A big box of eye candy.
Rascal is a very magical game. While it may bore or even turn away a crowd of anyone over 15, its appeal is directed primarily to a much younger crowd. Basically, I don't find Rascal all that exciting, but I know my little brother would love it. So, with that in mind, here's the premise.
You play a kid living with your uncle in a sort of home/laboratory. Suddenly, aliens attack, and seize him for one of their nefarious experiments. Since your scientist uncle specialized primarily in time travel, it is up to you to travel to different locations throughout time and space in order to complete certain puzzles. At the end of this, hopefully, are the aliens.
The character (Rascal), designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop of London, is armed with what can most accurately be termed a "bubble blaster." This is not a real weapon, per se (being that it shoots out colored bubbles), but it does seem to have a highly effective impact against the enemy characters in the game. These characters are in your way, and eliminating certain ones will give you keys and other tools for completing the quest.
Though this may sound like a cliched plot, what makes Rascal special are the graphics, which are top-notch. To put it bluntly, this game will almost make you think that you have bought a Nintendo 64. With a super-fast framerate (rivaling that of the superbad Gex: Enter the Gecko) the game flows well. It is entirely from a rear, third person perspective. The walls and doors seem very real indeed from a ground view, and each object and creature is rendered in three-dimensions. Certain scenes, such as when you are attempting to cross a giant pool of lava by jumping from one swinging platform to another, are very impressive indeed.
Do the graphics carry the game? To a certain extent, yes. Even though I don't really care for the game's plot, I found myself wanting to go further just see what pretty graphical creations awaited. Trust me, if this is your attitude, you will not be disappointed. There are some really intriguing rooms and corridors. However, if your desire is to see good gameplay (which we know it is), you may find that this game has some problems.
For instance, because the camera always follows the character, there are times when you will see the front of the boy, not the back. This can be frustrating if, say, there is an obstacle in your way (which happens all the time...). In such a situation, you have to jump on instinct, since you can't see what is ahead. Additionally, you may find yourself in one of the lesser rooms of the different areas, where creatures such as bats, rats, and small birds appear magically out of bubbles. These creatures do hurt, and they can be killed, but they also reappear after they are killed. What this means is that there is really no place to stop without being attacked/injured by something. This gets somewhat maddening, especially to a child playing the game, I imagine.
What is interesting about the game are the puzzles. You need to collect certain objects throughout the game that form some larger whole. Once these are collected, the level has been beaten, and you are allowed to return to your own time for another adventure. The game forces you to explore every room.
In some ways, Rascal is an easier, more watered-down version of Super Mario 64, and of course, for the Playstation. If you have played Mario,Rascal probably will not interest you, especially if you suspect you might be too old for it anyway. On the other hand, if you know an eight year old, this might be a really good birthday present.