The nefarious King John was a bit of a rogue in the Middle Ages when good King Richard was away crusading, spreading the good word and killing anyone who would not listen. It was a time of legends and legendary heroes - Robin Hood, the Three Musketeers and the star of this game, Ivanhoe.
As the knight in shining, it is your job to travel to Austria and rescue Richard the Lionheart from his imprisonment in a castle. That means travelling through five horizontally-scrolling areas taking on all sorts of nasty types who are in league with King John.
Armed with just a shield and a sword it is tough work making your way through the stages, fighting off the magicians who lob fireballs at you, the archers who hide in trees and the thugs who come at you with anything they can get their hands on.
As in most hack 'n' slash games, you can use a series of aggressive moves and non-aggressive moves, depending on whether you have the fire button depressed or not. There are also extra weapons to collect by killing certain yobs (like the ones in trees) including a bigger shield and a triple shot which has the strange effect of turning you into three Ivanhoes so you can attack front, back and overhead at once.
Unfortunately, all the extra weapons have a limited lifespan and you lose any extras once you lose one of your five lives.
Should you make it to the end of a level you are rewarded with the chance of a bonus fight against a large enemy, which gives you an extra life if you manage to slay him.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
There has been a lot of noise made about the graphics of the game because some of the people who did the cartoon movie Asterix have worked on them. It shows, too, because the sprites and backgrounds are very impressive. Less impressive, however, is the animation, which is slightly jerky. The sound effects and music are somewhat less than awe inspiring.
This game is murderously tough, so it will take you a while to complete it. Unfortunately, all but the most determined players will give up the attept long before the final screen.
Looks great, plays mediocre. The gameplay is lacking in variety despite the quantity of different areas, so boredom sets in quickly. Sadly, Ivanhoe is not up to the high standard we have come to expect from Ocean.