Barbarian (Palace) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

By Palace
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #45


Boobs. That's what's uppermost in my mind as Barbarian loads. Some on Ed, I say to myself, this is the latest game from Palace, the people who did The Sacred Armour Of Antiriad, that's what you should be thinking of - not Maria Whittaker's chest measurements.

I make no apologies for this. Palace only have themselves to blame. If they must use a page three girl in the packaging and promotion of their title then they can only expect people to go on about Maria Whitaker rather than the game itself.

Great shame this, as Barbarian has stacks to recommend it. Thankfully, when you get into the game itself, there are no pouting pixels to distract you - in fact, Maria is so small on screen that her breasts look about the size of a Birds Eye petit pois.

So, perverts - if you are thinking of buying this to get cheap thrills - an impression it would be easy to get from the cassette inlay - then forget it. What you do get out the game is an extremely well put together sword-fighting game.

Beat-'em-ups stand or fall on one thing - how well the moves can be implemented with the joystick.

Games that did this well and succeeded are International Karate and Fist - the ones that didn't were Rock 'N Wrestle, and Fighting Warrior and, to a lesser extent Uchi Mata.

Barbarian is very much in the first category. There are sixteen possible moves and I successfully executed them all over a three day review period. Obviously some are harder than others and it is possible to put up a reasonable fight with a mastery of half-a-dozen. The point is they are all there, they all work, and you can use them if you want to.

Beat-'em-ups have to have a storyline and Barbarian is no exception. In this case, a dirty old man of a sorcerer, Drax, is threatening to give the "people of the jewelled city" no end of grief unless Princess Mariana (I wonder who she is supposed to look like) is delivered to him.

Of course, you, the Barbarian, having just popped down from "the forgotten wastelands of the North" are not going to let the beautiful princess be enslaved by Drax without a fight. So pick up your sword, and start swinging. This is your chance to rescue a beautiful Page 3 girl, er, Princess Mariana I should say.

The first opponent that comes at you is the 'purple' shirt warrior. A piece of cake, this guy. You can use him to practise your most difficult moves. My favourite way of disposing of him was cleaving his head with a 'Web of Death' swing. This is really something - the Barbarian turns into a spin with the sword above his head and 'chop' - the head is off! Enter a little gremlin who kicks the head across the floor like a football. Needless to say, it is not for the weak stomached, neither would it be a good idea for young children to see all this carnage.

Drax's warriors get tougher as you go. The next one up is the 'green' warrior who is slightly quicker, followed by the 'brown' - a very good blocker and the dark blue who is very mean with the head butts. The light blue warrior is bad, but the guy in black is really tasty.

If you score a direct hit on your opponent a little splash of blood records the swipe. Each player also has six red circles - each time a hit is sustained on his body half of the circle disappears. When they are all gone, you collapse in a heap on the floor and the little chuckling gremlin slumps on and drags your body off. The successful warrior stabs his sword in the air in celebration of the victory.

If you are successful in your fight against Drax's warriors, you will eventually get to fight the evil one himself.

This is the supreme test of your swordsmanship. The evil one fires magic bolts at you. You can absorb none of these direct hits so you have to jump over them, stoop to avoid them and dodge them in any way you can.

Palace tell me that Princess Mariana is watching this from the top window. Should you kill Drax she comes down to say thank you and the game gives you a message. No, I'm not going to tell you what the message is.

Options are many in Barbarian. You don't have to play the game as an arcade adventure. There is an option to let you play it as a straight two player combat game - which in my view is the best way to enjoy Barbarian. I particularly enjoyed decapitating the Dep. Ed in this option [You was lucky - Dep Ed].

The graphics are convincing but I have to admit to a little disappointment. After the excellence of Sacred Armour Of Antiriad I had expected Barbarian to be just as good, or better. Somehow the game doesn't quite have the same depth and smoothness of animation that Armour enjoyed.

The music is nothing to write home about but the sound effects are good - especially the thud of gremlin's boot on Barbarian's head.

Although it's a bit sick, it has to be said Barbarian is a real winner. Beat-'em-ups just refuse to lie down and die and, when they are as good as this, gamers should be mightily grateful.

Eugene Lacey

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