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Death Sword

aka: Barbarian, Barbarian: Der mächtigste Krieger, Barbarian: El Guerrero Definitivo, Barbarian: Le Guerrier Absolu, Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior, Battle Sword
Moby ID: 1033
Atari ST Specs

Description official descriptions

The evil magician Drax is terrorizing the jeweled city and cast a spell over the beautiful princess Marina who is forced to obey him. From the lands to the north, a hero is sent to help the city and free the princess. He is Gorth, the strongest of the barbarian warriors. With his sword in hand, he has to beat eight of Drax's best warriors and at last the magician himself. He will fight them in the woods, on the mountaintop, in the dungeon... finally reaching Drax's palace itself.

This is essentially a one- or two-player fighting game where you control a big barbarian and fight another player or a computer AI. There are several kinds of hits, and some hits take off half a point while others take off a whole point. Each player has six of these "power points". They also have a special hard to perform "death sword" which decapitates your opponent, killing him with one fell swoop.

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Credits (Atari ST version)

5 People

Conceived and designed by
Atari ST programming by
Sound by
Assistant Artists



Average score: 76% (based on 22 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 84 ratings with 4 reviews)

The ultimate barbarian fighting game, where a moment of hesitation can mean your head - literally!

The Good
Oh, what fun! This game is one of the oldest fighting games ever. Unlike those before it such as the excellent Golden Axe or Double Dragon, in this game is no side scrolling, bash many pitiful enemies. That is NOT the barbarian way. Instead, it is a lot like today's fighting games - two equal opponents have it out, until one of them loses his health or whatever. But Death Sword was way before Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, or these newfangled Tekken, Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur, with their fancy hardware assisted 3D graphics and FPU's. No siree, Death Sword was programmed and played the hard way, with CGA graphics and a processor so slow it couldn't run a toaster.
But seriously, Death Sword is a very good fighting game. There are many moves, blocks and cool rolls to knock your enemy off his feet. You have to have quick reflexes and even quick wits if you want to kill off the more advanced enemies (they all look the same, but they fight increasingly better). You cal also block your opponent's sword, but you have to block the sword were it hits - if you parry a head shot, then you are wide open for a stomach thrust, and you better believe your enemy, whether human or AI, will take advantage of it.
But what makes Death Sword even more special is the decapitation strike. One second of not paying attention can mean the end of the game for you, and if you use it well and time it correctly, your enemy.
This game is fun, and I still play it today - since it apparently still runs perfectly under modern hardware and on Win98.

The Bad
The interface has one bad point: the left and right keys are right next to each other, with no other key between them, as was almost the standard back then. Imagine using a slanted keypad, when the left and right arrows are right next to each other, and you will get some idea how frustrating it is.
A larger variety in the game play and graphics would be better - the game is fun, but after half an hour its becomes boring fighting the enemies who look all the same, over the same background.
And has anyone ever suceeded defeating the evil wizard? I don't know anyone who has, and even though I tried quite a lot, I can't even get close to it - it's too hard to finish the game, and now I will never know how it ends and if I get the girl. sniff.

The Bottom Line
A great fighting game, the predecessor in spirit to today's fighting games, and still more fun the some of them.

DOS · by Mickey Gabel (332) · 2000

More Conan than Conan itself...

The Good
Barbarian (aka Death Sword) is one of the best fighting games for Commodore 64.

In modern days, we have the Street Fighter generation who just can't live without six action buttons and whatnot. The weird thing is, in my opinion, Barbarian's control scheme is even simpler than International Karate's or Exploding Fist's, yet it works wonderfully! In latter eras, C64 fighters tended to get rather simplistic because people forgot the wonderful examples set by these games. Barbarian is simple without being simplistic; normal joystick movement moves the character and button+movement attacks somehow, and there's still plenty of variety in attacks and strategy. The gameplay doesn't devolve into "push the button and the other guy dies" like in many of the latter games.

Barbarian has really a complete arcade feel in it, even when (to my knowledge) no arcade game was actually made. Graphics are top notch (some "visibility" issues though due to limited palette of C64), but that doesn't really hinder the game.

