Hhhhiiiiieeeeyyyyyyaaah! Thwak! Aeeieee! Whaddya mean this isn't a karate game? Course it is, Malcolm! Palace is passing this off as the ultimate warrior game, though I have to admit it doesn't look too different to all the other Fist/Ninja games.
Anyway, to the plot. An evil sorceror by the name of Drax is after the fair and lovely Princess Mariana - a buxom young wench if the picture on the inlay card is anything to go by (and she bears an uncanny resemblance to Page 3 lovely Maria Whittaker). Drax is planning to do unspeakable nasties to the Jewelled City if he isn't allowed his wicked way! However, since this is a game, and there'd be little point in you forking out a tenner unless you reckoned you could do something. Drax has agreed that if you can beat his guards then the Princess can go free.
So off you go, wielding your broadsword, fighting your way through several levels of demonic guardians before you thing - a fight all the way finally come face to face with Drax himself. In two player ()tax himself. Mind you, before you get this far, you'll have the opportunity to practise your combat skills if you load up side one of the tape. You have the option of one or two player mode, and you'll have a chance to get to grips with the extremely complicated moves you'll need to master if you're going to get anywhere.
Side two contains the real thing - a fight all the way through to Drax. In two player mode there's a time limit of one minute to bash the living daylights out of each other, while in one player mode it's a fight to the death on every level. Once you've battled your way through to Drax, you wipe him out, the Princess is free, and, no doubt, falls gratefully into your big, butch arms...
Barbarian's an okay game, two but it does rather chug along, and it looks very similar to some of last year's Ninjary-type games. Not bad if you like this sort of thing, though to my mind grappling with the Princess Mariana of inlay card (and Page 3) fame could be a smidgin more risky than facing any of Drax's demonic guardians.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO BEAT-'EM-UPS
A SELECTION OF HISTORIC BEAT-'EM-UPS
Beat-'em-ups, eh? They've been oodles of them gracing the Speccy over the years, haven't there? So many in fact that it's easy-peasy to get your Exploding Fists mixed up with your International Karates, and end up with absolutely no idea where you are. But not any more, 'cos here's Jonathan Davies with the Your Sinclair Definitive Guide To Beat-'Em-Ups!! Hurrah! (Or should that be "Hai-arrgh!"?)
Before we start, let's get one thing straight - beat-'em-ups are not boring, and if you think they are then you've got it all wrong. On the contrary, they're jolly interesting. And, rather than all being exactly the same, they're highly individual affairs, each with their own subtleties and nuances. To assume otherwise exhibits a total ignorance of the creativity and skill that go into making what has become one of the stalwarts of the computer games industry.
So what constitutes a 'beat-'em-up'? Obviously, the beating up of one or more characters is an essential part of the gameplay. Whether this is done with one's hands or a weapon depends on the game. Purists tend to frown upon the use of shurikens, big sticks and other instruments, but it's a sad fact that in these days you're unlikely to rescue your princess without some sort of mechanical assistance. The setting is also important. The summit of Mount Yukahomo is ideal or perhaps the imperial palace of the Dragon master, but an oriental atmosphere is a definite must.
In its traditional form the beat-'em-up takes place on a single screen, with your opponents tackling you one at a time. Variations, however, include the scrolling beat-'em-up (with the bonus of tackling two or more adversaries at once) and the full scale flip-screen, multi-level version with add-on weapons, puzzles to solve and an embossment of up to three initials.
Whichever incarnation it appears in, a beat-'em-up is not to be taken lightly. A sharp eye, lightning reflexes and an elephantine memory (for learning all those moves) are needed, along with the finest joystick available.
THE FIRST EVER BEAT-'EM-UP
"That's easy," you exclaim. "Way Of The Exploding Fist!" But you'd be wrong. The first ever beat-'em-up, the father of them all, the seed from which all future offerings stemmed forth, and of which al the others are but pale imitations, was none other than Kung Fu, from a long-forgotten label called Bug-Byte.
A very primitive construction, it had all the ingredients of the real thing (including tinkly music). Reviewed in ish 11 of Your Spectrum, it scored 3/5 (times where hard). The rest, as they say, is, erm... oh, well you know.
Now we're talking. Although there isn't a single kimono or droopy moustache in sight, and swords rather than hands are used for carving people up, Barbarian is easily the most agonisingly painful game ever released. There's bloody literally everywhere, with continuous slaughter the order of the day.
Some of the most memorable moves in beat-'em-up history are featured in Barbarian. Not to be missed is the now-legendary spin-round-and-chop-his-head-off manoeuvre, but the head-butt shouldn't be overlooked, and nor should the sly poke-in-the-eye.
There are plenty of gimmicks too. Like the little bloke who comes on after each game to remove corpses and severed body parts. And the little shrug your warrior gives you when you ignore him for too long.
Yes, Barbarian is one of my faves. All it lacks is that essential oriental atmosphere. You could always go for a take-away afterwards of course.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB