Barbarian 1 logo

PICTURE yourself as a barbarian fighting for the love of Maria Whittaker (down boys). You are not alone in your desires and have rival Sun readers to fight off. They come at you one by one in the forest for a "discussion", each with enormous broadswords and very little on. Prepare yourself before battle commences. You spend the first half hour getting killed, very, very quickly. After a while things get better and you begin to enjoy hacking the foe to bits, especially when a well aimed blow decapitates him. The head falls to the ground with a spurt of blood from his severed neck accompanied by a scream and satisfying thud as the torso tumbles. Wholesome stuff.

The graphics on Barbarian are a bit of a let down. It would seem that the Atari ST graphics were simply dumped from one machine to the other. The figures are very basic, in colouring and in form. One redeeming factor is that they move in a very lifelike manner especially in sword fighting. The game's designer, Steve Brown, videotapes himself wielding swords and kicking, and then watches the tape to produce the graphics. The digitised sound is very good, and the gurgles, screams and thuds being particularly realistic. All good blood curdling stuff, forget your karate games and get into this.
If there's a digitised piccy of Maria at the end, I haven't got there yet, but it gives you an incentive to fight ever onward.

All in all it's a good game and somewhat addictive. A bit more detail in the characters wouldn't have gone amiss. This must be the last in this series of two guys beating each other up in very nice scenery. It's wearing a bit thin, but no doubt someone will come up with yet another scenario with different graphics and surprisingly familiar gameplay. A good one for all the hackers out there, that's the violent ones, not the quiet key tapping types, or are you an Arnold Schwarzenegger in Woody Allen clothing?

Barbarian 1 logo CU Screen Star

Price: £19.95

Since Barbarian came into the office the air has been filled with grunts, groans, screams and the sounds of metal against metal and metal against flesh. It has also turned a rather obvious shade of dark blue and the office gearbox is now bursting at the seams (mainly thanks to C&VG's adipose as manager, Garry Williams). Yes, everyone here at CU has got Barbarian fever. If we had a pick of the month, then this enhanced version of Palace's Commodore 64 classic hack 'n' chop 'n' beat 'em up would undoubtedly be 'the man for the job'.

What makes Barbarian on the Amiga is the excellent use of sampled sounds. 'Prepare to die!' announces the computer, before either one or two players fight it out in a duel to the death. Swords swish and clash with a healthy 'clang'; the combatants grunt and roar in pain, and there is a gratifying 'crack' when you successfully execute a headbutt. Leave the joystick alone for a few seconds and the fighter under your control turns to face you, shrugs his shoulders and says, in a somewhat uncharacteristically camp voice, "C'mon'.

A well-timed blow to your opponent's neck removes his head, with a spurt of crimson (human) bean juice and an appropriately sickening slicing sound, followed by a stomach-churning squelch as the severed loaf hits the floor. As you raise your sword in triumph, a squat, deformed green creature hobbles on screen and laughs menacingly at the decapitated warrior's misfortune, before kicking the head off screen and dragging the corpse off to ye local pie shoppe.

All this nail-biting action takes place against one of four attractive backdrops: a forest scene, followed by a valley, then inside Drax's castle. Who is Drax you may well ask? Well, he is an evil sorcerer who is holding Princess Maria (played by Ms Whittaker) - erm holding her, um, hostage. So if you don't fancy a little man to man with a friend you can always fight against the increasingly ferocious computer-controlled opponents in an attempt to rescue the comely, buxom wench.

There are sixteen macho moves available, ranging from a kick to straightforward cuts and slashes, and the well-crucial Web of Death - a dazzling display of swordsplay which involves whirling your weapon around in front of you in a very cocky manner. Guaranteed to impress the girls, this one.

Barbarian on the 64 was great; this 16-bit incarnation is even better. It is graphically superior, a lot faster and smoother, and the use of sampled sound effects ice a beautifully prepared cake. One of the collection, methinks.
Gangway boys, I want to give Williams another trashing...

Barbarian 1 logo

Palace Software, £14.99

That controversial slice 'em up game is back again - this time on the Atari ST and Amiga. Barbarian has two options: a head-to-head combat practice and mission, where the player battles ten fighters and a Wizard to rescue a maiden.

Palace sound supremo, Richard Joseph has used sampled sound effects to create a stunning atmosphere. Swishing and clanking swords, grunts, screams of pain and even gasps of effort play a perfect part in the action. Listening to a fight is incredible - it sounds just like a Conan film!

It's a shame there isn't a solo practice option, as rescuing the Princess stops the action just as things hot up! Mind you, the action is still thoroughly enjoyable, with some adrenalinpumping fight sequences.

Barbarian is definitely the sort of game that gets loaded time and again. It plays beautifully and has a fabulous 'feel' - you can really identify with the fighters. At a relatively cheap £15, Barbarian offers plenty of gory entertainment and shouldn't be missed.