Rampart logo

Cult (in other words, it didn't make much money, but those who played it loved it) Tengen coin-op Rampart is one of many games based on Tetris with a few elements added in an attempt to create something entirely new. Most attempts at such video game Frankensteinery end in mediocrity: a beaten-up Ford Escort will always be a beaten-up Ford Escort no matter how many bits are bolted on or how wide the wheels are.

But when you're working from as solid a base as Tetris it's difficult to go wrong - and Tengen didn't. Adding guns, battleships and a ruthlessly unforgiving two-player mode, they created a new game that stands up proudly.

Read all abaht it
So what's it all about then? Well, you're in charge of an army's fortifications and you have an enemy - in one-player mode the enemy is your Amiga and in two-player mode it's a buddy.

The game screen is a plan view of your castle keep, the walls surrounding it and more keeps set along a stretch of coast. Out on the water, a small armada polishes its cannon and waits.

There are three phases to each round of the game, the first of which is cannon placement. At the start of each round you are allocated a number of cannon to place within your castle walls: the number you are allocated depends on how well you did in the previous round, but normally it's one, two or three. If you don't have enough space to place your allotted cannon, tough.

Phase two is the fun bit. This is where all hell breaks loose and for one glorious minute you get to guide a targeting cursor around the screen with a view to hammering the hell out of the enemy ships with all your cannon. The idea is to simply destroy all the computer's ships, plus any troops that may come ashore to disrupt phase three; putting right the damage done by enemy cannon and creating more space for your own firepower. This is where the Tetris element appears.

A series of multi-shaped blocks appear on screen. You rotate them, position them and then drop them in an effort to replace those sections of wall destroyed by your opponent. You don't actually have to exactly copy your original battlements, but merely make sure there is no break in your keep's surrounds.

If you don't complete all your repairs in the time limit then you lose a life. If you succeed you can use any remaining seconds to attempt expanding your castle walls to encompass a larger area for extra cannon placement.

In two-player mode you blow hell out of the walls of a friend's castle; a friend similarly engaged in trying to build as large a fortification as possible while blowing yours up.

When the dust settles
And that's it, really - the attrition continues until all lives are lost. Doesn't sound much does it? Well, for the time the novelty lasts Rampart makes a fast, frantic and highly addictive two-player game.

There are only three niggles: one-player mode is largely dull (just use it as training for two-player battles); second, once one player gets the advantage in a two-player game it's practically impossible for the other player to turn the tables; and third, the game is over just too quickly - there could have been more levels, maybe the chance to upgrade to different weapons, or even a deeper strategic bent to it.

But Rampart certainly isn't a bad game. It's worth investigating for a spot of two-player, Tetris-inspired fun.


Step 1: in a two-player game both players are equally matched in castle size and firepower. Time to place a load of extra cannon within your walls.

Step 2: it's time to start blowing the cement out of each other. Each player guides a cross-hair which targets the cannon. Cause as much damage as you can.

Step 3: the tough bit. Now you have to twist, turn and move the computer-generated shapes ina bid to rebuild your castle walls. If you don't make it, you lose a life.

Castle Blaster

Rampart logo

Das Original stellte Tengen in die Spielhallen, die Lynx-Version besorgte Atari, für die PC-Fassung zeichnete Electronic Arts verantwortlich, und die neue Amiga-Konvertierung verdanken wir Domark - viel Lizenz zum wenig Spiel?

Keineswegs, denn trotz der vielen Köche wurde der Brei nicht verdorben! Die Unterschiede zum Automaten beschränken sich quasi darauf, daß es hier nur zwei menschliche Burgherren sind, die versuchen, sich mit ihren Kanonen gegenseitig den Wohnsitz einzuebnen - und ihn dann mit "Tetris"-Klötzchen wieder zu renovieren...

Freilich kommen auch Solisten zum Zuge, dann attackiert eben der Computer mit einer Armade vom Meer aus; am grundsätzlichen Ablauf ändert das wenig: Man beginnt mit einer Festung und wenigen Kanonen, nach etwas einer halben Minute ist die Schlacht vorüber, und es geht an den Wiederaufbau.

Unter Zeitdruck werden vieleckige (und drehbare) Klötze so plaziert, daß die Burg lückenlos umrahmt ist; besonders Flinke dürfen sogar Nachbarschlösser mitvereinnahmen.

Je nach "Raumgewinn" bekommt man sodann neue Ballermänner zugeteilt, um im folgenden Feuergefecht noch mehr Schaden anzurichten zu können. Bleibt jedoch eine Lücke im Mauerwerk, heißt's "Game Over", und man muß eines seiner vier Continues verbraten.

Zwar kommt die Optionsvielfalt der Amiga-Version nicht ganz an die PC-Konkurrenz haran, doch tut das dem Suchteffekt keinen Abbruch. Nach wie vor ist die Steuerung per Maus makellos (Joystick ist weniger zu empfehlen), Marschmusik und heroische Sprachausgabe klingen sogar etwas klarer, und der Grafik merkt man so gut wie überhaupt nicht an, daß "nur" 32 Farben verwendet wurden. Fazit: Selten war "Tetris" hektischer, nie war "Schiffeversenken" actionsreicher! (pb)

Rampart logo

Every other format has had a Rampart conversion for ages. Now we've got one.

About time, too. What kept you? We have been waiting for this simple conversion for about a year now, so surely the least we can expect is an absolutely pixel-perfect job, yes? (Dear me, I am in a belligerent mood this morning. Better get a grip).

Hurrah, we have been waiting ages for this fabulous arcade game to be converted to the Amiga and now here it is. (No, it is no good, they will never swallow that one).

