Review: Rampart (Game Boy Color)

In this review, we get ready to fire in the Game Boy Color game Rampart. We find out how this puzzle strategy game plays.

This game was released in 1999. It is a port from the arcade game.

The game pits you against either a human opponent with another castle or a barrage of enemy ships when facing against a computer player. We’ll focus this review on the single player portion of the game.

You start off with selecting an area for your battle. The initial round permits you to either select a beginner area or a more advanced area for a bonus in points.

After you select the area you want to do battle in, you’ll be asked to select a home fort. Forts are critical to your success because if you don’t have a fort, you lose the match. The home fort is particularly critical because your cursor will always start in this area for every round. You can also strategically form a method of survival as you advanced based on the location of the home fort. Once you’ve made your selection, the wall will be built around it.

The next phase is cannon placement. You’ll be given an initial set of cannons. Placement of cannons can affect gameplay in many ways. The most critical part is the fact that they can affect your ability to repair your walls after each round. In addition, the further your cannons are, the harder it is to be accurate with your shots. After all, enemy ships move and the faster your shots can connect, the better. Otherwise, the ship may move out of the way before your shot connects with anything.

Once all that is settled, you’ll engage in combat with enemy ships. Red ships will fire napalm shots. Ships close to the shore may deploy enemies on the land. Other ships will continually pummel your walls. The idea is to take out as many enemies as possible before the time expires. When the round is over, the next phase of the game begins.

Using wall pieces that often resemble Tetris pieces, your objective is to repair your walls. Ideally, you want to repair the wall of your home castle which also contain your cannons you already have. If that isn’t viable, it’s also possible to surround another castle. If you fail to completely surround a castle before the time expires, then it is game over for you. You can’t build walls on water, out of the playing field, on fires, or where moving mobile units are located.

From there, you get to place your new cannons. How many cannons you are able to obtain depends on how much territory are within your walls and how many forts you’ve managed to surround. After that, you take on the enemy once again and the process repeats.

While destroying as many enemy ships as possible is a great strategy, the ultimate goal is to survive a set number of rounds. If you survive them all and can still surround a fort, then you win the battle and move on to the next territory.

During the attack phase, you can use “A” to speed up your cursor. “B” fires. Each cannon can only fire one at a time. You can also destroy mobile ground enemies with shots, but they tend to get replenished quickly during the building phase when a ship is at the shore.

Another tip is the fact that you can destroy the mobile enemies during the wall building phase simply by surrounding them. The territory will fill in and the enemies will get crushed in the process.

In addition, there are multiple strategies to employ while building walls. You can build your walls thick so they sustain enemy fire. The downside is that it can be harder to place new cannons. Thinner walls are easier to build. This allows you to encompass more territory quickly. In addition, you can give yourself plenty of space to place cannons. The downside is that they can easily be destroyed by enemy fire during the attack phase and will need constant repair.

A strength in this game is the endless layers of strategy you get to employ throughout play. How you build walls, what ships you need to target, fort selection and cannon placement all play a huge role in your success. If one strategy fails, it’s easy to find another one that may work for the round.

Another positive for this game is the extremely unique nature of this game. How wall are built and the challenge of defending yourself are both very unique even with this port.

Having said that, the random piece generator can be annoying. Sometimes, all you want is the 1×1 block to finally fix your fort. All you get are large unworkable pieces. Sometimes, you can lose a round just because you keep burning through pieces trying to find the right piece. This can be extremely irritating at times.

In addition, the difficulty curve is such that the game doesn’t really last that long. Spend a few hours and you can get your fill of the game easily. So, not an attractive quality for this game.

Generally speaking, this is a pretty solid game. The uniqueness and playability are both factors that make this game great. The way strategy and action is combined is also quite interesting. The layers of strategy found in an otherwise seemingly simple game is also a strength. The downsides include the random piece generator being annoying at times. In addition, the length of this game isn’t the greatest for a game of its time. Still, it’s a pretty enjoyable game that is worth playing.

Graphically, this game is OK. There’s not a lot in the way of splash, but the alternating versions of the terrain do work in this games favor. Some of the added pictures are not bad as well. So, decent, but nothing huge.

The audio has its strengths and weaknesses. The voice samples are very impressive to hear on a system like this. The music is interesting, but rather quiet and muffled. So, it’s decent, but could have been better.

Overall, this is a pretty solid game. It has great action and an impressive in-depth strategy that lurks underneath the veil of a simple game. The unique nature of this game is a big strength and the overall fun factor is certainly there. Things that don’t necessarily work in this games favor include the random piece generator and overall length. The graphics and audio are pretty decent. Overall, a great game to play even with the few flaws to be had here.

Furthest point in game: Died in battle 4 of round 5.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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