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A.P.I Review: RASCAL
Developer: Psygnosis OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Psygnosis 1 Player
Game Type: 3D Platform Adventure Memory Card
Review Date: May 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Sneaking around the basement of your house one evening you are
determined to take a look at dads latest experiment. Day in and day out
you hear all sorts of bizarre sounds coming from below the stairs and
tonight you're taking a look, no matter what. You've made it as far as
the corridor leading to the lab without being seen, when suddenly all
sorts of bells and sirens begin going off all around you. Red lights
begin flashing on and off, if you are seen then dads going to be really
mad. You've got to run, hide, get out, so you head off for a good hiding
spot when out of nowhere come two weird looking flying spider crafts - 
flown by even weirder looking pilots. In a panic you run towards the lab, 
with the aliens in hot persuit.. 

What you see there is beyond belief, it looks like dad is struggling
with some kind of reject from 'Alice in Wonderland' who you recognise as
Chronos, evil time lord, and the freak is dragging your
father into some kind of vortex. Dad can't escape and you're powerless
to help. You watch on in horror as the vortex closes taking Chronos
and your father with it. As his last act before disappearing he throws
you his latest invention, the Bubble Gun, which has the ability to
transport objects through time. You grab the gun and head off to rescue
your Dad and defeat the evil time lord.


Rascal is best described as a 3D platformer. While the graphics and
colour scheme are reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot, although you pretty much 
have full freedom of movement within the 3D environment 
of each level.


The first impression you get when playing Rascal is the smoothness and
speed of the game. While there isn't generally a whole lot of action
going on in any screen, the graphics run at 60fps and always seem to
flow well no matter how erratically you move around the level. 

The next thing you notice is the colour, all the levels within the game
are bright and colourful (even the ones that are supposed to be dark and
scary). Bright primary colours are used which further demonstrates that
its the younger audience that this game is attempting to win over. 

With the high frame rate and detail present in the graphics, it can be
expected that there may be some clipping or popup present, not in this
case. There are no noticeable glitches like clipping or polygon edges
not meshing correctly. As mentioned previously, there isn't really a lot
of movement going on within the screens but even when there are, the
frame rate never drops and the smoothness is maintained at all times. 

The main character and the enemies within the game are all well rendered
and extremely smoothly animated. During the game you get the chance to
take a good look at Rascal from all angles, his features, while not
exactly realistic, are smooth and nicely drawn.

Sounds and Effects

The music and effects in the game continue the cute and colourful theme.
In-game music is a mix between techno beat, catchy pop and pacey rock
tunes. While mostly reminiscent of the midi type music that you're more
likely to hear on another popular console system (without a CD) each
level in the game has a different theme and the musical score changes
pace and style appropriately. 

The effects are likewise quirky and cute. Nothing really special here,
but every game action and element has a relevant effect to accompany
them, doors opening, clocks ticking, enemies being shot by the bubble
gun and pickups being gained. I didn't find any of the effects annoying,
but at the same time wasn't really excited by them either.


Take a brat designed by Jim Hensons Creature Shop, give him the ability
to jump and shoot a bubble gun, send him to 6 different worlds in 3
different time periods and you have Rascal. That's pretty much it in a
nutshell, simple, quick and easy. The controls in the game are very easy
to master, you've only got two buttons to push, one to make Rascal jump
and the other to fire your Bubble Gun. These two actions are all you
need to progress through the game. 

Control of Rascal is achieved with either the standard or analog
controller. The highest level of control is achieved with the analog
controller, push the controller a little way and Rascal moves slowly,
all the way and he will run. One disappointing aspect of this control
method is that the appearance of Rascal does not change depending on the
speed you are going. If you move slowly you would expect the character
to tip toe or shuffle, but all that actually happens is the animation is
slowed, so it looks a little like a slow run (a little silly), but only a
minor complaint. 

Control is generally easy and trouble free unless you don't have an
analog pad. You move around with the direction pad (or analog stick) and
jump to scale multiple levels. Using the digital controller can cause
Rascal to control a little like a truck or bus. Without the ability to
move diagonally with ease you can get stuck in corners or narrow areas, so
use the analog if you can.

The central point for all your adventuring is Rascals house, from there
you can progress to the levels through locked doors in a pre-determined
sequence, you must complete the early levels before the later ones are
unlocked. The house is the only location you can save your game, you
must complete an entire level and get back to the house before you can
save your game. Considering that levels can take up to an hour to
compete this can be a little annoying.

Each level in the game is interesting but simple. I couldn't find any
secret or hidden areas in any of the levels and the progress from one
area to another is usually just a matter of finding the exit and going
through it. It is really this simplicity of gameplay that may appeal to
the younger gamer, while repelling the more experienced. 

Configuration options within the game are pretty standard: analog
controller calibration, password level saves, screen adjustment,
music/fx adjustment and controller button configuration. The controls
and layout in the configuration screens are colourful and functional but
nothing really innovative. 

The one thing that is missing from this game that would have broadened its
overall appeal is a difficulty setting. Without it Rascal is just a little too 

So, what's the bottom line on playability. It all depends on who you
are. The interface, gameplay and controls are obviously aimed at a
younger gamer. If you judge playability from this point of view Rascal
scores top points, it's easy, fun and has tons of eye candy. On the
other hand, the gameplay is a little too simple to keep older gamers
interested, but who cares, there are plenty of alternatives in this
genre that will keep them occupied.

Value for Money

The value for money of this game should be measured for two target
audiences, the average gamer and the target gamer. The average gamer
will find most of the 18 levels in the game a little too easy to be
considered a challenge. The younger gamer is more likely to find the game
interesting and fun to play. Many kids aren't really looking to be too 
seriously challenged, they're looking to have a fun time. 

At about 45-60 minutes per level the game should keep you occupied for
10-15 hours. I couldn't find any secret or hidden areas in the game, so
unless they are extremely well hidden, they don't exist. This limits
the replay value of the game since games of this style only really get
you back to find the bits you missed the first time. 
GRAPHICS: 19/20 For me, this game doesn't hold a lot of interest. While it did keep me playing for a surprising amount of time, I'm not exactly the target audience so after playing for 3-4 hours I felt I'd pretty much got all I'm going to get out of it.

Like I said, I'm a little old for this type of game so my opinion doesn't really mean much. I highly recommend this game for the younger player whose parents won't let then get into Resident Evil 2 or hasn't quite grasped the complexity of the RPG games on the Playstation. If you've had all the Crash you can take and Rosco McQueen is too complicated for you, Rascal may be the game for you. I recommend a rental before you buy though.
SOUND: 6/10
VALUE: 11/20

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