Barbarian II: The Dungeon of Drax

by Paul Atkinson, Steve Brown, Lee Gibbons
Palace Software
Sinclair User Issue 81, Dec 1988   page(s) 26

Label: Palace
Author: Icon Design
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Ba ba ba ba ba Barbariaaanl Yes, folks I he's big. he's bad and he's back. Barbarian: all muscle and hair with gleaming teeth.

The Dungeons of Drax, in case you can't tell from the decidedly booby artwork that's been appearing recently, is the sequel to Barbarian, the game of Maria "Chocolate Mousse" Whittaker fame.

Palace have slightly changed the format for this outing.

Instead of the straight-forward combat situation from the first game, there's definitely more of a mappy-explory feel to this one. The story goes as follows: Drax. having seen defeat in the first game has fled to his secret dungeons beneath the wastelands, surrounding himself with troops and monsters and keeping a very low profile. In true avenging crusader style you have to track him down and destroy him.

The game takes place on three levels. There's the openair wasteland section, where you are confronted with "warmup" creatures which aren't really to threatening and you get a chance to practise your swordsmanship (you get a sword if you play Princess Mariana and an axe if you are The Barb) without too much grief Next up - once you've found your way around the maze-like area - it's the catacomb level with moderately offensive characters which, in turn, leads to the final dungeon level where Drax's top henchmen hang out.

Getting the hang of the controls is a bit of a pain As with all of the games of this ilk there's a whole cartload of joystick moves that you need to memorise. Even when you've mastered them, you may well find them to be a little unsatisfactory.

For example, to turn around you pull the stick straight down, but the low chop (a very useful move) is executed by a down move with the fire button depressed. As a result, in the heat of the batle you stand a good chance of mooning at the enemy rather than launching a useful attack simply because of a momentary slip off the fire button. Unfortunately the. um, flamboyant nature of the aboutface means that you're defenceless for at least a couple of seconds.

The bad guys are exceptionally annoying and I felt that their frustration factor wasn't equal to their "skill".

They all seem to wait until you have initiated a move, and then dodge it and attack before you can strike again. Since you can't abort a strike, this gives them a slightly unfair advantage.

The graphics are large and pretty swift on the movement front. The colours are largely unsavoury -disgusto black-onpink for level 1 - and it's advisable to ditch them unless you've got a decent monitor.

Along the way there are various objects which will boost your energy, open secret doors etc.

You do get the impression of exploration. Making a map is pretty much essential since you may be pushed onto another screen during combat and need to find a swift route to your destination, rather than faffing around retracing your steps.

Barb II is certainly playable, though I'm not dure how much the exploration element adds to its appeal. This is the sort of game you play to vent some commuter aggression, not when you want to enter into any thought process. If you've got the first volume, you should think carefully before buying this episode.

Graphics: 70%
Sound: 50%
Playability: 78%
Lastability: 70%
Overall: 69%

Summary: Enjoyable slash-fest. Limited exploratory value.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 105, Nov 1990   page(s) 60,61

Three things in life are certain, death, taxes, and sequels to big-selling games. Barbarian 2 scores in two of these three categories; it's a sequel and it's full of killing. All three categories, if you consider it particularly taxing.

You may remember Palace's original Barbarian; a combat sim featuring mightily-thewed warriors hacking each other to bits. Noted for its fine animation, violence and the size of the Princess Maraiana's boobies on the cover, it revived the tepid combat game genre.

Barbarian 2, now re-released on budget, attempts to do the same for arcade adventures. All the fighting elements are there - a variety of moves such as overhead chop, low kick and so on, but instead of being limited to a single screen, here the action takes place in a series of flip-screen mazes, and there's also an adventure element as you pick up various magical objects.

If you can make your way through fighting the dragons, snappers, mutant chickens and gorillas, you eventually get to confront the wizard Drax in his castle.

Good joystick response, decent animation and absorbing action add up to another super head-chopping challenge. A bonus for pervies is that you can choose to play the Barbarian or Princess Mariana. who reacts most peculiarly when she's jabbed in the backside by a dragon.

Graphics: 78%
Sound: 60%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 89%
Overall: 88%

Summary: Excellent arcade adventure combat action.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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