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)

My favorite game ever.

The Good
This is indeed a favorite of mine. I remember playing the Amiga version on a neighbour's computer, then getting the PC game and (a month ago) getting the EGA version (which I frankly like a lot less). This game has simply amazing graphics, beautiful and memorable music and incredibly addictive levels of gameplay. With many subgames and versions for just about every platform in existance, how can one go wrong?

The Bad
Nothing! It's amazing!

The Bottom Line
One of the best games you'll ever play (if you like old games, that is).

PC Booter · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 2000

It's everything you hate about the original, plus nothing you love.

The Good
I... guess? the fact that they put a couple extra minigames (the morningstar fight and the castle defense with crossbow). Not the minigames themselves, but the fact that they thought to include them.

And the fact that it was published by Ultra Games, who also published the NES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is actually one of my favorite games on the console, so as far as I'm concerned, that's a positive for me...

And... that's about it.

The Bad
Everything else.

To begin with, the original Defender of the Crown, from 1986, was largely a "playable" tech demo for the Amiga computer's graphical capabilities -way, way beyond those of any other computer, console, or even arcade system of its day-, but not much else; the gameplay itself, what little of it there was, was extremely difficult to the point of being almost completely impossible -a common tactic to hide that a game is really very short and/or on around the same level of complexity as the original Pong; see also Dragon's Lair or Shadow of the Beast-. Unfortunately, this NES version is no different.

The controls, like in all the Amiga versions of all the Cinemaware games I've played, are slow, clumsy, and unresponsive. Trying to aim your lance in the joust or walk forward in the swordfights is like playing arm wrestling with the control pad. These are not controls fit for action minigames, which is a problem, because your success in this game depends on your success at the minigames.

Which ties into problem number two; the money balance and AI. You are supposed to conquer territories to collect gold and use that gold to hire an army. But the enemies start right next to the most valuable lands (between six and eight gold every month), allowing them to get bigger armies than yours, more quickly than you can. Once they do, they go into a frenzy and start crushing everyone who gets in their way. Your only hope of success is to get to the southern lands before they do -leaving your castle completely unprotected while you're at it, because in the first few fights you won't get anywhere with less than twenty guys- and hope they don't inconvenience you too much before you can raise enough money; hardly a sensible idea for a "strategy" game. Also doing well at the minigames so you won't have to worry about conquering lands or collecting taxes (just joust/steal the other guy), but that's its own hurdle, as detailed above.

Finally, the graphics and audio are, to say the least, atrocious. The NES was capable of excellent graphics and audio, but it was simply not up to the task of looking like even a Commodore 64 port of an Amiga game, which is the reason this version should have never been even attempted in the first place. And that's about as much as I can say about it.

The Bottom Line
Beam Software, the actual developers of this port, essentially made the same mistake Elite Systems made when they ported Dragon's Lair to the NES. Since they could never recreate the original graphics, they thought they could compensate by recreating the original gameplay, either not knowing, not realizing, or not caring that the original gameplay was barely there and what was there was unreachable. So what they have left us with is a game named after the original that possesses all the flaws of the original and none of its virtues. If you really like turn-based strategy games with action minigames and you must have one for NES, I recommend North and South instead.

NES · by Ognimod Zeta (7) · 2022

This is one of the greatest of the classics.

The Good
The play control was excellent, the sound was as good as the Commodore give, and the graphics were stellar. The strategy was one of the best I have ever encountered, and the gamer interface set the industry standard.

The Bad
This is a tough one. Most likely the only thing that I didn't like about the game was the fact that you couldn't actually play as Robin Hood, even though getting help from him was pretty cool it would have been nice to be able to choose him as a playable character.

The Bottom Line
Considering the platform, the time, and the limited capabilities of the Commodore 64, this game should go down as one of the greatest of all time.

Commodore 64 · by Tarzan Dan (25) · 2004

[ 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 (36313) 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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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.