STORY / GAMEPLAY
You take-off from your Mothership and fly your mighty Valkyrie fighter down to the planet Fractalus in order to fight through the Jaggi defenses and find and rescue downed pilots on its surface. Jaggies are an intelligent life-form from the dark sector of our galaxy, who captured the planet and made it a new home, and shot-down many of your pilots trying to free-up Fractalus. The pilots won't be jumping up and down waving at you. So, use your Long Range scanner (watching for a "blip") and view-screen (for a flashing green beacon on the surface) to find their crashed ships, in which they will wait inside until you land in range. As soon as you land and shut down your engines, the pilot will come running and knock on your rear airlock door. The game has a nice humor too. You can even kill your own pilots by not letting them in, and the knocks become slower and weaker until the pilot dies! But be careful, as sometimes a Jaggi instead of a human pilot will run on you! When you pick up a certain number of pilots (there is a flashing indication when pilot quota is reached) or run out of energy, it's back to the Mothership to leave the pilots or refill your powers. When the Mothership is near, a light will flash on the control panel and a message "MOTHERSHIP" will appear at the top of the screen.
Flight instruments also include an artificial horizon, an energy-level meter, two altimeters, a compass, a speed indicator, a device that shows the clearance between your wingtips and the canyon walls, and digital readouts that tell how many Jaggies you've destroyed, how many pilots you have to rescue, and your distance from the pilot on the long-range scanner.
The Jaggi defenses (gun surface mounts mainly) can be everywhere on Fractalus, especially on the mountain peaks. Watch for the crosshairs to appear on the main window when an enemy is near, and use your Targeting Scope to line up the enemy in the cross hairs, then launch a missile by pressing fire button. Be careful, as in advanced levels, the Jaggies will fly their (suicide) saucers directly to you which can either be shot down with your missiles or dodged. If they hit you, your shields will drain off more energy than a gun emplacement hit.
Rescue on Fractalus! was a game way ahead for its time, and what made it special and stands out from the crowd was using this Fractal technology places (hence the name of the...planet), and also it scary-like sci-fi scenario.
GRAPHICS / SOUND
The game features an impressive (for the time) first person perspective of a jagged surface in a 3D-style world using fractal technology. Instead of pre-rending the mountainous landscapes, the developers used fractals for creating distinctive landscapes that rarely duplicates. LucasArts used this technology in several of its other own titles released later (like, Ballblazer). Very few games attempt this perspective, let alone this perspective on a jagged surface like this one. The presentation of the cockpit is far from thrilling, but it's full of "working" instruments and notification lights and bars. Screen scrolling is quite smooth, especially when you use your thrusters and fly fast through the rifts and peaks of the rocky Fractalus.
Sound and music are similarly effective. The music between missions is not bad, and once you go into the levels themselves, all you get are sound effects fulfilling their purpose. There is a spot effect for every single missile you fire followed by its explosion. Cockpit sounds and thrusters' noises are equally effective, while sounds like when the pilots knocking your air-lock doors desperately, is pretty funny.