Barbarian - The Ultimate Warrior
Copyright/Publisher: Palace Software, Programming by: Stanley Schembri,
Designed by: Steve Brown, Sound by: Richard Joseph, Assistant Artist: Gary Carr,
Release Year: 1987 Genre: Fighting Sports, Number Of Players: 1 or 2
Designed by Steve Brown and written by Stanley Schembri (the duo behind Cauldron II) comes
a beat'n'hack'n'chop'em up with bloody and sweaty overtones.
The scenario is straight out of the myths of old, telling of Drax, an evil sorcerer, who's
lusting after the voluptuous Princess Whittaker (and who can blame him?). Unless she's
delivered to him he will unleash his unspeakable wrath upon the people of the Jewelled City. However,
there is one alternative - the Jewelled City must offer up a champion to defeat the evil
sorcerer and his muscular henchmen.
Champion, after champion is defeated and the Jewelled City is losing hop, when, from the
forbidding wastelands of the north, comes an unknown barbarian willing to take on the awesome
task. Who is this mysterious warrior?
Barbarian comes in two parts, loading in no particular order. The first is a combat practice
routine for one or two players, designed to help you get to grips with the fighting moves and
assess the strength of opponents. On the flip side is a fight to the death, where the Princess'
future is at stake and you eventually come face to face with Drax himself.
Sixteen moves are available: eight controlling body movements, accessed by simple joystick
movement, and eight attacking moves that come into play when the fire button is pressed.
The jumps, twirls and rolls executed by the two combatants are complemented by truly macho swordplay,
as the massive broadswords are brandished to devastating effect.
The hero has to fight his way through eight increasingly difficult levels, moving on to
face a stronger, faster opponent each time a foe is vanquished.
On the final screen you come face to face with the dark and mysterious Drax. He can't be
bothered with lowly swordplay and launches into battle by hurling bolts of magic. Should
you manage to avoid the magic and defeat Drax in a traditional physical assault, Princess
Whittaker is saved and is likely to want to make a clean breast of things.
Yeah! All the thrills and spills of a nightmarish abattoir - blood spurts, decapitated heads
flying around, guts and gore and hunchback cripples dragging away corpses - this is what I call
a real hack'em up!
The computer opponents have a great degree of 'intelligence' and
consequently the game is varied, challenging and unpredicable - something that's vital if
a beat'em up is to be successful. Once you've beaten Drax the second program's appeal might
diminish, but the practice game is the sort of thing that gets played time and time again.
Barbarian representys new heights in bloodsports: there's plenty of life-juice sloshing
around, and the lopping-off of heads is sickeningly realistic. The animation is probably
as good as you're going to get on a 64, and the action is fast and very furious.
Despatching Drax's guardians provides a fair challenge, but I'm not too sure about the
lastability. There are relatively few backdrops, and the gameplay doesn't alter significantly
from screen to screen. Someone is bound to moan about the game's violent aspects, but until
then, go get your copy and do some serious slaying.
Muscles rippling, hair flying in the wind, my bronzed body glistening with sweat I leap in for
the kill - my adversary defeated, I raise my hand in acknowledgement and know that the
comely maiden will soon be mine. Barbarian has turned me into a jumping and slashing
he-man (with two-foot long hair to boot - paradise!).
The single player game is a touch
unbalanced, with the first three opponents a little easy and the next few practically invincible -
but the two player section is the most realistic and exciting slash'em up yet. This is
everything that Highlander could and should have been - there are a variety of convincing
moves and tactics, perfectly complemented by the realistic sound effects. There's far more
to Barbarian than the three acres of Maria Whittaker's flesh which adorn the packaging,
so cut a path to your local software shop now!