Defender of the Crown

aka: Conquering England, DOTC, Defender of the Crown: Obrońca Korony
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Description official descriptions

Defender of the Crown puts the player in the role of one of four Saxon knights in medieval England, in a time where the land is in turmoil as the King is dead and his crown was stolen. The Saxons and the Normans blame each other and fight for control of England.

After a short introduction by Robin of Locksley himself, the game starts with a single castle and 10 soldiers at your command. From there, you have to build your army, take control of additional territories and fight and defeat the three Norman lords - and sometimes your Saxon friends as well.

In addition to the basic 'build your army and conquer your opponents' the game offers several events and options that can be used to fine tune your play style: You may engage in a jousting contest where you have to knock your opponent off his horse, gaining either fame or land, or you can go raid a castle for loot or the hand of a princess, joining your houses and territories.

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Credits (Amiga version)

15 People

Written by
Computography and Mical Game System by
Art Director
Executive Producers
Associate Producer
Documentation by
Package Illustration by



Average score: 72% (based on 49 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 232 ratings with 10 reviews)


The Good
As the story goes this Amiga classic stunned people not only for its gameplay but its amazing graphics, it is the game that introduced us to Cinemaware (I'm not sure why this is credited to Mindscape when Cinemaware has its name plastered all over the box). Most people experienced it on the IBM in the CGA version, a rare EGA conversion exists but I have not played it. While the conversion lacks the sounds and sites of the original Amiga, the game did not lose one bit of the fun factor. If anything its gameplay is better than the Amiga!

The basic story is the Saxon and Norman lords are trying to unite England under their rule. Battles take place over provinces which provide different amounts of gold per turn. Gold can be used to buy infantry, knights, catapults or castles. Each turn you can move your army around the map and invade enemy provinces. You can also raid castles for gold or hold jousting tournaments, which are arcade sequences in the main straregy game. You played the Saxon side as one of three lords, you could pick your character from 4 lords with different strengths and weaknesses but I always picked Geoffry Longsword. I havn't played the game in 10 years and I still remember that name!

Its hard for me to describe what made this game such a joy. It had simple gameplay, a great game atmosphere and just seemed to be out at the right time for me. I was learning medival European history in school when I was playing this game. It was just tons of fun to be raiding castles, rescuing fair ladies and visiting Robin Hood for help in your quest for the crown.

The Bad
Well the CGA graphics are orange based which is rather bland. They are pretty acceptable but I wish I could have played the EGA version. Also because the jousting is in tweaked CGA the graphics might crash when you play. In the day my EGA card could be set to CGA mode to avoid this.

Its not multiplayer! The game would have been amazing if you could battle another person.

Learning how to use the catapult was challenging as without good catapult skills you could never take a castle.

The Bottom Line
Really one hell of a fun game. One of the best to come out of the 80s, strategy players and fans of the historical era should play this at least once!

DOS · by woods01 (129) · 2001

A little known CLASSIC game at the dawn of Modern GRAPHICS & Adult-themed gaming!

The Good
Alrighty, I, along with every pre-teen and teen gamer, KNOW we were first attracted to this game because of the phenomenal Cover Art! Who didn't stare for hours and hours at that Damsel in Distress slung unconscious over the horse?!? :)=)

As for the game itself, it was a FUN combination of real time strategy, some Arcade action, some luck, and a steep learning curve. Raiding enemy castles was FUN as heck! The sword fighting a-la 3 Musketeers style, how you have to do a final death-stab into the enemy, and figure out the puzzle of what to do with the final 3rd enemy guard in the castle.

And yes, you get to rescue the Damsel in Distress. It's a mission, kinda long but still fun. The makers of this game are on record saying they were aiming for a much more mature audience... by adding the little sex scene after you rescue the very thankful Damsel in Distress. It's tastefully done, but the intended target audience is obvious - more mature gamers. The Amiga graphics were mind-blowing. The Commodore-64 graphics pushed the limits of the C-64.

I also like how you get to take over parts of the map. And the various choices available to aid you in your conquest. Castle raiding, Jousting, Sieging, blatant attacking, different military units including calvary, and more. There are different levels of play, depending on which character you pick.

There are also a few puzzles - not too strenuous on the mind though (compared to the games Bard's Tale I, and Bard's Tale II ! LOL!)

The re-play value is very high. Expect to get months of re-play value. I played it a solid 4 months. Then off and on every 3 months or so.

