Issue 38 (March 1987) Page 108
ROBIN: Ranarama is yet another Smashed game along the same lines as Gauntlet. In this game you have complete control over Mervyn, a sorcerers apprentice, who happens to be in frog form at the start of the game (due to a few miscast spells).
Mervyn is trapped in a dungeon; to escape and return himself to his former glory, he must destroy 96 evil warlocks, 12 on each level. In some rooms there are strange symboLs on the floor which. If Mervyn moves over them, can be used to weave spells, reveal maps or destroy the enemies in the same room.
The rooms vary; some are quite large, others are little more than tunnels. Each is shrouded in darkness till Mervyn enters it for the first time - then light floods in to reveal the contents of the room.
To kill the warlocks, Mervyn must find them and then move into the same space. This takes the player into a subgame, which features the letters R-A-N-A-R-A-M-A jumbled up. The player must sort them into order by taking a pair of letters at a time and exchanging the positions of the two letters - within a time limit. Losing the battle means losing spell power - or even death.
If you win, then the warlock leaves some magic runes, which must be collected quickly lest their power wane and disappear. The runes can be converted or exchanged for parts of spells or strength in battle.
There are four types of spell available, and each has eight levels of potency. As Mervyn progresses through the eight levels of the game, he meets more powerful adversaries and so needs an increased spell strength. Using spells saps energy, as does contact with evil Warlocks and their guards. Fortunately for Mervyn, he can increase his strength with energy crystals and by exchanging runes for power spells.
Ranarama is a novel variant on the Gauntlet theme, and arguably the best of the bunch. It seems to me a better game than Gauntlet.
It's graphically good, and the animation of the small characters is acceptable. I particularly like the way the rooms don't appear onscreen till you enter them for the fist time; the subgame is also an interesting development, and gets quite frantic at times.
Ranarama is worth buying, even though it's a bit derivative of the arcade machine - it has better gameplay and more ingenuity than the other Gauntlet clones.
RICKY: I couldn't agree with Robin more - Ranarama probably tops the lot because it's such a busy game. It's not a straight copy, and goes beyond Gauntlet with rune-casting, spells and a host of other features. Its atmosphere conveys a true sense of adventuring, because the rooms aren't revealed till they're entered. If you haven't played Ranarama yet, check it out.
Hey, this is no way to Ranarama! WhaddyathinkIam, somekindofa frog?