JUST when you thought it was safe to step back into your loincloth, Barbarian II from Palace has arrived. And this time he's out for... well, probably much the same things as last time actually - a spot of death and destruction, all nicely rounded off with a great haul of treasure to improve his credit rating.
Can't argue with that, I suppose. At least not to his face.
This time he's got help. There is a choice of playing the Dark Destroyer himself or his rather comely companion. Female barbarians? Gotta move with the times I suppose. Whether this move is to attract more female games players seems somewhat dubious after witnessing a few of her near-
An amazing opening sequence, even by Amiga standards, draws you into the game. Nice animated effects and sampled speech even for the "Insert Second Disc" request.
Why can;t everyone put as much effort into this sort of thing? One doesn't mind so much rooting around the box and manuals and swapping discs when it is done in an interesting and entertaining manner.
Each level consists of a maze full of undesirables almost begging to be hacked, slashed gouged and generally inconvenienced. Not only must you find the exit, but you must also collect the two magic items if you are to be able to withstand Drax - the big nasty - at the end of the game.
The items certainly are magic. When you pick them up they flash incessantly for some jolly good and arcane, if a tad annoying, fashion.
The various bad guys, or bad things more properly, all require a different technique to overcome. Enemies floating off the ground are unlikely to be affected by a swing of the sword at knee height. Similarly, there is no point for the neck if your opponent is only two feet tall.
This means a separate strategy needs to be evolved to defeat each type of beast, more so than in other games of similar ilk. A strong will and stern resolve, never mind the possible advantages of being stone deaf, will be needed to overcome the rabid assaults of the giant chicken, presumably recently escaped from a Neanderthal Col. Saunders.
Care must be taken not to let a monster get your back against a wall or with a hole behind you. Look around, find your own ground, because if you get trapped you should have listened to that nice insurance salesman who called last Thursday.
Navigating the maze is fraught with problems, not the least of which are the large holes some unthinking workmen have left all over the place. You'll need to take a running jump at these.
The other problem is that it all starts looking the same: Didn't I pass that molten river and the skull on the stick a few minutes ago?
If you get hopelessly lost it is time to take a look at the poster that comes with the game. This won't help, but at least it will take your mind of the fact that you're going to die in some horribly grotesque and totally unreasonable fashion.
On the whole the animation is nothing spectacular, with the exception of the leaping sequences and the death scenes where our hero or heroine slumps to the ground, usually followed by the victorious baddie celebrating over the prostrate ex-barbarian with a spot of sampled sound.
Palace has made up for spawning a generation of bimbo marketed games by producing a worthy sequel to a good game.