By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on April 10, 2015
Prepare to journey back in time, further than we've ever gone on the Big Red Timemachine. If you recall our last encounter, you might remember that I am now the absolute ruler of this little business. There's one major advantage about having this title, and that's only doing exactly what I want. Now, don't think for a minute that when somebody else has a good idea, I'll dismiss it offhand. No, no, absolutely not! I'll listen carefully to what they have to say, weigh the pros and cons, and then, and ONLY THEN, dismiss it. You would be inclined to think that this means this little company of mine is never going somewhere. And this is where would be utterly wrong!
Although I did in fact dismiss everyone's ideas, I did actually write them down after the subject in question left the room. Then, after a suitable waiting period, I'd dish out the idea as one of my own. Brilliant, wouldn't you say? Well, that's what I thought, until people started to see through my little scheme and started protesting. So after a while (and numerous unexplained disappearances of various employees) I was forced to rethink my strategy. As before, I wrote down all the ideas people came to me with, promised the employee that came to me I would look into them, and stalled said employee for as long as I could. When I had a sizeable amount of ideas written down, I'd sneak into the timemachine when everybody went home and travelled back in time a few days before someone came to me with the first idea on my list. Presto! instant brilliance. So now, instead of just being feared by my staff, I am actually being revered as the brains behind the company...
...it's good to be the king!
So what have we got in store for you today? Well, as I've mentioned at the beginning of this story, we're going further back than ever before. We're going back to a time when things were simpler, slower... and when videogames had larger pixels. We're going to 1987! And what are we going to do once we get there? We'll make sure heads are going to roll... literally! It's time for muscular men in loincloths, scantily clad women with huge... eeehm... character traits and a gory fight to the death! So come with me, ladies and gentlemen, to the world of Barbarian!
Barbarian was first released in 1987 for the Commodore 64 by Palace Software. Due to its instant success, it was quickly ported to other systems of the time, with varying video and audio quality. Next to its success, Barbarian incited wave of criticism, mainly focused at the advertising campaign used to promote the game. This campaign featured a photograph of a barbarian in loincloth, brandishing a giant sword while standing over a woman that has what can only be described as 'a very nice rack'. Said rack is only being kept in check by the tiniest bikini this world has ever seen. So as you can imagine, the moralistic groups were going nuts. "Outrage, outrage!", they cried. "insulting to women", they said. But, as is often the case when protesting something that other people like, it did little to decrease the popularity of the game. If anything, it only increased it!
But all advertising to the side, what is Barbarian? Well, it's a fighting game in which you, a nameless barbarian, has to fight his way past eight (or ten on the Commodore Amiga) other broad shouldered destroyers of men in order to defeat the evil wizard Drax. This infamous evil doer has kidnapped princess Mariana, and it's your job to rescue the princess before her thong snaps... or something like that. So off you go, sword in hand, bent on the total annihilation of everyone who gets in your way. In order to save the princess, you must engage in one on one sword combat with the eight opposing barbarians and (to quote the late great Lloyd Bridges) settle things the old Navy way; First guy to die...loses! After you defeat all eight of them, it's time to face off against Drax himself. When you manage to defeat Drax, Mariana is set free and throws herself at your feet. You have done it, you are victorious!
The swordplay in Barbarian is presented in a very realistic way for its time. This was achieved by playing out the moves in front of a camera and then tracing each step of every move onto transparent sheets. This gives the attacks a very realistic feel, which would not have been possible if they tried to just imagine the moves being made. Next to the realism in the movement, Palace Software also tried to use realistic voices. To achieve this, they sampled sound clips of the 'Red Sonja' movie (which is also absolutely awesome!) and pasted them into the game. And while this is all great stuff, Barbarian just wouldn't be complete without the gratuitous violence that is the game's trademark. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing your opponent's head bounce across the floor while a fountain of blood spurts from his decapitated body. Said body just stands there for a second, deciding whether or not to accept the fact that it is dead, but eventually slowly slumps to the ground. And be honest, who among you didn't love the goblin that walks into view after your opponent's death and drags the corpse off to a destination unknown?
If you, at some point, got tired of battling the same eight barbarians over and over again, you could always invite a friend (or multiple friends if you had them...), and engage in a little two player versus action. You could even hold a tournament if you were so inclined. The player that wins, gets to keep playing. The player that loses, hands the controller over to another player. Guaranteed fun for hours on end! So yes, Barbarian featured a lot of violence. And yes, the princess' clothing (or the lack thereof) wouldn't make her a likely candidate for the 'Most Decent Person Of The Year' award. But hell, it was fun! Just loads and loads of good friendly, violent and slightly arousing fun! So my advice to all of you guys and girls out there would be to wash your loincloths and bikinis, sharpen your sword, find a big boobed bikini babe (or a mighty magnificently muscular man if that tickles your fancy) and conquer the world... Barbarian style!