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Mastertronic Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

"'Elio, 'ello, 'ello, wossall this then? The first reggae computer game? Come on, son, that's got bells on. Would you mind accompanyin' me to the station...?

No, sadly this isn't an amble through the mean streets of Brixton but it's an unusual game nonetheless. Very rum. Mastenronic describes Rasterscan as "an animated adventure game without any text", requiring "no arcade skills whatsoever", but that's not entirely accurate. Judge for yourself. You play MSB, a small spherical robot that flies around the innards of the ship Rasterscan trying to put it back together after an unfortunate military encounter. Quite how you're supposed to do this, you must find out as you go along - the game info is intentionally vague.

So for half an hour you'll fly about the ship, or at least the parts that aren't closed off, wondering how to get going. Loads of massive spanners lie around, inviting you to sit in them. Do so, and press fire, and more often than not you'll die. There's one nearby, though, that will teleport you to another part of the ship, from which you need to find the stock room, where you need to get a pipe... and so on.

Now you've got to move quickly before your battery runs out. The gameplay notes are wrong, by the way, about one important detail - the game does require arcade skill, even if there's nothing to shoot. MSB isn't very easy to manipulate, and you have very little time to complete the first stage of your task at least. Let MSB get out of control and you've effectively ruined your chances of getting anywhere in the game.

Some of the giant spanners turn out to be locks, keeping you out of other (usually important) bits of the ship. To get through you have to solve a logic puzzle, part of which is working out what it's all about in the first place. I won't spoil it for you any further (ha ha!)

Okay, so this sounds a bit too clever for its own sake, but once you've sussed out what's going on (and with this review to guide you, you'll have something of an advantage over me!), Rasterscan is surprisingly engrossing. The graphics are fab, the ideas bizarre, and the whole is often very confusing, but I predict that you'll be gripped (oo-er!) And not a woolly hat in sight...