Hello my Retro-holics, it’s a lovely cold day, I am sat here in the warm with a nice hot cuppa by my side. Whats today’s choice of game then?..
Barbarian on the ZX Spectrum
Remember Barbarian by Psygnosis? Well this is another Barbarian game by Palace Software, and one that had page 3 lady Maria Whittaker and the guy who would later become Wolf in the UK Gladiators telly show.
You play the part of a wandering Barbarian who is fighting to free the fair maiden ( later to become an ass kicking amazon in Barbarian II ) from the evil wizard drax! The game has you in a single screen environment battling against a computer opponent, OR you can plug in another joy pole and go leather and tongs against a friend. Your character has a variety of cool moves that you can pull off simply by holding down the fire button and moving the joystick in random directions, from the simple over head chop, to the awesome web of death, there’s a move in there for everyone. You and your opponent have blobs of health ( the Spectrum version has 3 per character, but needs 12 solid hits to beat down their opponent and earn the victory. Players can roll and kick the opposing Barbarian to the ground, and if you are lucky, you can get them totally off guard with a spinning neck chop, and if successful, will remove the head from their shoulders in a single cleave. In my opinion this is the one move that will really add a wild card win into a match up, you could be on the win for the entire match, then your opponent could get lucky with said head removing move and that’s it, he wins. I love this aspect of the game across all versions, really does keep you thinking about where you are on the screen and how your opponent may capitalize the game with this one single manoeuvre. And the fact you can bring in a friend and decapitate him or her legally, brings the fun to the table, and have a little goblin come in and kick the head off the screen while dragging the body away, laugh a minute!
Graphics:- For a 48k this game is pretty decent, bright colours, nice sized sprites to play around with, and the animations on the moves are very well put together. I used to stand there for ages just doing a web of death as it just looks so damn cool. Another neat feature is the two snakes that are present on each side of the screen, once you take a hit, they will animate with displeasure, neat!
Sound:- The sounds are somewhat lacking here, but hey, it’s a 48k game! Always amuses me to hear *BLOP* when you make contact with your sword each and every time. The intro music is pretty decent though, gives a real Conan feel to the game, sadly this is not present in the game itself, just on the intro…booooo!
Overall:- For the amount of memory this game had to play around with, I am happy with the way the game was presented, it felt like there was much more than 48k’s worth of content here, it’s only really felt when you make contact with your sword really. A great effort of a game, and fun on every system it was converted for. Bring a friend, and smash their faces in, legally….oh the fun! Try it out, it’s good fun.