Defender of the Crown (Cinemaware, 1986/87)
I used to hang out at Angus & Robertson in the computer and wargames section after school in the late 80s. A bunch of us would pester Dave – the affable and knowledgeable guy who ran the section and had an unhealthy obsession with rotary engines and role playing games – to load up the latest and greatest on the newly released Commodore Amiga. For a fair while in 1987, the game of choice – used to convince people to part with their hard earned – was Defender of the Crown. Developer Cinemaware released a swathe of fantastic games over the late 1980s (especially the b-movie homage It Came From The Desert) and Defender of the Crown was their first.
A mix of strategy and action game you play a lord vying for territory across the England, Scotland and Wales. Sporting what they called at the time ‘cinema quality’ graphics (looking more like a badly compressed pirate DVD from Thailand nowadays) there was a great siege sequence which involved breaking down enough of the castle wall to lob in ‘disease’ and fire to weaken the inhabitants; a sword fighting ‘raid’ allowing you to capture a princess; and a terrific first-person joust. Combined with a well composed stereo soundtrack it all served to show off the best of the Amiga.
While the game was ported to other platforms – I had to make do with the Commodore 64 version – the game itself was not strong enough to hold its own without the superior graphics of the Amiga. Still, playing this today brings back a lot of memories even if, once you figure out where to fire your catapults and stab and jab, raiding castles and stealing princesses becomes far too easy.
Now with the advances of modern technology, Cinemaware lets you play it and others of their classics online on their website and you can even legally download disk images to play with the various open source emulators out there.