C64 Review of Barbarian II from Issue 40

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At the end of Barbarian - The Ultimate Warrior, the barbarian rescued the Princess Mariana from the clutches of the evil Drax, having slaughtered hordes of accomplished warriors. Much merryment followed. Drax, however, escaped the Barbarian's vengeance, and fled to the deepest depths of the dungeons beneath his black castle, vowing to avenge himself against the entire Jewelled Kingdom - and a personal vendetta with the barbarian and Mariana.

There is only one way to stop Drax. Both heroic characters - each an expert sword bearer - must travel to Drax's lair and put an end to the sorceror's plans. Only they are skilled enough to survive the treacherous jouney and the terrors of his den. Their quest takes them through volcanic wastelands and underground caverns to the dungeons of the castle and the inner sanctum of Drax himself.

You are given the choice of playing Princess Mariana of the famed barbarian. Both carry formidable weapons; the warrior wields a mighty battle axe, and the princess swings a finely-honed sword. Both are capable of a variety of offensive and defensive moves. Injuries reduce energy, displayed in the top right-hand corner of the screen. When this drops to zero, one of five lives is lost.

Each of the four levels is populated by a series of grisly monsters. Saurian beasts, Neanderthal men, apes and mutant chickens in The Wastelands give way to Stabbers and Floaters, orcs, giant grubs, pit things and ray-shooting eyes in the later stages. Battles with a huge tentacled mutant and an aggressive red demon are a prelude to the final confrontation with the evil Drax himself. Calculatedly well-placed strokes reduce their energy to zero though some monsters can be despatched by a well-aimed head-severing blow.

Each level consists of a maze of approximately 28 screens to be explored with the aid of a sword compass display at the bottom of the screen. Treacherous holes and pits can be avoided by jumping. Faling down into the abyss results in instant loss of life.

Exploration is sometimes halted by locked doors to which the appropriate keys must be found. Other objects give extra energy and resistance to attack, while the jewel and shield give protection against the Living Idol and the Demon. The globe guards against the fatal effects of the spells Drax casts. Once collected, all objects are displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Prepare for the epic quest ahead; hostile monsters and strange lands await you. Grip your trusty battle axe and steel yourself for some horrific action; only the barbarian and Princess Mariana can win the day...

This review was typed in/OCRed by Luke

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In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 69%

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Phil - 15 Jun 2009
This sure made an impression back in the day, but it was never much fun to play. After the intial WOW of the graphics wore off, the game held little interest for me... fiddly controls, slow movement, confusing environment.

I'd stick with the graphics rating, presentation is fine, sound down to mid-80s. Hookability way down to 70% and lastability in the 60's at most.

Rating : 66%
bazfan - 26 Apr 2006
This game still has the playability it had back in its hey day. good fighting action with all kinds of enemyd from dinosaurs to neandethol man. graphics and sounds are amazing.

Rating : 95%
Thomas - 28 Jun 2005
This game has it all for me - blood and gore, and ofcourse fun gameplay. I dont know if it's my ability to feel like im really in the worlds, yielding the axe or sword, but I think the 4 worlds are amazingly created, volcanos spitting in the background, hungry birds just waiting for the next hero to fall so they can pick the bones, the totured souls haning on the walls in the dungeon or even the lurking eyes in the caves..

This Game offers lots of fun - bottom line.. Go try it if you havent already.

Rating : 98%
alessio - 4 May 2005
Oh dear, this didnt age to well did it! i loaded this oldie on my trusty 1541 yesterday..... not so great now days, just plain boring. graphics are somewhat blocky but not bad, tunes pretty good gameplay is just not there anymore.

