Barbarian II (Palace) Review | Sinclair User - Everygamegoing

Sinclair User


Barbarian II
By Palace
Spectrum 48K/128K

 
Published in Sinclair User #81

Barbarian II

Ba ba ba ba ba Barbariaan! Yes, folks, he's big, he's bad and he's back. Barbarian: all muscle and hair with gleaming teeth.

The Dungeons Of Drax, in case you can't tell from the decidedly booby artwork that's been appearing recently, is the sequel to Barbarian, the game of Maria "Chocolate Mousse" Whittaker fame.

Palace have slightly changed the format for this outing. Instead of the straight-forward combat situation from the first game, there's definitely more of a mappy-explory feel to this one. The story goes as follows: Drax, having seen defeat in the first game, has fled to his secret dungeons beneath the wastelands, surrounding himself with troops and monsters and keeping a very low profile. In true avenging crusader style, you have to track him down and destroy him.

The game takes place on three levels. There's the open-air wasteland section, where you are confronted with "warm up" creatures which aren't really too threatening, and you get a chance to practise your swordsmanship (you get a sword if you play Princess Mariana and an axe if you are The Barb) without too much grief. Next up - once you've found your way around the maze-like area - it's the catacomb level with moderately offensive characters which, in turn, leads to the final dungeon level where Drax's top henchman hang out.

Getting the hang of the controls is a bit of a pain. As with all of the games of this ilk there's a whole cartload of joystick moves that you need to memorise. Even when you've mastered them you may well find them to be a little unsatisfactory.

For example, to turn around you pull the stick straight down, but the low chop (a very useful move) is executed by a down move with the Fire button depressed. As a result, in the heat of the battle you stand a good chance of mooning at the enemy rather than launching a useful attack simply because of a momentary slip off the fire button. Unfortunately the, um, flamboyant nature of the about-face means that you're defenceless for at least a couple of seconds.

The bad guys are exceptionally annoying and I felt that their frustration factor wasn't equal to their "skill". They all seem to wait until you have initiated a move, and then dodge it and attack before you can strike again. Since you can't abort a strike, this gives them a slightly unfair advantage.

The graphics are large and pretty swift on the movement front. The colours are largely unsavory - disgusto black-on-pink for level 1 - and it's advisable to ditch them unless you've got a decent monitor.

Along the way, there are various objects which will boost your energy, open secret doors, etc.

You do get the impression of exploration. Making a map is pretty much essential since you may be pushed onto another screen during combat and need to find a swift route to your destination, rather than faffing around retracing your steps.

Barbarian II is certainly playable, though I'm not sure how much the exploration element adds to its appeal. This is the sort of game you play to vent some commuter aggression, not when you want to enter into any thought process. If you've got the first volume, you should think carefully before buying this episode.

Verdict

An enjoyable slash-fest. But limited exploratory value.