Although Rampart was a popular arcade game, I didn't experience it until I first got it for the Atari Lynx. This portable version left an impact with me, it's still a game I pull out from time to time just to remember how much fun it was. In fact, if I walk by an arcade with Rampart I will make sure and make a special trip in just to play it the way it was meant to be experienced. Rampart is an amazing game, so I had high hopes for this Sega Master System version.
Although some of the features have been neutered a bit (such as no three-player support) for this 8-Bit rendition, this is still the fun game of Rampart you'll remember from the arcade and many other consoles. Believe it or not, not much needed to be changed to fit in this cartridge, this is essentially the same game I loved on the Lynx and the same game that is so much fun in the arcade. This is a fantastic port of Rampart.
Rampart's appeal comes from its simplistic game play that is easy to learn but difficult to master. You start by choosing one of a few locations to set up cannons and attack the on-coming foes. You see, each of these strongholds are located right next to the ocean, so between adding to your castle you will be firing cannons at the enemy. All this happens extremely fast, it's your job to keep the enemy boats from getting too close to the land, and if they do you will have to deal with small soldiers that keep getting in the way.
Between fighting off these boats you will be rebuilding your castle. You see, the attacking troops aren't just going to sit there and let you send cannons their way; they are constantly firing on your area forcing you to rebuild its exterior over and over. In order to rebuild you will have to fit Tetris-like pieces together to patch what was blown away, the problem is that you never really know what pieces you'll get next and you have only a few seconds to put a full wall around the base. Fail to secure the base and it's game over for you.
This Master System version looks a lot like what you saw in the arcade, especially when you're rebuilding your area and trying to seize more land. The graphics switch gears when your engaged in battle, all of the effects in this part of the game look spectacular and do a lot to show the power of the Master System. These battle sequences feature a painted look, a very stylish appearance that sets it apart. It might not impress you now but there's no doubt that it would have back when this game first came out.
Unfortunately the Sega Master System version is lacking one major aspect of Rampart's appeal, its three-player support. Here you only get two players, one for each control. The two player mode is still good fun, but it's nowhere near as exciting as it was with three. With three player support this port would be near perfect.
As it is Rampart on the Master System is a great game, it's the type of product that is easy to forget about but hard to put down once you've started playing. It offers a good mixture of action and puzzle solving, and the two player mode is well worth the price of admission. It's not perfect but Rampart on the Master System is well for tracking down if you're a fan of its arcade action.