Rascal is a visually confusing 3D adventure that is as entertaining as shopping in a crowded grocery store.
Rascal is a visually confusing 3D adventure that is as entertaining as shopping in a crowded grocery store. It is another in a long line of 3D adventure games far below the Mario standard; this game proves dull and inconsistent.
Rascal is tasked with wading through six worlds to rescue his father from a bad guy, Chronos. I find it hard to imagine that a boy with a bubble-blowing gun could depose a master of time travel, but such is the premise. As advertised, there are 18 levels to the game (three to a world), but only 12 offer anything more than fighting with said bad guy. In each of those 12 levels you assemble an hourglass of six pieces, which teleports you back home. Each level's standard inventory is what you might expect: puzzles, critters, power-ups - not much left to the imagination. And much of the game is centered on merely picking up this stuff. Once Rascal makes it through all six worlds, the game is over. Anyone that has mastered jumping on mushrooms and shooting while running backwards could easily finish this game.
Jim Henson's Creature Shop was assigned the task of designing Rascal the character. Sadly, it designed something quite similar to Atari's Paperboy. Rascal says little more than "whoa" and "ouch" as he saunters through many a blandly painted room. The soundtrack in the Old West and Hollywood levels and the random noise in many of the later rooms made me want to die. Luckily, volume is one thing you can control. This game has a few technical problems, too. Seams in between polygons, flickering animation, and pop-up occur regularly. The poor camera angle work makes the game impossible in spots, obscuring what Mario or Lara would see clearly. Objects behind Rascal prevent you from clearly seeing what lies ahead, because the invisible camera can't occupy the same space. In some places Rascal disappears for no reason other than camera malfunction.
There are a few levels in the Atlantis and Aztec worlds that are well designed, challenging, and cohesive right down to the music. The Paynal character is the rare visual standout of the ordeal, brightly colored and well animated. The high point of the game was several skateboard-styled half-pipes. They were fast, deadly, and fun. What's odd is the overall thrown-together feel of the game. The few outstanding levels are so good it makes me wonder if the developers cheaped out due to release date economics. Regardless, Rascal is a 3D adventure similar to Mario 64 or Tomb Raider only in ambition.