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)

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Written by
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Computography and Mical Game System by
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Music
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Documentation by
Package Illustration by

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 49 ratings)

Players

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

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

Good semi-historical, semi-educational leadership game

The Good
The English romance i.e Jim Sachs' artwork. I think the game has meaning particularly to the British or those with British roots, seeing the familiarly shaped continent and familiar counties. It's a short game, you only have to conquer England (depending on the game, you have to defeat the Norman lords or both Saxon and Norman lords), but the randomness makes the game quite replayable.

The gameplay is an improvement over the Amiga, first release. In this version you're not forced to be a murdering or thieving bastard to end your turn and continue the game. You can end your turn with a "pass" or by buying army. Also, your fellow Saxons actually are your fellows. They'll let you camp your army on their land.....sometimes anyway. They may also conquer your lands and besiege your castles.

The Bad
There's nothing much in the game itself I don't like. It's the promotional material I have a real problem with. The box art and blurb make it seem like it's some sort of sexy, adults only adventure, when really, even the love scenes in the game itself are fairly tasteful.

The Bottom Line
It's like an interactive Robin Hood or Ivanhoe adventure. Semi-historical, romanticized violence. Personally I still enjoy it and I think the DOS version is better despite inferior graphics and sound.

DOS · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2018

Probably inferior to the later PC version, despite superior graphics and sound

The Good
Well the artwork gives a lot of romanticism to the game (despite how the box art might make the game appear). I think the game would have particular meaning to British gamers or those with British roots. Seeing the familiar British counties with the same names, but in a much different time, populated by major settlers, the Saxons and Normans. I see the game as semi-historical and semi-educational. Though I think all the characters are fictional, many of them created by British author Walter Scott (people can debate the existence of Robin Hood). Though the game does have a sort of "magical" feel to it, there isn't any magic or divine intervention in the game, which I think further helps the game feel historical and educational.

Some complain that the game is too short and it certainly is quite short, but it does take a lot of effort to not get conquered by the enemy and I'd also say that the game is perfectly replayable. It's of course quite non-linear and random, something that I don't necessarily like, but I think it certainly helps this game.

The Bad
Underneath the romance, the game is pretty barbaric, even more so in the Amiga version. The game puts you on the side of the Saxons and presents them as the heroes with the Normans as the villains, but the Saxon and Norman lords behave in much the same way, conquering, raiding and besieging. In the Amiga version, which after playing the PC version, appears to have been released semi-complete, you can only complete your turn and continue the game by conquering land, raiding a castle or paying for a tournament (which isn't an option if you've just returned from one). So you're often forced to be a murdering or thieving bastard and attack or steal from people who did nothing to you first! (This issue was removed in the PC version, which lets you "pass" to complete your turn, also unlike with Amiga, buying army takes up one turn.) Another thing that I think improved the PC version was your ability to pass through the lands of fellow Saxons. Even in the PC, Saxons can attack Saxons, but in the Amiga, the other Saxon lords are scarcely your allies. Moving your campaign army onto their land is taken as declaring war.

So there is a "female element" to the game. There are four Saxon ladies who can be kidnapped by Normans and you have the choice of rescuing them. If you are successful, she will reward you with "love" (sex). I will admit that the female inclusion was slightly dignified. I wouldn't say that the love scene between the Saxon lord and lady was sexploititive, the ladies do have full names (not like "Anne, Miss July") and their images appear alongside yours at the start of your turn, suggesting a partnership (I've yet to discover if you can rescue multiple damsels and have them presented alongside you as further "conquests").

I'm very disappointed with the promotional material for this game as I think those who made the game should be. The sexploititive cover art and description make it seem like this is some sort of adult-oriented, highly sexual adventure, when really it's not. I don't think it's much more adult than your standard war game of the mid '80s and I think a child could appreciate the fairy tale element i.e the fictional, Walter Scott characters and Robin Hood, and with practice, perhaps understand and appreciate the gameplay system.

The Bottom Line
So the game is an interactive Robin Hood or Ivanhoe movie i.e semi-historical, romanticized violence. Personally I still like the game, though I think the Amiga version is inferior to the PC.

Amiga · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2018

[ View all 10 player reviews ]

Discussion

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

Trivia

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 Cinemaware.com (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.

Awards

  • 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. Commodore 64, NES added by PCGamer77. Jaguar added by Indus. ZX Spectrum added by twitek. Macintosh added by Dragom. CDTV, Android 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.