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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Barbarian II (Psygnosis - Commodore Amiga)

Remember what I said yesterday? That Barbarian would be great if you could just run in there, hacking, chopping and leaping with a move of the joystick and the press of a fire button?

Scratch that. I was wrong.

You may well recall (you should, like I said it was only yesterday) that I quite enjoyed Hegor's adventures in Barbarian. The game wasn't without flaws, but it was quite interesting and had a nice graphic style, and I had a pretty good time with it. Seeing as I also own the sequel, I thought I'd dash the pair of them off, one after the other. And I was quite looking forward to seeing what improvements had been made in the sequel.

There are no improvements.


Yep, you keep looking the other way... I'll just nip down here...

In fact, the game seems to be a backward step in almost every way. The first problem lies with the control method. Now, I bemoaned the odd mouse-and-menu control method of the original, and wondered how much better it would be with joystick controls. Barbarian II uses joystick controls, but plays pretty horribly. It turns out that there are too many actions to comfortably fit within the constraints of the joystick and one fire button, making the game a bit confusing to play.

Also, many of the creatures attack you from positions that make them very difficult to hit, resulting in massive frustration as you take hit after hit. You'll also find yourself trying to escape, maybe up a flight of stairs, but being hit by some spitting creature and knocked, helplessly, all the way back to where it can get you more easily. Grrrrrrr!


Bit nippy in here. You'd think they'd turn the heating on.

Another problem lies with the game design. In an attempt to give the game added depth, it's been switched a little from the flick-screen original... it does stay flick-screen, but when wandering through the forests, you now have branching paths, being able to move up or down to take different routes. But this makes the game dull, like a slow-paced version of Robin of the Wood.

And finally, the game looks worse than the original. The background graphics of the forest are lovely, but the characters all look muddy and indistinct. And Hegor no longer looks like a barbarian... he looks more like a useless Viking, the one that the whole village laughs at.

I'm not sure what happened here... the ingredients were there from the original game to make something really good. It certainly hasn't panned out that way, though, and I don't expect to play this one again.

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