Ready! Aim! Fire!
By Gregory D. GeorgeJanuary 1, 2003
Definitely one of the most intricate title screens on the Lynx.
Selecting your castle and positioning your cannons are critical to success.
Aim for the red ships first since they cause the worst damage.
Just TRY to categorize Rampart. Is it a
puzzle game or is it an action game? Is it a thinking man's game or is it a
blast-a-thon? In truth, this is a game that teams those genres into one superb package.
The goal in Rampart is to defend your castle from invading troops.
After selecting your castle and placing your cannons, ocean going ships will
attempt to land on your shores. You must blast the ships before they land
otherwise you will have to contend with the ground troops who will destroy your
The puzzle aspect of Rampart appears when you must rebuild your castle
walls. Tetris-like pieces will appear and you must place them so that
they mend the castle walls that were bombarded by the invading ships. The
problem is that the pieces don't always fit, so you will have to use your noodle
to figure out how to surround your castle. Should you fail in this and leave
your castle open to invaders, the game will be over.
One thing that made Rampart stand out in the arcade was the fact that
some units used a trak-ball. There have been other variations that used
joysticks, but I'm guessing this was the last arcade game to ever use a trak-ball.
The ball is used to maneuver your cursor around the screen to either aim your
cannons at the enemy, rebuild your castle walls, or place new cannons within
Of course, the Lynx does not have a trak-ball, so it had to make due with the
joypad. And it does so admirably, however, losing the ability to control the
speed of the cursor is limited. Pressing the button will double the speed of the
cursor, but that makes it easy to lose control and you can find yourself
overshooting your targets more often than with a trak-ball.
One stage is benefited by the use of the joypad is the castle rebuilding
stage. In the arcade, you must be precise where you place the pieces. However on
the Lynx version, one tap of the pad will adjust the piece on the
"checkerboard" grid perfectly. This makes it easier to place multiple
pieces on the board quickly.
The graphics in the arcade version of Rampart were sparse so you won't
be knocked over by the Lynx version either. They get the job done and this is
yet another faithful conversion to the tiny Lynx screen. The graphics do shine
however in the intermission screens and the opening title as you see the
horseman ride to his castle to warn of the invaders. There is some nice
animation in the rider!
The sound is faithful to the arcade as well. The cannon fire sound like
cannon fire and the explosions sound like explosions. The real sound treats from
Rampart are from the voice and music. The two samples lifted from the arcade,
"Ready! Aim! Fire!" and "Cease fire!" sound excellent. And
the music, while a bit tinny, gives the game the military atmosphere needed. I'm
just not 100% convinced that the percussion I'm hearing is a drum.
Gameplay, in a word, is FRANTIC! There is no time to think when playing Rampart.
You have only have a few sparse moments to rebuild your castle and even fewer
moments to attack the invaders. I just wish there were 3 more seconds to attack
those ships, especially since I've already spent so much time perfecting my
Different enemy ships add an element of strategy to the blasting stage. Brown
ships are the easiest and take only two cannon hits to sink. Green ships take 3
hits, grey ships take 5 hits. The red ships are the most evil of all because not
only do they take 5 hits to sink, but they fire red cannonballs at you. When
these red cannonballs strike your castle walls, a fire burns there that cannot
be put out. This forces you to rebuild around these fires making your job
rebuilding much more complex.
Another element of interest is the ground troops. Once a ship lands
unfettered, an army pops out and advances on your castle. If you do not have
protection, they will make the rebuilding process more difficult. In addition,
if they can somehow reach the "heart" or center of the castle, they
will destroy it and your game will be over.
Rampart is a great game that sometimes gets overlooked on the Lynx. In
terms of arcade to home translations, the Lynx version is one of the best, if
not the best.
If you need some help winning games in Rampart, be sure to read TAT's Rampart Strategy Guide.