Rating : 43%
SLF - 26 Aug 2004
One of the less deserved Gold Medals in history. The idea for a sequel is great: a neat departure from a rightfully successful gory fighting game. The graphics are superb: big, colourful and very well animated. There are many imaginative creatures and many funnily horrific ways of dying. I don't see any problem in the weird creatures having yellow blood, seeing the Barbarian and Mariana have it red. The real drawback is the gameplay. The compass system is confusing and annoying. The adventure elements are too bland to have a real impact. The fighting moves are too few (just 4) and many enemies are mandatorily defeated with just one. The turn around command is too easily unwillingly activated. Still, the game retains some entertainment value (due to the brilliant enemies and "what's next?" factor), there's also a chance to choose the character to play, and the final confrontation with Drax is (nearly) worth the frustrating effort. But the gameplay flaws are too severe to be rescued by pretty presentation and some nice ideas and fine touches (such as the Saurian Beast's burp).

Pr 90 Gr 97 So 84 Ho 78 La 52

Rating : 66%
CraigGrannell - 19 Aug 2004
I never really got into this game - the bloodthirsty original seemed more immediate and fun. The exploring element was ruined by the bizarre compass, and the enemies soon became extremely tedious to fight. Also: yellow blood?

Rating : 46%
Paul Glancey
The original Barbarian was renowned for its gore, but Barbarian II is even more horrific! The simple one-on-one fight format has given way to a game featuring some hideous creatures that do the most foul and disgusting things to our heroes. The pit monster, for example, regurgitates warriors' skulls having dragged their owners, kicking furiously, into its gargantuan jaws to crunch within its dark hollow. All this blood-curdling action is depicted in the form of some beautifully defined and realistically animated sprites cavorting about against extremely atmospheric backdrops. The Barbarian himself looks thoroughly convincing, muscles flexing with every swimg of his axe. The sound is of a similarly high standard, with a wealth of hacking, thudding and crunching spot effects (the Dungeon Master's laugh is particularly impressive). It's easy to get involved in the violent gameplay due to the amazing characterisation of the various nasties. On more than one occasion I've found myself shouting at a monster, blaming him for my current position! If you're into a bit of binary bloodshed, I can wholeheartedly recommend shelling out for Barbarian II. Now, where's my battle axe...
Gordon Houghton
Anyone that has any taste for binary violence in the blood will warm to the attributes of Barbarian II. Never has such a wealth of blood and guts been thrown across a monitor screen! The programmer's imagination must have been working overtime to create monsters of such a gruesome appearance, and the attention to graphical detail is phenomenal. The players' characters are stunnningly defined and animated, hacking their way through screens of equally impressive enemies. All of the four levels are well-programmed and designed, each having its own particular atmonsphere. Barbarian II is packed with humorous (if somewhat unsavoury) touches, such as the Saurian Beast that gulps the player's head, or the tentacled pit-monster that drags the unwary warrior into its gaping jaws. It really brings out the worst in you! I must admit that when a creature's head is removed with a swift chop, there's a good deal of satisfaction. If Barbarian appealed to your sicker nature, then Barbarian II is a must!
Paul Sumner
The first game in this series was very well received and despite some controversy over the sexist Maria Whittacker packaging, was instantly recognised as the best beat-'em-up on the Commodore. The Dungeon of Drax is more than equal to its predecessor. Despite a reduction in the number of attacking moves, the exploration element makes it much more playable than the original. The graphics are on the blocky side, but colourful, atmospheric and well defined, and some great animation gives a very pleasing overall visual effect. The sound effects, too, are top quality, using the same type of sample-like sound heard in Palace's Cauldron II and The Ultimate Warrior. Anyone who enjoys beat-'em-ups of any style will love Barbarian II and can be assured of money well spent. It's even better than Barbarian I.
Clear screen layout, responsive controls and choice of character.

Well defined and animated, with both horrific and humorous sequences.

Realistic and amusing effects generate a very compelling atmosphere.

Violent action mixed with exploration elements prove immediately attractive.

With four varied levels and 21 enemies to face, hours of enthralling play are on offer.

By far the best (and goriest) beat 'em up and an excellent sequel to Barbarian.