Modern games are much better now, with far better graphics, and gameplay equal to this game. Alas, few modern mainstream games have continued to pursue and program tastefully adult elements like this game has. But if you want a trip in time back to when modern graphics were just starting to show up, this is the game to check out.

The Bad
The learning curve is VERY steep when first starting this game. One has to have a never give up attitude. You will get mashed like crazy by the many NPC kings. After one figures out this game, then it becomes even more fun, and much easier to play. It took me a few weeks of brainstorming to figure out what worked and didn't work. Lots of trial and error, and some minor puzzle solving. The puzzles are a love hate thing. Love them because they make the game harder and more interesting. Hate them because they make the game more harder heheheh.

After 2 or so months of playing this game, it becomes very easy to finish, and win almost every time. You will then play it maybe once every 3 months or so. But it will not stay permanently forgotten, buried in the bottom of your closet.

The Bottom Line
A mix of Arcade Action, Map conquering Risk-style game play, with some tastefully adult themes programmed into it. The learning curve is very steep when first starting out. After roughly 1 month of gameplay the game becomes much easier to figure out and play. Still loads of fun all the way, with nice re-play value as you try the harder levels by choosing the harder characters.

Too bad the current, modern, definition of adult games is a game with excessive violence, and maybe some swear words. It would be interesting to see some new modern games pursue the course this game went on - having tastefully done adult sex scenes. Sans the excessive violence, and no swear words.

Commodore 64 · by XplOrOrOr (14) · 2004

The classic of classics.

The Good
Defender of the Crown has, for years, defined for me what a game should be: simple, challenging, beautiful, and most of all - memorable. I have first seen this game at the age of 5 or 6 on a neighbour's Amiga 1000; seeing as what I had 'till then was a Spectrum ZX80 and an IBM PC-clone (with CGA graphics), this was leaps and bounds beyond everything I've ever seen, and the experience has left its mark in me. Even today I can't help but gawk at the graphics, a piece of genuine art by James D. Sachs, and get bleary-eyed at the sound of the game theme, written by the brilliant musician .

Defender of the Crown brings a genre-defying mix of strategy and action; dubbed an "interactive movie," though this may now sound corny it was definitely a novel concept when the game came out; Cinemaware's impressive knack for pulling the impossible has coined a legendary remark from one of the spectators where the game was on display, who has said: "So where is the laserdisc?" The game really is that good.

Starting with an overview of the map of England, you must proceed to build your army and use it to take over as much territory as possible. Five computer opponents (two Saxons, three Normans) will not miss an opportunity to hinder your advancement; they will attack and take over your territories, steal your taxes (check out the screenshots), call you out to a jousting match to demonstrate their superiourity. You will definitely want to strike back! Aided by Robin of Locksley (who will aid you up to three times), you can launch raides to steal gold from other Lords, attack their territories and lay siege to their own castles. There is always the possibility that a distressed Saxon Lord will send you to raid an enemy castle to rescue his beautiful daughter (and you will be rewarded with one of the most memorable scenes in computer gaming history).

Defender of the Crown looks and plays much like a movie, and the atmosphere of this game is simply astounding, as is its technical marvel. It is a piece of gaming history that for me will always define gameplay for the rest of my life.

The Bad
An old game though Defender of the Crown is, it is easy to forgive its various shortcomings (most of which were addressed on the PC version, but are overstated in the other versions).

To begin with, the jousting scene is ruthlessly difficult. I can manage one out of maybe ten jousts on a lucky day; on the PC it's more like one of three (and on the PC, it's not only a matter of luck). The battle options are few and far between, and I sorely lack the warfaring characters of the PC's battle interface. The greek fire and disease options are missing from the Amiga version, which is unfortunate; also, there are two major problems in the battles: the larger army wins 99% of the time with ridiculously low casualties (even if the winner's is only 2 soldiers more than the loser's), and as for the other 1%, you can attack a 10 soldier garrison with 200 soldiers and lose. Last but not least, the swordplay scenes are generally ridiculously easy - just pick Geoffery Longsword, point your mouse to the right side of the screen and click away.

