Don't Lose Your Head!
In Barbarian, you play the part of the ultimate warrior, whose task it is to save the princess from the evil sorcerer and his henchmen. The game is in a style similar to that of other head-to-head combat games, such as karate and boxing. But this time the weapons are swords.
You may fight either the computer, a friend or a passive opponent for practice. I found the last to be most useful, it being the only mode in which I could win when I first played the game?
Also included is a demo mode, in which two computer-controlled men fight against one another.
The only moving objects in the whole game are the two fighters and a little character who walks across the screen and drags off the body of the fallen warrior, at the end of the fight.
The warrior sprites are quite large - and they need to be, since there is no form of vertical movement in the game. The men are animated well, there are no nasty black blocks around the edges of the sprites, and there is no flicker.
In contrast, the clean-up minion at the end of the game flickers a little: I get the impression this was the last thing to be added to the program.
Control is either by joystick or keyboard. You soon see the need for a practice option when you realise that to produce some movements requires a finger-tingling combination of three keys at once.
But once the keys are mastered, you may stand a chance against the computer opponents. After a few attempts I found that these sometimes lose their heads, especially after the flying neck chop.
Playing Barbarian is very enjoyable, and sometimes frustrating. It's the animation that makes the game stand out from some of the other combat games. Watching the demo mode reminded me of a Kung Fu film I say recently, except in Barbarian the acting is better.