Fish! Stirling! Albion! 32-piece dinner service! Double decker bus! Centipedes! (Snip! I don't think the 'wacky surrealist' approach is going to get you out of it this time, either. Have another go. - Ed).

Oh God. I just cannot seem to find the tone here at all. I think what we need is one of those reviews that all the crap dweebs who write in complaining all the time about how we don't like football management sims or wargames or RPGs or whatever seem to want - the facts, and nothing but the facts. Here goes, then. Trainspotters of the world, this one's for you.

Rampart is a conversion of a Tengen (i.e. Atari) coin-op. It can be played by one or two players, in three basic game styles. First, there is a one-player mode. Here, you start off with a castle surrounded by walls (you choose your site from a selection of five offered at the beginning of the game), within the boundaries of which you place three cannons.

By guiding a target sight with the mouse or joystick you fire these cannons at a number of ships which sail towards the coastline of the island (which is green, interestingly) on which your castles are situated, attempting to sink them. The ships (which are brown), however, fire back at you, attempting to destroy the walls surrounding your castle.

While doing this they also attempt to reach the beaches of the island and disgorge troops. If they are successful, the troops advance on the other, unprotected castles (which are grey), and destroy them.

After a short period of time has elapsed, the 'shooting' stage of the game ends and you move on to the 'rebuilding' stage. Here, a number of random geometrical shapes (a bit like the ones in Tetris, interestingly) are placed one at a time under your control, and using the mouse you move, rotate and place them in the gaps in your castle wall created by the enemy fire, attempting to reconstruct the wall so that your castle is once more surrounded.

A fab two-player game

You can also attempt to extend the walls so that they surround one or more of the other, unprotected castles. If you fail to surround any castles in the allotted time, your game is over, but if you succeed, you are awarded a number of extra cannons to place, dependant on how many castles you have claimed and how successful you were in the previous round. These cannons, though, still have to be placed within castle walls, so you must make sure you leave enough room for the cannons, which, take up four squares of the castles' chequer-patterned floors.

The game progresses in this manner, with increasing numbers of enemy ships, until you fail to surround a castle or have them all destroyed by enemy troops.

The second type of game in Rampart is the standard two-player mode. In this, the two players (one of whom plays the 'Red' army, the other playing the 'Blue' army) face each other across a river. The gameplay is largely the same, except without ships or troops - you simply shoot at the other player's castle walls, in an attempt to make them as difficult for him to rebuild at the end of the round as possible.

Lastly, you can play a game which is a hybrid between the two, featuring both human players playing near a river estuary (which is the point at which a river opens out and flows into the sea, interestingly), towards which computer-controlled red and blue ships sail, fulfilling the same task as the computer enemies do in the one-player game, viz, shooting at the other side's walls and landing troops. It is, of course, rather more difficult and complicated than either of the other two game types.

The graphics are mostly green and blocky

The graphics are mostly green and blocky, although they change to rather prettier (oops, sounds like a bit of opinion creeping in there, better edit that out later) contoured and curved landscape once the buildings stage is complete (whilst this is happening, the ground takes on a chequered pattern with all angles simplified to either 45 or 90 degrees to aid with block placing).

Sound consists of some simple explosions and militaristic jingles, plus the odd snatch of samples speech ('Cease firing!' that kind of thing). You can control the action with mouse or joystick, the joystick method involving some complex manipulation to compensate for the presence of only one fire button to perform both rotation and placing with. The response to either system, though, is rather slow (although 'slow' is of course a relative and subjective term, and we do not want any subjectivity in here, do we?) let's just say then, that it is 'Not nearly as fast, for example, as in the Super Nintendo version of the game' and leave it at that).

At the end of the two-player game, there is a sequence where the victorious player gets to execute the other one with a guillotine, but there is no blood. The enemy ships all have single tall masts, sometimes with sails up and sometimes with them down, and there are several skill levels you can choose, mainly involving more difficult coastlines to defend. If you choose one of the harder levels, you get a points bonus for surviving the first round, and at the end of the game you can enter your name on the high score table, using up to three letters.

That's that, then. Dull way to review a game, wasn't it? Will you please shut up now? (You know who you are).

Rampart logo

Domark £25.99

'Damned hard pounding this,' the Duke of Wellington reportedly said during the battle of Waterloo. 'Let us see who can pound the hardest'. This is the essence of Rampart. Superficially set in an earlier medievalesque era, it is accurately billed as a game of strategy and survival.

With a single player pitted against a computer controlled invasion armada, or two players fighting each other (and a computer controlled invasion armada, just for good measure), the aim remains the same: surround your castle with walls and blast your enemy's fortifications with cannons.

Both the concept and the gameplay are simple and straightforward - but very hard to do well. The shelling from the oncoming fleet, and the hammering opposing players give each other, raze walls to the ground with frightening speed - and speed is a vital factor in Rampart.

After each artillery exchange a ceasefire is announced, and this is when things get difficult. With only 20 seconds at your disposal you manipulate oddly shaped building blocks in order to repair your walls and expand your territory. Your castle has to be encircled by walls if your cannons are to fire, and rest assured that if you don't bash your enemies quickly, they'll flatten you.

Inflicting damage, repairing your walls, and annexing more land with new walls gains you points - and what do points mean? Well, in this game they mean more cannons, if you've added a new castle to your growing, but troubled, empire. Failure to surround the castle means instant defeat and, in the two player game, a quick trip to the guillotine.

The graphics are nothing to write home about, with a three-dimensional bird's eye view of the battlefield during combat turning into a similar, but two-dimensional map for the brick-playing phase. An endearing tune plays though much of the game (Cloppa Castle meets Trumpton!), and commands to fire and cease fire may be heard, in addition to the sounds of combat and occasional cheers. Enjoyable but lacking variety.