Defender of the Crown on the Amiga is also notorious for its loading times; I've never had a hard drive or an extra floppy drive for any Amiga I've used (none of mine [2x A1000 and 1x A500+] have any and neither does my neighbour's) and the constant disk switching and loading do get annoying after a little while. Also the game runs differently on the various machines; the music timing is vastly different between my A1000s (Kickstart 1.3), the A500+ with its default 2.04 ROM and the A500+ softkicked to 1.3. Still, seeing as I have the exact machine this game was meant to be run on (A1000 with 512k memory) I guess it's alright.

The Bottom Line
A game like no other, an amazing ride for those who have been in the right place at the right time. I only wish people nowadays would be able to have this almost religious experience, but unfortunately Cinemaware's "new and improved" Defender of the Crown just didn't deliver. I still play this game in its various incarnations over 15 years after it first came out, and I don't think I'll ever stop.

Amiga · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 2002

[ View all 10 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
PC CDROM version got released in the 90s abstauber Oct 11th, 2018
Screenshots at the wrong entry? ZeTomes (36315) Jul 19th, 2017
Links Cavalary (11397) Sep 20th, 2014
Interview with Bob Jacob St. Martyne (3644) Dec 13th, 2009


1001 Video Games

Defender of the Crown appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

CGA version

The CGA version "tweaks" the screen during the joust; the furious riding on your horse makes the screen "shake". This locks up the game on VGA cards, but if you can avoid this if you play it under a pseudo-emulator like Windows or OS/2 (or just don't joust during the game).

EGA version

There was bootable version released that supported EGA/Tandy graphics and Tandy 3-voice sound, which greatly enhanced the PC version of the game. Unfortunately, this version is extremely rare and most people only have the CGA/PC Speaker version.

Freeware release

A full version of this game is available online at (the full link is in the links section). The game plays in any browser.

Version differences

  • The C64 version of the game has three Saxon ladies that can be kidnapped, and the NES version only has one lady while every other version has four.
  • The Commodore 64 version of Defender of the Crown was also released on tape in Europe, as disk drives were expensive in Europe at the time and most people still used tape drives. The tape version is trimmed down to fit on the smaller storage of tape, and is missing several pictures found on the disk version. Some of the missing pictures are Robin Hood at the start of the game, and the closeup views of the Saxon damsels after you rescued them.
  • The DOS and the NES version have inferior graphics and audio quality compared to other systems. However, these ports feature more in-depth strategic elements - most of the strategic movements of the Saxons and Normans are not determined but randomized.
  • The Amiga version does not contain some features like Greek fire and disease attack options, which were include in other ports. According to Bob Jacob (Cinemaware founder) the most complete version of "Defender of the Crown" was the Atari ST release (interview in "Your Amiga" magazine issued in, June 1988 on page 16).

CD audio version

In 1988 Rick Levine programmed a CD quality audio version of Defender of the Crown. The Defender of the Crown code still resided on and ran from the PC, but hooks were placed in the code to play the CD quality audio off the CD -- on a Hitachi CD-ROM player. David Riordan had the CD quality audio created. That special CD-ROM version was demonstrated at a conference (might have been the Game Developers Conference that year), but it was never released to the public. However in 1991 the Amiga CDTV version of the game was released and next to minor graphical improvements contains major sound enhancements including two CDDA soundtracks.


  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
  • Commodore Format
    • February 1991 (Issue 5) - listed in the A to Z of Classic Games article (Great)
    • November 1994 (Issue 50) – #17 The All-Time Top 50 C64 Games
  • Computer and Video Games
    • May 1988 (Issue #79) - Golden Joystick 1988 Award: Runner up in category Strategy Game of the Year
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #92 in the “150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #2 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
  • Gamespy
    • March 2000 - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • ST Fomat
    • May 1990 (Issue #10) - Included in the list "ST Format's 30 Kick-Ass Classics"

Information also contributed by PCGamer77, Ricky Derocher; Terrence Bosky and Tomer Gabel

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Browser added by Picard. NES, Commodore 64 added by PCGamer77. Jaguar added by Indus. ZX Spectrum added by twitek. Macintosh added by Dragom. Android, CDTV added by Kabushi. Atari ST added by ZZip. Apple IIgs added by Eli Tomlinson. iPad, iPhone added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Windows added by Alexander Schaefer. Game Boy Advance added by Xa4. Amstrad CPC added by cafeine. CD-i added by Geoffrey Palmer.

Additional contributors: JRK, Ricky Derocher, RodeoInTheGreatWhiteNorth, Richard Levine, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Jo ST, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added August 4th, 1999. Last modified August 20th, 2023.