Rampart (video game)

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Rampart Cover.jpg
Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Atari Games
Designer(s)John Salwitz
Dave Ralston
Programmer(s)John Salwitz (main programmer)
Peter Lipson
Mike Albaugh
Russell Dawe
Ed Rotberg (assistant programmers)
Artist(s)Dave Ralston (lead artist)
Sam Comstock
Sean Murphy
Will Noble
Nicholas Stern (assistant artist)
Composer(s)Don Diekneite
Brad Fuller
Platform(s)Arcade, Various
Mode(s)1-3 players simultaneously

Rampart is a 1990 video game released by Atari Games and Midway Games that combines the shoot 'em up, strategy, and puzzle genres. It debuted as an arcade game[5] with trackball controls, and was ported to home systems. It had a limited US release in October 1990,[2] and a wide release in early 1991.[1] It was distributed in Japan by Namco.[3]

Rampart is considered a precursor to the tower defense genre of the following decade.[6][7]


The player controls and defends a territory consisting of a large wall surrounding a set of castles and cannons. The player alternately shoots at attacking ships or other players, and repairs damage within a time limit. Once the player defeats the opponent, the player can execute the commander, by walking the plank or beheading. The single-player game consists of six levels.

This cycle continues until either the player fails a repair round, or enough ships in the enemy's fleet are sunk. When the opposing navy has been sufficiently depleted, the level is won, and the player may then choose another level from the island map.

The battle phase

In an attacking round, the player and enemy ships fire at each other using their respective cannons. The player can sink the enemy ships, while the enemy can destroy parts of the player's perimeter. Enemy ships move around while they fire, making it necessary to lead the target.

At the start of the repair phase, any territory that is not surrounded by a complete, unbroken wall is lost. By placing wall pieces, the player attempts to "capture" territory by completing a wall around it. Before the timer expires, the player must have completed a wall around at least one castle (which may or may not be the original, "home" castle) to survive the round and continue playing. It is also advantageous to capture previously-placed cannons, as only cannons within the player's territory may be used in the subsequent battle phase.

In multiplayer mode, with two or three players, the game is similar except that instead of fighting against enemy ships, the players each have their own area of land separated by a river, and they shoot at each other's walls. Cannons can be destroyed, bonus squares give extra points when captured, and there are no grunts or craters. After a pre-set number of maximum rounds, the winner is either the last player remaining, or that with the high score.


Rampart has been ported to the SNES, Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, Atari Lynx, IBM PC compatible, Macintosh, Commodore 64, Amiga, and Atari ST. Separate versions were made for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Famicom. The NES, SNES, and MS-DOS versions were all done by Bitmasters, and the NES version was planned for publication by Tengen (without a Nintendo license), but was switched to Jaleco (which was granted a Nintendo license), and the SNES and PC versions were published by Electronic Arts. Most of the home versions have updated features. The Japanese Famicom version, which was released by Konami, includes 7 training levels, 3 difficulty settings, and an extensive two-player mode. Many options can be chosen, such as the number of cannons to start with. In the SNES and MS-DOS versions, the cannons gained can also be converted into powerups.

The arcade version is part of the Midway Arcade Treasures compilation for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PlayStation Portable, and of the Midway Arcade Origins compilation for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[8] It is included with Gauntlet (1985 video game) for the Game Boy Advance. A PlayStation 3 version with Internet multiplayer mode was released on the PlayStation Network on May 10, 2007.[9]


In Japan, Game Machine listed Rampart in the June 1, 1991 issue as the seventh most-successful table arcade unit of the month.[10]

Julian Rignall of Computer and Video Games reviewed the arcade game, giving it a 93% score.[4]

MegaTech gave the Mega Drive version 90% and a Hyper Game Award, saying that it was a "superb blend of different game styles".[11] Console XS reviewed the Master System version, giving it an 81% score.[12] Nintendo Power placed it the fourth best Game Boy Game of 1993.[13]


Rampart influenced the first tower defense games around a decade later. Gameplay similarities include defending a territory by erecting defensive structures, and making repairs between multiple rounds of attacks.[6][14]


  1. ^ a b "Production Numbers" (PDF). Atari Games. August 31, 1999. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Rampart (Registration Number PA0000503219)". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Rampart". Media Arts Database (in Japanese). Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Rignall, Julian (14 April 1991). "Arcade Action: Ramparts". Computer and Video Games. No. 114 (May 1991). United Kingdom: EMAP. pp. 101–2.
  5. ^ "Rampart - Videogame by Atari Games". www.arcade-museum.com.
  6. ^ a b Luke Mitchell (2008-06-22). "Tower Defense: Bringing the genre back". PALGN. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
  7. ^ Ryan Rigney (2013-06-11). "Even the Best Tower Defense Games Are Just Plain Boring | WIRED". Wired.
  8. ^ Claiborn, Samuel (November 14, 2012). "Midway Arcade Origins Review". IGN.
  9. ^ Jeff Gerstmann (2007-05-11). "Rampart Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  10. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 404. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 June 1991. p. 25.
  11. ^ MegaTech review, EMAP, issue 13
  12. ^ "Software A-Z: Master System". Console XS. No. 1 (June/July 1992). United Kingdom: Paragon Publishing. 23 April 1992. pp. 137–47.
  13. ^ "The Top Titles of 1993". Nintendo Power. Vol. 56. January 1994. pp. 2–5. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  14. ^ Nick Suttner (2008-02-01). "PixelJunk Monsters Review". 1up.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2008-12-24.

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