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Barbarian (DOS)

Genre
Perspective
...
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Terry Callahan (67)
Written on  :  Feb 12, 2009
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars

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Summary

Nostalgia, but not much else.

The Good

To begin with, this is a little bit biased on my part, because this game, like other games like Airborne ranger, Eye of Horus, Aaargh, and the others, is one of the first I ever played, and naturally this would give a slight favor towards it from any person. I actually thought this game was pretty good when I was kid, hearing the really badly digitalized voice say 'barbarian' at the start was, from what I believe the very first voice I heard from a video game.

The game featured you as Hegor, the inevitable Conan the Barbarian clone, going on an adventure to kill the wizard Necron (who's easier to knock down than glass bottle with a machinegun) for some mysterious reason... seriously, what DO barbarians have against wizards? Maybe I should be hitting the old Conan the Barbarian novels to figure that one out.

The graphics were OK, and there's actually quite a variety of enemies for you to go at even if they're not exactly the hardest enemies in the history of video gaming. There are some death traps in the game that would require you to constantly be on guard making sure that you won't be finishing the game in the first run through. Some the animation is mildly amusing, too, such as the one to make your character run away, it never fails to put a smile on my face to see a supposedly 'tough' barbarian run away in a comically cartoonish manner.

Even the unusual control feature of the game, wild bewildering at first, isn't as bad as some people make it out to be. It's only if you've never seen it before or you haven't played the game in a long time does it get confusing. It's actually very easy to learn and does add a unique touch to the game.

The Bad

OK, with the minor good stuff that has been said about the game, here comes the negative... first of all, there's really no story given at all. In the manual of the game (the only place where you learn the barbarian and the wizard's names) they mention that you have to destroy the crystal that he drops... but make no mention as to why you're fighting him to begin with. Seriously, the story seemed more like a justification for existence than an actual story. They could have at least put something in like revenge or freeing the country from his tyranny or something like that in there to explain exactly what was going on.

Also the game itself is not too terribly hard to finish. Except for some parts about the old 'dropping stone' traps from the ceilings (which can be avoided easily once you know where they are), and the enemies are just too pathetic to really be of any threat. I was only killed once by them, and that was an accident on my part, too. Adding some kind of combat system in the game would have made for a great addition and made the game a lot more enjoyable than just 'don't let the enemy come too close and then thwack them with your sword!'. In fact, they were so easy to beat that they were more of an annoyance than a challenge.

To make matters worse, the final wizard in the end game was no stronger than a regular wizard enemy that you meet in the screen before him. Only difference is, he can't be killed with arrows, you have to be very clever with him... using the magic 'shield' to reflect his own magic upon him. It's a task so hard you might actually want to put your coffee cup down to make sure you concentrate enough and not on whatever music video you might have on the side from youtube.

The sound in the game is another problem. Other than Hegor's death cries, the sound in the game sounded suspiciously like that PC speaker tunes of Airborne ranger and a myriad of other games that were out at the time. They were really annoying and didn't add much atmosphere.

The Bottom Line

Well, are you very first conscious memories from the late 80's? Then you might have played this game and as such, you might have experienced some of it and just the nostalgia factor might want you to come back and play it every now and then for old times sake.

For all other people, however, this game doesn't hold much appeal. If you're a collector of old games, as I am, you might want to download it, test play it for a few minutes, then just quietly forget about it. It's a nice classic that few people know about, but maybe that's what makes it have that teeny tiny bit of charm.