Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior
for C64
Also available for: ZX Spectrum

Mr Creosote:deepfree:Overall:
Popular Vote:
Alternate Titles: Barbarian: Der mächtigste Krieger
Company: Palace Software
Year: 1987
Genre: Action
Theme: Abstract
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 136609
Review by Mr Creosote (2007-09-05)

To get the story over with: Evil wizard has captured the princess, oily muscleman carrying a huge sword tries to free her by first confronting the sorcerer's soldiers and then the evil master himself.

Barbarian can be played in two modes. First, there are training fights with blokes you happen to run across in the wilderness. This part can also be played by two human players. The actual campaign for the princess is limited to one player versus the evil computer, though.

For whatever reason, you only ever have to struggle with one opponent at a time. Using various moves (triggered by joystick with mediocre responsiveness), you try to bring the enemies energy bar down to zero before your own one reaches the bottom.

Nothing really special, Barbarian got famous and popular for other reasons than originality or sizzling playability. Its main attraction with kids back then was the brutality it shows. On top of the 'coolness' scale: the move which makes your character chop the opponent's head off (complete with a goblin coming in to drag the body away, kicking the severed head aside).

Also, since the fights all take place either in front of the wizard's throne or in his arena, he's always there himself. But not alone - the scantily clad princess is always there, too. This lead to demands from players for her to appear naked. One cracked version (which we're offering for the sake of hypocrisy) delivers that as well.

So, while Barbarian might not be especially appealing for its gameplay, it's the forefather of a huge trend which would develop only many years later. These days you'll have a hard time finding a game for which there isn't a 'nude' patch, and lots of gore is always included by default anyway. Way ahead of its time (whether you interpret this in a positive or negative way is up to you), even if it looks quite tame by today's standards, of course.

Archived Review(s) ↓

Review by deepfree (2013-01-09)

As a child, I found Barbarian to be a very decent game. Obviously it wasn't Barbarian that truly took up too much time, but I still felt it was a game that worked out pretty well. Now as a grown-up, I can see that while the game is in fact quite decent, it is also very flawed in the way it was made.

Barbarian is a small fighter with somewhat okay graphics, they aren’t eye popping at all, and when you finally take off your nostalgic glasses, you see that the game clearly hasn’t aged well. The music of Barbarian isn’t anything special either, it is there, but if you take any other C64 game out there, you can find SID music way better than what Barbarian has to offer. One I might mention is the track for Garfield - Big Fat Hairy Deal, a track that is both interesting and amazing, something Barbarian really cannot say it is.

There is story in Barbarian, but it really isn’t important. As soon as you begin the game, you are going to see why. Barbarian is one of those games that come along and might make a little boy like myself many many years ago happy, but as a grown-up, the game doesn’t really have anything to offer, it’s a mess. The controls are clunky and the value that you get out of the game is mediocre to say the least.

To finish this little quick review off, I might say that you could try and get it, but if you do, I would suggest just getting it off the net, you don’t really need to buy it. It isn’t expensive, but even for that it isn’t really worth it. Barbarian is a mediocre boring slaptick mess that shouldn’t be played by anyone unless you are a little kid who doesn’t know better, or you are tormenting your son or daughter.

Comments (7) [Post comment]

Herr M.:
Oh boy, where the ads like the box cover? They are most certainly… memorable. :P
The trivia about the joystick is also quite interesting.

I actually wanted to post a picture of that, too, as well as a photo of Arnold. I thought I should try a different format for a change, but I don't know how to do that. Maybe adding semi-related content could make reviews a little more attractive. And I don't mean just bitmap stuff, maybe some audio tracks or videos, etc, but integrated directly in the review.

Mr Creosote:
Those "innocent" days of drive-by sexism :P
What I really like about this game is it's advertisement in computer magazines at that time :D
Herr M.:

Interestingly enough the Spectrum version really looks better than the C64 one. As monochrome as they might in in places, overall they are more vivid and less pixelated. Although it also depends on how smooth the movements are, especially in a game likes this.

The trivia about the joystick is also quite interesting. In my whole gaming career I only owned one so far, and it was an analogue one which should be tad bit less prone to breaking due to such movements. It went kaput nevertheless… too much Tie fighting. :P

It was one of the best games on Spectrum, and it actually looked a bit better than C64 version. Although, lacking in colour but compensating with better detail, which, i believe, is of higher priority here. The gameplay is pretty good, all the moves are quite diverse, the graphics and animation are on top (for those times). BUT.. there's just one little disadvantage: absolutely no variety of opponents, but just one and the same, which if defeated becomes tougher, and this neverending battle never ceases, but just goes on and on. I think that's a great flaw and in a sense leaves the game incomplete or even makes a demo version out of it. However, it's still a masterpiece, and since the people back then weren't as spoiled as we are today, they considered it to be perfect.