Defender of the Crown

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Defender of the Crown
DefenderOfTheCrown.jpg
Amiga cover art
Developer(s)Kellyn Beck
Publisher(s)Cinemaware
Platform(s)MS-DOS, NES, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Apple Macintosh, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, Commodore CDTV, CD-i, Windows, Game Boy Advance, iOS
Release date(s)1986
Genre(s)Strategy game
Mode(s)Single-player
 
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Defender of the Crown
DefenderOfTheCrown.jpg
Amiga cover art
Developer(s)Kellyn Beck
Publisher(s)Cinemaware
Platform(s)MS-DOS, NES, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Apple Macintosh, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, Commodore CDTV, CD-i, Windows, Game Boy Advance, iOS
Release date(s)1986
Genre(s)Strategy game
Mode(s)Single-player

Defender of the Crown is a strategy computer game designed by Kellyn Beck. It was Cinemaware's first game, and was originally released for the Commodore Amiga in 1986, setting a new standard for graphic quality in home computer games.

In 1987 it was ported to DOS, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Macintosh and finally, the Apple IIGS in 1988. It was later ported to the CD-i.

Contents

Gameplay

The game is set in England in the Middle Ages where, following the death of the king, different factions are fighting for territorial control.

The fighting screen was one of the features added to the Atari ST version

The player assumes the role of a Saxon (Wilfred of Ivanhoe, Cedric of Rotherwood, Geoffrey Longsword or Wolfric the Wild) and tries to fight off the Norman hordes and wrestle for control of England. Eventually, the player must fight for control of all territories, and those controlled by other Saxons if they became your enemy. The player must amass armies and fight for control of opponents' castles. The player may engage enemy armies in battle, loot or lay siege to opposing castles. Territories can also be won in the periodic jousting contests. From time to time the player may attempt to rescue a damsel in distress and can appeal for help from the legendary bandit Robin Hood.

The game's strategy boils down to a war of attrition as the player tries to amass larger armies than his opponents and manages to attack their territories at the right time.

Due to financial strains, Cinemaware decided to release the initial version without all the features originally planned for because of their need for revenue. Some features were partially implemented, but were removed so the game could be shipped. Some additional features completed but never seen in the shipped game include flaming fireballs (launched via the catapult), more locations (more varied castles to attack) and more in-depth strategy. Some of these features were implemented in the ports of the game.

Jim Sachs, the primary artist for the game, showcased some of these features on the Amiga during interviews after the release of the game.

Reception

The high-quality graphics made the game a blockbuster; never before had such detailed, colorful and realistic graphics been seen on a home computer. The art direction by James D. Sachs set the game apart. Retrospectively, it can be said that the quality of graphics in the game is far from the highest that Amiga games later reached, but by 1986 standards, the results were admirable. The music by Jim Cuomo is also notable—though it failed to utilize the capabilities of Amiga's sound chip, since the game did not feature digitized sound effects or instrument samples. Some reviewers complained about the "shallowness" of the game: the game could be finished in a very short time and after that there was nothing new to see. This problem was partially overcome with later conversions of the game.

Computer Gaming World lavished praise upon Defender of the Crown's graphics and animation, calling the game "a showcase program to demonstrate the power of the Amiga to your friends." Although the gameplay was not as complex as other strategy games of the time, the reviewer was still exceptionally pleased with Cinemaware's first game.[1]

An excerpt from Brian Bagnall's On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore[2] captures the effect that seeing the game for the first time had on users:

Screenshot of a raid with graphics that were spectacular in 1986 (Amiga version).

Mical saw artist Jim Sachs push the Amiga to its full potential. "Jim Sachs, what a God he is," marvels Mical. "Jim Sachs is amazing. These days everyone sees graphics like that because there are a lot of really good computer graphics artists now, but back then, 20 years ago, it was astonishing to have someone that good."

The final game was a landmark in video game production values. As game designer Bob Lindstrom recalls, "The shock of seeing Defender for the first time was one of those experiences that changed the gaming stakes for all of us."

Compared to other video games of the time, Defender of the Crown established a new level of quality. IBM had Kings Quest by Sierra On-Line, a decent but primitive adventure game. The Macintosh had games like Checkers or Backgammon, or board games like Risk. Defender of the Crown had richer graphics than any computer, console, or even arcade game could boast in 1986. It was a revelation.

Ports

The ports of the game, notably for DOS and the NES, resulted in an enormous loss in graphic and audio quality due to those systems' inferior abilities compared to the Amiga. But these ports featured more in-depth strategic elements compared to the unfinished original version. The Apple IIGS, Atari ST and Commodore 64 versions were ported with better success, the IIGS, Macintosh and ST versions' graphics coming quite close to the Amiga version.

All ports:

Remakes

After a string of successful games and game series, Cinemaware eventually went bankrupt. In 2000, however, Lars Fuhrken-Batista and Sean Vesce bought Cinemaware's name and assets, and founded Cinemaware Inc., naming a remake of Defender of the Crown for modern PCs as one of the reformed company's first projects. The new version, titled Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown was released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 (September 30), Xbox (October 6) and Windows (October 15). The new company also created "Digitally Remastered Versions" of classic Cinemaware games, including Defender of the Crown.

In February 2007, a homage to the game called Defender of the Crown: Heroes Live Forever was released by eGames,[4] who had acquired Cinemaware in 2005. Heroes Live Forever features many of the elements of the original game, including jousting and archery tournaments, raiding castles, rescuing princesses, and laying siege to enemy fortresses via catapult. A new addition to the game involved the use of Hero and Tactic cards during battles, giving the user's army various upgrades during the on-screen melee.

Legacy

Defender of the Crown II was published by Commodore International in 1993 for the CDTV and Amiga CD32.

The Danish band PRESS PLAY ON TAPE remixed the theme music of the game, replacing the instrumental tune with proper medieval-sounding lyrics.

During the second half of 1980s, some games directly inspired by Defender of the Crown were released. Among these was for example Joan of Arc (Rainbow Arts, 1989).

References

External links