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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Rana Rama

We. Are. A. Frog...

Most action games have you playing as something cool, like a wizard or a warrior or perhaps even a Hollywood hero with a deadly automated weapon that never runs out of ammo. Well, not so with Ranarama. You're a novice magician called Mervyn who has accidentally turned himself into a frog? That's right, you're a frog!

Wizards have invaded and brought with them a horde of monsters who killed everyone, although luckily they ignored this unassuming frog. So it's time for you to leggit and deal a hefty dose of revenge on these evil beings! Played through an overhead view, you crawl a dungeon battling the minion slaves of the powerful wizards.

Take time to check out your foe and find out who you're battle against. And look at the artwork!!

An amphibian gauntlet?

First impressions are of another action-packed Gauntlet clone and, although it looks aesthetically similar, it's quite different. Beginning in the upper area of this 8-level dungeon you must kill the baddies and defeat the wizards. Interestingly, only the places you have explored are visible and the baddies themselves are only seen when you’re within the same room. This makes entering new rooms an anxious moment and who knows what surprises lurk!

Monsters come in various scary shapes and sizes, starting with the humble Dwarf (I love those) leading up to the mighty Gargoyles. All can be killed with increasing efforts and wizards need to be defeated in a Countdown-style sub-game that has you rearranging letters to form the word "Ranarama". It's not easy and later wizards are very tricky, but once won, he dies and leaves behind his rune goodies.

Magic plays its part in Ranarama and can be a little confusing at first but good ‘ol Mervyn has four categories at his disposal: offensive, defensive, effect and other powers. All movement and monster hits will reduce energy but fear not because you can cast a spell or collect the energy cells which are frequently available. Finally, use the floor-based glyphs to activate special features like a map, status and casting powerful spells.

As you can see, the rooms are displays only when explored which is kinda neat.


The graphics are superb with fine attention to detail, great use of colour and the sprites are beautiful. Also, I love how each screen isn't instantly viewable until you've actually explored that region. This is a great idea and makes the journey far more interesting because you have no idea what's around the corner.

The in-game Sound effects are very good with music is by Dave J. Rogers, he of Exolon and Zynaps fame so absolutely superb. Proving once again chipmusic will live on forever. Ranarama was one of the first Atari ST games (that I owned anyhow) to feature speech, thus I adore that fuzzy girl speaking. It's brilliant!

I love the red eyes of Mr Froggy and each tiny character has fascinating attention to detail.

The CryptO'pinion?

If you're expecting another run of the mill Gauntlet clone then you will probably be disappointed. Ranarama is very different and offers a long-term mix of arcade action with other hints of role-playing whilst we venture through its cunning levels. It's difficult but very rewarding so expect lots of late nights in if you're brave enough to accept this challenge? Overall, an utterly fantastic Atari ST game once again by legends Hewson.

The best download from 8BitChip (hard drive)
Old Games Finder should suffice for floppy dudes!

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