Palace Software‘s Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior is a fondly-remembered and controversial one-on-one fighting game from 1987, where two gladiatorial combatants slug it out to the death in a variety of different locations. Actually, there are two different versions of this game, each with different backgrounds. The first version has a throne room and then a pit. The second version has a meadow and a clearing in a forest. I’m not sure why there are two versions of this game, but that definitely seems to be the case.
Probably the most controversial feature of Barbarian is the decapitation swing that will lop off an opponent’s head in an instant, but only if you time the right move correctly. It’s still a hilarious and highly satisfactory way to end a bout though… The rest of your fighting moves are pretty lame to be honest and using just two or three of them can get you through most fights.
Key to success is the roll, which is where you roll at the feet of your opponent to knock them over, giving you time to then do a kneel attack. But of course they’ll also try to do the same to you. Two opponents rolling at each other can get boring quickly, but it seems to happen quite a lot in this game…
The fighting action is slow and repetitive and the sound effects don’t help either. The late Richard Joseph‘s music is nice, though. Overall, Barbarian is still a fun game to play (especially two-player) for a short while, but the game is so limited that you’ll no doubt get bored of it quickly.
A sequel – Barbarian II: The Dungeon of Drax – was released by Palace in 1988 and is a similar kind of game, but with a multiple screen world that you can explore at your leisure.
Note that it’s easy to get this game mixed-up with Barbarian by Psygnosis. They are completely unrelated games, but a fair few files online are wrong because of this confusion. This is also not helped by the fact that Epyx licensed the game for distribution in North America under the title of “Death Sword“.
More: Barbarian on Wikipedia
More: Barbarian on CSDb
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