputin's spirit. When you collect an Eye of Heaven spell one of the four Spell Harmony Indicators in the status panel indicates the colour of the room in which your Eye of Heaven Spell is active. On entering a room of the appropriate colour, the eye it contains is deactivated and you can collect the rune it defends.
Once all eight runes have been collected your Crusader will be able to collect the Jewel of the Seven Planets and put an end to Rasputin's evil plans for ever. Rah Rah Rasputin.
Control keys: 0 turn left, W turn right, 0 walk, P jump, M use shield, M and P use sword, SPACE to pause, ENTER to continue
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Keyboard play: fine
Use of colour: monochromatic rooms hence no clashes Graphics: neat animation and good 3D effect
Sound: excellent theme tune at start, otherwise blips
Skill levels: 1
'Rasputin is an arcade adventure type game based a bit on Knight Lore and Alien 8 in that each screen is presented in a single colour. The graphics are brilliantly drawn in 3D and are easy to recognise, although the single colour approach can get a bit dull. Sound is well used. I liked the idea of raising you on a cloud when you take a tumble. At first it was hard to move around the screens, but when I got used to the game I found it quite addictive. Another good game which is fun to play from Firebird'
'At first sight Rasputin looks as if it could be excellent: it has fantastic graphics and a very good tune. The only gripe I have about it is that it's not as playable or addictive as it could be. Graphically, I'd say that this rivals Ultimate's filmation games - there is always a lot happening on the screen, plenty of nasties bouncing around, moving stars, fire from the odd dragon and the like. The sound is also very good- lots of beep effects during the game and an excellent tune on the title screen. If found it very hard to get into the spirit of this game, so after a few goes I was beginning to loathe it Also I found it very hard to accomplish anything, so it's not a compelling game to play. If you like pretty graphics and nice tunes, then this perhaps is a game for you. If you want a game to get your teeth into immediately, then perhaps not.'
'Rasputin didn't exactly melt my joystick when I was playing it, but I did feel it held some promise. The high price put me off quite a bit - after all, it's only another variation on the Knight Lore theme. The graphics are nicely animated, but the tunes are apalling and tend to buzz on for far too long. One of its good points is that the screen does not slow down, which results in a very playable game with something to do in every screen: a quality lacking from a lot of games around at the moment. I found Rasputin very good fun to play, but even after 30 minutes, I never felt that I had got into the main game. This could be a bit late to make its mark in the monochromatic games market - Chimera might be a better buy.'