In those dark ancient times all business was settled with brute force, magic and steel. In our story, however, steel must ultimately prevail. Drax the evil sorcerer threatens to cast a terrible curse upon the people of Jewelled City unless they trade Princess Mariana for their well-being. Without further ado they complied. "Well, that was boring!" - Drax thought. And so he came up with a new bargain for his sordid amusement: the one who defeats a number of his best warriors shall have the Princess back. Many brave souls have perished in vain and, like in all such tales, when all hope seemed lost this champion came...
Jokes aside, this is, in fact, one of the major reasons as to why I prefer Spectrum version over the rest (aside from the fact I only ever played it on Spectrum, of course), because only here you can really tell who is who and your adversary does indeed look dreadful and sinister, whereas other ports used different armor or skin color (your enemy being mulatto or black) to distinguish the characters, which in my opinion is inadequate at least from pure aesthetical point of view. I also wonder how people of color would assess it...
Now for the gameplay. Arnold... I mean, the protagonist is quite a virtuoso with his broadsword and can do a few more tricks than one would normally expect. Though, as usual, a good deal of those stunts are hardly urgent and mostly either semiuseful or completely redundant. It's ironic that a couple of your auxiliary non-sword attacks like headbutts and kicks are often more successfully delivered, but are less efficacious, however. You can defend yourself in a variety of ways, but it won't be very helpful as it requires extremely quick reaction, which only your opponent seems to have mastered. Funnily enough, he is still subject to your supremacy.
While the above is a good accomodation technique, this is yet another sad case of cool-but-f*ck-it set of moves, so you are bound to stick with just a few of them, namely headbutts, kicks, rolling and one type of sword attack, which can be anything, really. You're probably thinking wouldn't it be a little better if you could at least block all your enemy's attacks by simply stepping back? Unfortunately, it was just a bit too early for such profound novelty *sarcasm*.
Finally, when all your enemies are defeated you are to face Drax himself. Surprised? Hold on a second, that wasn't in the terms and conditions! Oh, this isn't a real fight, all you have to do is get real close to him while dodging his fireballs or whatever it is that he's casting. Not that I ever got that far in the game, but something tells me those can smite you in an instant, therefore a little bit of reaction is necessary here. Having reached Drax your character autoslays him and the Princess is all yours. Enjoy!
Incidentally, this is one of those games that shouldn't be played with a joystick unless you want to break that thing in no time. I've never mentioned this before in my reviews, probably because it's irrelevant for emulator users, but it is pretty actual for genuine Spectrum owners as it was in my days of glory. Whenever you are faced with controls involving combinations like RIGHT+UP or LEFT+DOWN joystick is a bad, BAD idea, because it is simply not designed to work that way. This, of course, should be played with a keyboard or gamepad. Speaking of the latter, I used gamepads from Sega Master System with my Spectrum, which turned out to be fully compatible!
Notwithstanding some of the obvious shortcomings, which have become habitual not only for Spectrum, but pretty much all 8-bit family computers, this is one exceptional and spectacular game as it displays a pretty bold attempt to imitate fencing at its best let alone amazing graphics, which at the time had received 5 stars. Yes, controls aren't really well thought out. Yes, you cant't have a rapid reaction next to telepathy, which may downgrade your experience to a cheesy action figure bout, but at least it offers you a freedom of choice. And if you're tired of the computer being too smart you can always quit the story mode and play with your friend instead.