Rampart Review – Definitive 50 SNES Game #44

44th on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games goes to one of my personal favourites, Rampart. This franchise started out in 1990 as an arcade game, and was later ported to the NES, Master System, Genesis, Lynx, and PC, among other systems. It was released for the Super Nintendo in 1992. Although no true sequel was ever made, the various ports of the game differ widely. Of course, today, I will only be looking at the SNES version.

Rampart feautes a unique blend of genres, including strategy, shooter, and puzzle. A session of Rampart always begins with the selection of castles and placement of cannons. This is followed by three repeating phases: “Prepare for Battle,” “Build and Repair,” and “Place Cannons.”

“Prepare for Battle” really means “Do Battle,” this phase consists of firing at objects appearing on the map, usually your enemy’s walls in multi-player, or the computer’s ships in single player. Many other objects are also target-able, including map hazards like rocks and rioting peasants as well as your enemy’s cannons.

Blasting your opponents away is fun, but it’s nothing compared to phase two “Build and Repair.” This is when you’re given semi-random Tetris-like block pieces to place around your castle, and other territory you hope to capture. You must fully surround at least one castle to continue playing, which becomes increasingly difficult as games wear on. This can be due to leftover bits from old walls or other hazards (including your own cannons, if you put them down in inconvenient places).

The third phase of Rampart‘s gameplay consists of placing new cannons. Depending upon the mode you’re playing, you may be restricted to only the game’s normal cannons, or allowed Supercannons and propoganda balloons. It is important not to build canons too close to the edges of the map, as this will greatly limit the shape of wall pieces that can be used in repair in those spots. During “Prepare for Battle,” players should aim for tight spots which will be difficult for the opposition to repair.

These three phases repeat until a winner is declared. In single player, this means fighting until the elimination of all enemy ships. In multiplayer, games go until one player is unable to recapture a single castle, or until all the rounds set at the outset of the game are played. In this case, the player with more points is given victory. In multiplayer, once a player has achieved three victories, he or she gets to walk the opposing player off the plank of a ship. Hilarious mini-game included.

There are two game types available in Rampart, Normal, and Super. Normal consists of standard cannons only, and no terrain obstacles. Super throws in map hazards like the previously mentioned rocks and rioting villagers. In single player, Super mode also introduces a lower viewpoint during “Prepare for Battle” which uses a Mode-7 scrolling effect.

Frankly, I find Rampart‘s gameplay to be every bit as thrilling as I did as a child. It is simple to learn, but deep and difficult to master. I recommend this game to absolutely anyone into quick-paced strategy games, and especially fans of tower defense.

Check back next week for entry 43 on the Definitive 50 SNES games.