Turning computer games into movies was a new idea in 1986, when Bay Area company Cinemaware released Defender of the Crown. Like other Cinemaware games, it combines an old Hollywood formula (here, the Robin Hood movie) with vivid, hand-drawn graphics that showcased the graphic possibilities of new 16-bit systems. Yet the game itself is nothing revolutionary. As a Saxon in medieval England, players participate in simple sword fighting, jousting, and catapulting arcade sequences. But the gameplay isn't the point; it's the midnight rescues of damsels, passionate love scenes, and dazzling tournaments this game is concerned with. And in this, Defender of the Crown succeeded as a completely new kind of computer game experience, giving way to a remake in mid-2002.
Well, we can hardly believe it. It's here. We saw some of the graphics at United Computer in Sydney in December. We were very impressed. We're the first one on our block with it and it's a winner. We must confess that we are the only one in our area with an Amiga but we consider that irrelevant.
In case you have never heard of Defender of the Crown we must tell you a little about it. The publishers call it Cinemaware; in other words it's like a motion picture. There is some similarity; the pictures are very good and some of them do move.
With this game you need to know how to read but not how to type. Everything is done with the mouse. The opening screen is one of the most impressive; a metallic gold title that shines while the stereo music plays. The game that really shows off the Amiga. An indication of the talent behind this game is that the pictures were done by James Sachs - you know, his name is in the corner of many of the Public Domain pictures around the place. R J Mical, the author of a major part of Intuition, did much of the programming.
After the title screen it gives you some history. The game is set in the age of chivalry, the time of Robin Hood - an important character in this game - a time of knights, castles and fair maidens in distress. These are all important elements of this game of strategy, conquest, jousting and swordplay. In case you haven't guessed, this is a male oriented and somewhat adult game.
The first of many choices is which of the four Saxon lords you wish to become. You are given a list of talents that each has. For example: leadership, swordsmanship, and jousting ability. The object of the game is to increase your fortunes and lands by waging conquest and raids upon the neighbouring territories owned by Norman and other Saxon lords, and ultimately to capture the three Norman castles and be crowned the new king. You must learn to fight with sword, lance and catapult. You will lead armies of knights and foot soldiers. How well you lead and fight will help to determine the final outcome.
Of course, as in most games, luck plays an important part in Defender. A band of thieves may attack the sheriffs tax collector, thereby reducing your income. While you are out raiding and pillaging, your home castle could be put under siege. At any time you may be asked to rescue a captive Saxon maiden. If you are fortunate enough to rescue her, your reward will be most pleasant. This is where the "adult" that I mentioned before comes in. I'll leave what happens next to your imagination.
Now I mentioned swordsmanship, jousting and catapults. This is where the "motion" comes in. When you sword fight, you move the man on the screen and his sword. You can lunge and retreat, parry and thrust. You are in control. The tournaments are most impressive. Trumpeters, banners waving, crowds smiling and nodding in the stands, horses restless and waiting. It's all there.
You choose an opponent and then the real action begins. You have very little time and you must be very accurate to unseat the other horseman galloping toward you. I have yet to win a joust. Of course I keep choosing the best swordsman. Just one hint: He has the best chance of rescuing the fair maiden.
At first Stephen thought there was too much repetition of graphic screens until he realized that if there were more different scenes the program would have taken more than two disks, and disk swapping is more distracting than seeing the same castle interior. It is recommended that you play the game in the dark and I agree. It does give it a more movie-like feeling. And since there is no typing needed, you really don't need the light.
Though we were really impressed with the quality of this game, we were certainly not impressed with the packaging. The very first thing Shane noticed when he picked up the box was the rattling. There are two disks for this game and they were both just loose in the box. The box is too big for its contents. The beautiful illustrations on the cover of the box could just as well have been on one of those folder type diskette packages that hold the disk in place. The slim booklet giving history, background and instructions for the game would also easily fit in the same folder.
One of the most famous games ever made. I don't think that there's a serious gameplayer that never heard about DOTC. The story is simple - English king was killed, and 6 lords, both Norman and Saxon, are fighting for the crown. Choose one of them and conquer others with the help of Robin Hood! The game includes sieges, ground battles... True masterpiece by Cinemaware.
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