Friday, January 23, 2009

Retro Saga Part 15: Knights of the Round




I like a lot of beat ‘em ups. I love Final Fight and King of Dragons, and they stand as some of my favorite arcade games of all time, next to other arcade games like Metal Slug, Top Hunter, Shock Troopers, and of course, Captain Commando. However, I think one of my favorite arcade games of all time has to be Knights of the Round. I don’t know, but something about King Arthur, knights, and dragons are just wonderful.

The main story of Knights of the Round revolves around King Arthur who has been training to become a great knight. After pulling out the sword Excalibur, Arthur realizes his destiny to become the ruler of England. The mighty wizard Merlin then sends Arthur and two of his friends, Lancelot and Perceval to stop the evil ruler named Garibaldi. It is up to Arthur and his two allies to stop his evil reign and save England. Yeah, the real historical story is wonderful, but the arcade game story isn’t that great and ultimately forgettable, but it fits the situation and theme of the arcade game, so I won’t hold anything against it. You don’t really play an arcade game for its story.

The game play in Knights of the Round is a classic hack-and-slash beat ‘em up. You get to control one of three knights, Arthur, Lancelot, or Perceval, who all play differently. Arthur is the all-around fighter, Lancelot is faster, but weaker, and Perceval is stronger, but slower. During the game, your knight of choice gets upgrades that are either for its weapon or armor, but it’s never really shown which one will upgrade first. You have your basic strong and weak attacks, as with any beat ‘em up, but there are also super moves that you didn’t really see in a lot of beat ‘em ups. The fighting system also has a beat ‘em up system where being a defensive fighter will help you kill multiple enemies at once. I prefer to just hack and slash my way through the levels, and dodge attacks when I need to. During the game, you will be able to find gold to add to the overall high score, and food to heal your health bar. A cool thing you can do is hit the bigger chest and food, and separate them for other players to share in the bounty of the kill. It’s cool since you can play with two other people, and you will need to be working together to take down some of the more tedious boss fights.

The graphics in the game are impressive and haven’t aged as much as other beat ‘em ups, like Golden Axe or Altered Beast, that by today’s standards are bad games. Knights of the Round however, has aged well and looks nice. I also love the character designs in the game. I like all the cool armor and weapons that everyone wields. I guess I’m a sucker for this style of look for game and other games like Demon’s Soul. The music is pretty standard, but it fits the mood. At least the game isn’t quiet, since it would have just been boring to play an action game like this with no music. I also like how you can upgrade your character during and after the level, which is cool since games like Final Fight are kind of, well, normal since you can’t upgrade your character’s cool appearance and powers, unlike in Knights of the Round.

There are some things I do have against this game though. I hate the first boss because of his annoying obnoxious laugh. I also hate how they just recycle him as a moderately tougher enemy with that same obnoxious laugh. I also think that your character moves a little slowly. I don’t think there is a dash button, and it gets annoying once you get up to Phantom, who is faster than you, and it is hard to attack him. I also don’t like how there is a timer for the game. This is suppose to be an arcade game. I say you would make more money off an arcade game if you didn’t have to put in a timer. It’s just like Ghost and Goblins and Black Tiger. I say beat ‘em ups shouldn’t have timers unless there is some threat for not getting to the end in time, or something. I also hate how you can’t choose what to upgrade. It’s random and you won’t know what will be upgraded first.

Even with these minor flaws, I really like this game. I would highly recommend playing this game or just owning it. It was ported to the SNES after all. I don’t know if it was ported to the Genesis, but I think the SNES version would be a better choice. I wish they would bring this game back for at least an HD remake. They could do what they did with Ultimate Ghost and Goblins and make it 2.5D. All and all, I say just check this game out.

This game gets a n 8 out of 10

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