|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|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 easy. 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.
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.