No don't close the page yet! Even if you don't give a fuck about these games (and I can't blame you if you don't) there's a couple of screenshots here that'll make it worth scrolling through. The rest... perhaps not so much.
I love old school pixel animation, especially when it's of an evil pagan magician dressed like a Spartan from 300 with an oversized ribcage, turning himself into Ghost Rider the Grey to play some plasma globe basketball.
And that's disk one done with. One floppy disk for just 40 seconds of animation. Totally worth it.
box cover (mobygames link), not hand pixelled, but hey it's still a nice piece of art.
So who am I playing as then? The scimitar wielding warrior? The archer armed with 80s hair and a longbow? Or maybe even the bird; wouldn't be the first time for a Psygnosis game. Well the game's called Barbarian II so it's pretty obvious who it's going to be...
Well okay there's no music, so I'll complain about that.
By the way, I walked back through the trees to the road I was flying kicking across a few screenshots ago and tried walking up into the screen instead of down into the background this time. Took me back to the exact same place. Up or down, doesn't make any difference.
Bit of a weird stone entrance back there, seeing as there's nothing else around it but trees. Maybe it's just an archway. I guess I'll go find out, after I've raided this chest.
I soon found a dagger lying around, dramatically increasing my offensive power! Possibly! I dunno, I can't seem to even hit these slime monsters with it.
I can't even jump onto higher ledges, I need to use the stairs and getting him onto them is awkward.
I don't want to sound like I'm criticising the sprites by the way, I really do like this guy. I think he's got a lot of character. I especially like the way he sometimes bounces down staircases head-first if I slip.
There's a door over there and if it's anything like the one I just came across, it's going to be locked. So I'm going to have to find a key before going up there.
Also there's a new dagger up there to my left, and I might need it. My dagger meter over there on the left seems to be shrinking as I hit people and I don't know if that's attack power or weapon condition, but it definitely seems like something I don't want to run out of.
Fortunately they're slow and dumb, and I'm a Viking ninja. Maybe I can lure them away, then run back and get up the stairs before they catch me.
Well to be fair I survived this, got up to that higher platform, then got game over'd by falling down onto the spike a second time through my own ineptitude... but it's still a dumb bit of game design!
And that's it, no lives, continues or passwords. I was almost starting to like the game as well.I suppose I should give it one more go before turning it off, now that I know to avoid walking on the floor and going near useful items.
ANOTHER GAME OVER LATER.
I didn't really enjoy this game much, but I did kind of want to. The lack of lives, checkpoints, save points etc. drained a lot of the 'give a fuck' out of me. I'd rather not play on iron man mode if I can help it, it's not my thing. Also not being able to jump on the ledges started to get annoying. I kept falling through stairs, getting knocked down stairs, trying to jump on a ledge then falling through it... then through the stairs below it. And what's worse is I never did manage to get a screenshot of him bouncing down a staircase head first.
Okay, so this is Palace's Barbarian II: Dungeon of Drax, (aka Axe of Rage in the US), the sequel to Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior (aka Death Sword in the US). I have no idea how Psygnosis and Palace managed to end up releasing competing games with the same name twice.
mobygames link. Except for the US edition, which had this face smiling up from it instead: another mobygames link. Guess which one apparently got banned by a Canadian wholesaler for being crass and offensive*.
I've got to give them credit, these two characters really do look identical to the people on the game cover. I think I'll go with the guy though, as I wouldn't want to go adventuring without some good solid boots on. Plus his outfit seems less likely to snap if he moves or breathes in.
*The one with the face in case you were wondering.
What sort of maniacal developer puts a laughing skeleton on the insert disk screen? In 1988? It's like showing a steam train to cavemen: it's primitive to be be sure, but it'd still scare the living shit out of them! It's especially weird as this guy and his voice clip must take up so much space they're probably half the reason the game even needs a disk two. Here, have a youtube link to see it properly.
Though to be honest, fighting back is kind of boring. I can't jump over him or slip past him, so I've just got to be patient.
Of course another monster was waiting for me here and I wasn't good enough to keep him from pushing me all the way back to the first screen, then backwards into the molten lava. Which isn't too healthy for a guy with one bar of health, and no lives.
And that was that, game over.
I doubt this level is even possible without a damn good memory, luck, or a map.
But there good news is, I've found a shiny silver shield over there on the right! Might do something good, might do something awesome, won't know until I pick it up.
I'm a bit screwed now though, because I didn't realise I was able to walk through that type of gap in the background until a few screens in, so now my map's missing lots of exits.
Though something strange happened next, something I didn't see coming: the game actually restarted me back at the level 2 entrance. I don't have to replay the entire game! Not so cruel after all it seems.
I looked up about the game afterwards and found that you need to collect several items as you go (shield, potion, orb etc.) and if you don't grab them all along the way, you're fucked. I had actually managed to stumble across them all so far, but it seem easy enough to miss some of them and screw up the game, so I'm deducting points for that. I'm also deducting points for it being slow, annoying, and awkward to control.
But which is better? Well Barbarian II is far slicker and easier to control, and less likely to stunlock me in a corner or push me down a pit. But Barbarian II's checkpoints give me more motivation to keep hacking away at it. And they're about equal in the animated skull and grinning necromancer departments. To be honest I couldn't really recommend either of them as they seem a bit rubbish, but I'm the last person who'd try to talk you out of playing them anyway.
If you've got any opinions about the games, my words, the site, me using too many animated gifs, or just want to say, "Thanks for doing a good job... but you're playing the wrong games", feel free to leave a comment.