THE SPIRIT of Rasputin has risen from the multi-dimensional abyss and threatens this world, with chaos and darkness.
You have been selected to seek out and destroy the Jewel of the Seven Planets, which is the source of the evil one's power. To do that you must negate eight spells which have been cast in the name of Rasputin.
The combat arena appears to be an oddly shaped castle drifting within the confines of hyperspace. The rooms within it have been cobbled together from odd shapes found, no doubt, in Knight Lore and Firebird's own Silver Range game Chimera.
The graphics make it immediately obvious that this is another Ultimate lookalike but it would be wrong to tag it as a clone. If anything, it is more difficult to solve than Knight Lore, although more reliance is made on movement than puzzle-solving.
Programmer Paul Hibbard - author of Buggy Blast - has his own method of producing Ultimate type graphics, which he calls Hib Flix One.
When play starts your character, dressed as a knight and holding sword and shield, stands in the courtyard of the castle. Unlike Chimera, in which the robot moves in only four directions, the knight of Rasputin can move in eight. That, of course, complicates joystick and keyboard operation. First you must orientate the knight in a chosen direction and then move forward.
In many of the rooms you must traverse narrow catwalks. If you fall off one, or drop off the edge of a room - there are no walls - you will plummet through space before landing on a cloud.
The computer then automatically bounces you back to the last room you were in. The length of the drop from room to cloud is important. As you rise back up points are deducted from your power rating which is shown as a red bar at the bottom of the screen.
Other indicators display the magical strength left in your shield and sword. The shield comes up in front of you at the press of one key but the sword is more difficult to use. You must press down two keys at the same time to attack one of the myriad creatures inhabiting the dimensions. That is a fatal problem if you have just noticed a guard or chameleon creature coming at you and you are not sure where to put up your shield or stick up your sword.
In your passage through the rooms, filled with too many monsters for comfort, you must find the rune stones with the mark of Rasputin on them. As you pick up each you will traverse the many dimensions of time and space.
The runes have been created by the Lords of Light, who knew that Rasputin might one day escape from the bondage spells they put on him. They will protect you against his powers.
The final rune, and most important piece of magic, is called the Eyes of Heaven and it will protect you from Rasputin when, at the end of the game, he shows his mind in the form of a powerful creature of darkness. You will have to defeat it before you can reverse the spells.
Rasputin is a challenging game and is not unlike chess in the way each move has to be calculated. You will find that you cannot whizz through any of the screens quickly and may find that you have to spend 15 minutes on several before finding a rune stone.
The movements of the monsters and guards which inhabit the castle are unpredictable. The guards seem fairly dumb in the way they prance around but monsters such as the giant globes. ET-headed robots and chameleons behave intelligently as they attack.
Firebird gives little information about the game on the cassette insert and you will find it difficult to get your bearings. It is, nevertheless, sufficiently different from Knight Lore and the others to make it interesting. Cheap, too!
Publisher: Firebird Programmer: Paul Hibbard Price: £2.99 Memory: 48K Joystick: Cursor, Kempston. Sinclair