Rastan Saga

One of my favourite arcade games with a pumping overworld soundtrack and a creepy and mysterious castle theme. Taito created a great game clearly influenced by Conan the Barbarian and in places The Lord of The Rings (watch the background on the first stage…). I was slightly disappointed with the ZX Spectrum conversion as the gameplay lacked certain elements but the music was a fairly decent rendition of the arcade theme. The Commodore 64 version had a superb adaptation of the arcade soundtrack that really showed what the SID chip could do.

The Game

Depending on where you lived in the world depended on what storyline you got for the arcade version. The Japanese release had the following while the rest of the world got, well, nothing really!

You are Rastan, an iron muscled barbarian from the cold northlands. A bounty hunter by trade, you fear no man or dark, slavering beast! For you are a master of every edged weapon. Now, a king has given you a quest. Rescue his daughter from the deepest reaches of Semia; a land where even villains fear to tread. Succeed, and wealth beyond your wildest dreams shall be the reward! Take destiny into your own hands. Journey into the darkest heart of Semia, using magical weapons, armor and potions you find and win on the way. At every turn you’ll encounter nightmarish creatures determined to stop you. But beware… the king has sent over 100 men into Semia… and each has met his doom! Will you?

The home computer versions got this;

Thrill to the real arcade feel as you are plunged in the world of Maranna inhabited by a hardy race of barbarians, King of this race is Rastan, an adventurer, a warrior, a man pure of heart and rich in spirit. The evil wizard, Karg, thwarted by Rastan in his attempts to overthrow the throne has opened the portals of hells and unleashed a variety of beasts and demons upon Maranna. Only one man has proved himself true enough to confront the hordes; the king himself – Rastan. His task… to fight his way through the countries of his continent, killing beasts and demons in order to reach the far-off land of the wizard and the final confrontation with Karg himself, in his deadliest guise as the soul-sucking dragon. Will he succeed?.., it’s up to you.

Critical Reaction

C&VG (Arcade Review);

The coin-op of the month has GOT to be Taito’s superb Rastan Saga – A battle of wits and cunning with a huge Conanesque character as the hero. Rastan Saga is fast paced and the action doesn’t let up for a minute. Highly addictive and very playable, the game has got all the ingredients to make it a winner.

Crash (ZX Spectrum Review) – 85/100;

Graphically good, a macho Conan style main character cleaves his way across a variety of solid, smooth scrolling backdrops…

One small thing that did annoy me was the intrusive and time-consuming multiload. In the end I found it most tiresome, but it fortunately didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the game. Rastan is a great game for all you closet mad axe-wielders out there.

My Thoughts

A cracking arcade game. This one first caught my eye when I was on holiday in the Lake District but it would be a long time before I saw Rastan in my local arcades. It did, eventually, appear in a local computer software shop. Happy days!

A stunning game with great graphics and sound but with one hell of a difficulty level. This isn’t an easy game. It’s one of the hardest arcade games i’ve played. On the face of it it should be quite easy as it’s a straight-forward scrolling hack n slash but the variety of enemies and the excellent level design conspire to make the game very hard.

The levels themselves are split into three distinct sections: Overworld, Castle (or Caves) and Boss.

The first Overworld level is a rather gentle introduction to the game that doesn’t throw too many surprises at you but does present you with many of the concepts that you come across later on, from the destructible blocks to swinging ropes and the various weapons that increase your ability to massacre the monsters.

After the pulse pounding overworld section you move into the Castle that is the home of the levels boss. The soundtrack completely changes to something more sedate but instantly creepy. The monsters within the Castle or also harder to kill than those found in the overworld comprising of armoured monsters that also pack better weapons.

When you reach the boss the music changes again to something very dramatic, the boss battles themselves can be tricky but as with all games once you know the pattern you can dispatch them with ease.

Overall a superb arcade game with great music and graphics, one I highly recommend but beware as this is a difficult game.

The Music

I thought it would be nice to include various pieces instead of just the one main theme.

Arcade Version;
Aggressive World (Overworld Theme)
Re-in Carnation (Castle/Cave Theme)
The Devil Boss (Boss Theme, Levels 1-5)
The Final Boss
ZX Spectrum Version;
Aggressive World & Re-in Carnation
Commodore 64 Version;
Aggressive World & Re-in Carnation
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About Phendrena

41. 7 Year old son. 1 dog. 12 cats. Much chaos. I enjoy retro gaming and gaming in general. I do not own a games console. I play solely on my custom built high-end PC!

11 responses »

  1. LOVED this game when I was younger. The hotel I stayed at in Rhodes had the arcade of this and when I discovered MAME it was one of the first games I downloaded. The Master System version is pretty good of this too. Great music as you say.

    • phendrena says:

      Easily one if my all time favourite arcade games. Taito did a stunning job and then messed it up with Rastan 2 (Nastar Warrior). The third wasn’t great either – Warrior Blade. The music made up for it on them though.

      • Never played the follow ups but I think I saw the third one on a Megadrive site or something. It looked like it had become like a souped up Golden Axe so I wasn’t really interested.

        Funny given it’s reputation but I think Golden Axe has aged pretty badly but Rastan still plays really well.

      • phendrena says:

        Back in the day Golden Axe was a great game and the urge to defeat Death=Adder was quite compelling. Its still a playable game but it has aged and lost much of luster which is a shame but a lot of Sega games from around that era also haven’t aged well – Look at Altered Beast, thats really bad these days.

        As for the Rastan sequels – avoid avoid avoid. The second game is utter tripe. It had 20p off me and that was it. I was amazed at how dire it was – chunky, lifeless graphics and the gameplay just wasn’t there.

      • Altered Beast, an old favourite! Agree that one has aged…oddly. Not sure if badly is precisely the right word, but it does play a lot more statically than other platform action games.

        A game that has aged much better – Ghouls N’ Ghosts!

      • Phendrena says:

        Many of the later Capcom games have aged quite nicely and Ghouls n Ghosts is one of the them. I was stunned by the Megadrive conversion as it was 100% accurate right down to various odd game glitches including a hidden ladder on the first stage. I’ve never completed it but a friend of mine did manage to fully complete it in the arcade without using a continue a very impressive feat!!

        What are your thoughts on, say Strider or Forgotten Worlds? Both very impressive back then.

      • Don’t think I ever played Forgotten Worlds though I saw a screen grab of it the other day and vaguely remembered it. I do love that sort of over the top fantastical style that was common back then. I always loved Shadow of the Beast purely for the visuals and the music for similar reasons!

        Strider – I think I had that at one point, a Japanese version as my Megadrive was an import or something. I used to play it loads but I haven’t gone back to it in many years.

      • Phendrena says:

        Shadow of the Beast was great and i am actually going to be featuring it in an upcoming post – already well into the draft (i like to have 3-4 on the go at any time).
        Forgotten Worlds and Strider really need to be played as arcade versions as the conversions, while interesting, weren’t the best. Worth tracking them down with a well know arcade emulator….

  2. John v says:

    I love rastan,very good game I have an arcade machine at home with rastan in it cool I play it at least twice a week

    • Phendrena says:

      Brilliant arcade game. Easily one of my personal favourites. Great setting that really captured the imagination. Very playable, very tough and a pumping soundtrack.

  3. […] next piece to fall under the remix spotlight is from the game Rastan. With this post I am going to show two very different remixes of the same tune, the first piece is […]

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