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Arcade: Platform
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

THAT INSANE snigger is getting to me. I can't stand it anymore, I've got to share it with someone.

The awful truth is that Rasputin has rebuilt his terrible domain for the 128K and hidden the runes that will stop the destruction of the galaxy in even more inaccessible places. New monsters and further filthy corruptions of his foul mind.

The 128 version of Rasputin bears little resemblance to the excellent 48K version of the game, and the initial rooms are easier to negotiate than the original. The first rooms in the 48K version were almost impossible to get through, until you realised that all the monsters moved in set patterns and that your moves had to be made with pixel precision. The 128K game is similar but the layouts are simpler.

There are, however, more fiendish traps than the 48K game. For instance, you may get mauled by jagged teeth and stakes which rise out of the floor with alarming regularity.

Other traps include loose masonry, boxes which crackle with etheric energy, and giant cog wheels which spin you round and deposit you on other traps. In some of the rooms you can't even stay on the safe floor squares; they make you jump on to the next square in the direction you are heading.

Your knightly garb which includes chain mail, helmet, sword and shield proves of little use against the multitude of werebeasts and robots which inhabit Rasputin's maze. You don't lose lives if you touch a monster but you will lose energy - depicted on a sword shaped indicator.

The four runestones, which you have to collect and slot into the initial temple screen, are located in a series of rooms at the end of the game. When you enter a rune room, one of the eye-shaped indicators at the bottom of the screen lights up and a square cursor indicates which stone is there.

Although each is marked with different runic symbols it is one thing to find them and altogether another to get to them. Most are hidden on narrow staircases, patrolled by monsters, or on platforms made up of a single file of blocks which hang in the air with no visible means of support. If you fail in your bid to get a runestone you are not taken back to the beginning of the game, you are just transported to the room's doorway and have to negotiate all those dangers again.

The distinguishing feature of Rasputin is its fabulous graphics content which is better than Movie and the Ultimate Knight Lore series of games. In Rasputin the animation is smoother than anything I've seen before, and on top of that there are at least five or six things happening on the screen simultaneously.

Make sure you have the television sound turned up loud, too, because the jaunty three-voice music is a treat.

If there is a down side to Rasputin it's that it is still a very hard game to play - despite the concession given by the author at the beginning of the game.

Not for beginners, this one.

John Gilbert

Publisher: Firebird
Price: £7.95
Programmer: Paul Hibbard
Joystick: cursor, Kempston, Interface II