Barbarian's soundtrack is one of my favorite C64 soundtracks of time. The idea was to rip off Conan the Barbarian soundtrack and I think Richard Joseph did, at times, do better work than Basil Poledouris. This is just great stuff. The sound effects are fairly basic, but sound good nevertheless.

The Bad
Mostly, there are some small glitches in graphics (can't always see things perfectly, but, as noted, this isn't much of a problem and is mostly due to C64 limitations). One thing that bugs me is that while the graphics are great, most of the screen is wasted to the logo! Yes, arcade-like, and it's not like it'd been possible to construct bigger sprites anyway, but what's the point?

The Bottom Line
"Between the time when the Ocean drank the market, and the rise of the sons of Aybee-em, there was an age undreamed of. And onto this, Conan®, destined to bear the jeweled crown of A Cloned One upon a troubled brow. It is I, his game librarian, who alone can tell thee of the copycats. Let me tell you of the days of high pixelation!"

Picture this: You have two muscled guys, two really sharp swords, two short pants and only one shirt.

The idea of the game is to use the aforementioned sword to punctuate the other guy.

Two guys hack each other with swords, kick each other, tackle each other, and do other nasty things. Both can take certain amount of damage before dying. Alternatively, it's possible to hack the opponent's head off - quite bloody effect, considering the graphical limitations of the platform. And once the other guy is dead, a goblin comes and carries the body away (and kicks around the head if you ended the battle that way).

There are variety of locales to swordfight in; natural vistas are present in the "practice" mode (where one or two players can play), and medieval/high-fantasy castle scenes are found in the actual game (where there's actually an end boss, but who cares about the plot?).

Barbarian is definitely a to-the-point game. A fighting game can't get much more to-the-point than this.

To me, this is the definitive Conan the Barbarian game - just like Lylat Wars (Starfox 64) remains my definitive Star Wars game.

Commodore 64 · by WWWWolf (444) · 2005

Never liked this one much.

The Good
Reasonable graphics, and the head-removal move is kind of cool. The frog (my brother says troll. Care to disagree?) thing is neat too. But if you truly want to see a favorable review, read my brother (Miki's) upcoming one.

The Bad
Bad controls, hideously slow gameplay along with truely repetitive gameplay and unforgivingly bad sound. This is not a game I like.

The Bottom Line
A bizarre two-person fighting game, which isn't very good either.

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4538) · 2000

[ View all 4 player reviews ]



Michael Van Wijk, the model in the (Barbarian) front cover photo later became Wolf in the UK TV version of Gladiators. His character was something of an overblown pantomime type who aimed to add some light relief to proceedings. The back cover features Maria Whittaker - a famous The Sun's Page 3 model in the 80s .

German index

On October 31, 1987, the German version of this game was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. Two months later, on December 31, 1987, followed the UK import. More information about this topic can be found in the game group.

Inspiration for the sword fighting

Designer Steve Brown wanted to do a sword fighting game. The inspiration for those fights came from the film Conan the Destroyer. He admits he watched the movie for hours to extract the sword fighting scenes. These fighting moves were then re-performed by himself and Gary Carr and also filmed. These short film cuts were then used as a base for the animations in game.


  • Commodore Format
    • March 1994 (Issue 42) Heaven – The Path to Righteousness: 20 Essential Games
  • ST Format
    • January 1993 (issue #42) - #46 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list

Information also contributed by Xoleras


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  • MobyGames ID: 1033
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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Amiga added by EboMike. iPhone, iPad added by Sciere. Commodore 64 added by Der.Archivar. Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro added by Kabushi. Atari 8-bit added by Martin Smith. Atari ST added by ZZip. Electron added by Jack Lightbeard. Antstream added by lights out party. Apple II added by Servo. ZX Spectrum added by RodeoInTheGreatWhiteNorth.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Quapil, Martin Smith, formercontrib, Macs Black, kurt blade, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Monsieur B., Jo ST, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added March 11, 2000. Last modified April 15, 2024.