Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior Review

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior c64 box art

Decapitate your foes in this violent fighting game in order to save the princess.

Story

The evil sorcerer Drax has taken princess Mariana captive. His ultimatum to the people is this; If anyone can defeat his minions, he will surrender the princess back to its people. Many brave fighters stepped up to the challenge, but they all died facing Drax’s skilled warriors. Now, an unknown barbarian from the harsh wastelands steps into the ring, wielding a huge broad sword.

Will the mysterious champion be able to save the princess?

The Game

In Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior you play as a warrior trying to save princess Mariana. In order to save her you will need to fight your way through the enemies that stand in your way, and eventually you will face Drax himself in a battle of life and death. This is a cruel and gritty fighting game with swords, sorcery and barbarians.

The game plays much like any other fighting game, except the fact that the violence level is higher than usual. There is blood, and since everyone fights with a sword, there is a brutal decapitating attack. If you manage to land it, heads will literally roll – an instant kill move. Note that this move can be performed at any time during the match. It adds a lot of dread and fear to any fight, as you have to keep looking out for that deadly swing.

Content

The game consists of two episodes. The first episode includes practice battles where you can fight and train your skill against AI controlled opponents or another player in two player mode. There’s two different arenas you can fight in; the wasteland and the forest.

The second episode is the battle of life and death – you must defeat all of Drax’s minions and Drax himself to save the princess.

Barbarian: The Ultimate WarriorThe first few warriors you face in the single-player mode aren’t using the deadly attack, but the more you kill the more frequent will it become. The opponents are quite smart, and act much like a human player would do. This makes it quite fun to play, as you try to outsmart your opponent.

There are a few moves you can perform to increase your survival chances. You can block incoming attacks with your sword, roll on the ground to knock your foe off his feet and you can jump over low attacks. All in all there’s a good mix of defensive and offensive moves which makes for more strategic fights than you might think. Your character and all your opponents have a health bar, illustrated by red balls at the top of the screen. You can withstand twelve hits before you run out of health and die.

If you manage to slay all Drax’s minions, he will enter the arena and start throwing spells at you – it’s virtually impossible to avoid his spells and if you get hit, you die instantly. This means you have to start the game all over. This is very unfair, and sadly takes away much of the joy of playing the game. Other than this, Barbarian is a nice game which has caused a lot of controversy thanks to its brutality and the fact that the cover of the game is a photo of an almost naked woman clinging onto a stereotypical muscular macho alpha male.

Graphics

The graphics are very good over all. The game features large character sprites, and their animations are well done. The controls will take some time to get used to, because you will need to press and hold the fire button and pull one direction to execute a move – you can’t just chop away with your sword because every move will take a certain amount of time to animate.

Sound

In the game you can select if you want background music or sound effects. The music is very iconic and has an epic style theme which is a perfect fit for this game. The sound effects are also well done – you will hear swords slash through the air, when you headbutt your foe you’ll hear a painful smacking noise. Even more remarkable is the crude laughter the green little goblin creature makes as he drags away the corpse of a fallen combatant.

Summary

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior is a great fighting game – it certainly isn’t a typical button mashing game, and some strategy is needed. You’ll easily learn all the moves in the game, but that doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed a win – like I said, you’ll need to use some strategy, and even more so if you play versus a human controlled opponent.

The game lacks in that it hasn’t very much variation besides the different moves and strategies you can utilize, and that there is only one kind of opponent to fight, apart from Drax himself.

Developed By: Palace Software
Published By: Palace Software
Version Reviewed: Commodore 64
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-2
Alternate Title: Barbarian: Death Sword
Also Available On: Amiga 500, PC DOS
Released: 1987

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