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Defender of the Crown - The Atari Times

Defender of the Crown


Defender of the Crown
by Michael Pittaro

March 16, 2009
The 1980's was an inspirational time for most of us in computing. Being weaned on 8-bit computer technology and inspirational games like Mule; as computer gamers we witnessed the industry give rise to cinematic experiences only possible on the 16-bit platforms of the day. The Commodore Amiga and Atari ST ushered in a new era of gaming that pioneered an entire industry that still, to this day, continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

One such game, Defender of the Crown, paved the way for cinematics in today's biggest franchises. It offered a blend of arcade action, strategy and storytelling never before seen in computer games. Originally a tech demo for the Amiga computer, Defender of the Crown evolved into full-fledged game and was released for the Amiga platform to demonstrate its graphic and sound prowess. Unfortunately, the Amiga version was unfinished and missing most of the elements the developers had planned for the game. While beautiful, the Amiga version had limited game play, which - over a period of time - made the game shallow and uninteresting.

This all changed when Cinemaware finally decided to port Defender of the Crown to the Atari ST. The elements that were absent in the Amiga version were finally added; the castle siege scenes finally included disease pots, Greek fire (to decrease your enemy's numbers), and the tried-and-true boulders to collapse the castle's walls. Combat sequences were no longer limited to a simple scroll display showcasing your army's size; a battlefield and fighting solders were added to spice things up. The raiding sequences were also more diverse. Unlike the Amiga version, the player would see his life (or energy bar) while engaging an enemy soldier during this sequence. This removed the guess work of how close you were to slaying your enemy. Plus, the sprites during the raid were more detailed and varied in appearance unlike the Amiga version; more proof that the ST version received far more attention.

How does the Atari ST version stack up overall? Let's take a peek:

Graphics

The Atari ST (unlike the Amiga) was limited to a 16 color palette. The Atari ST version does a very competent job of recreating the graphics of this classic. The color composition is smooth, seamless, and just as shiny as its Amiga counterpart.

Sound / Music

The in-game sound effects are fairly decent but somewhat limited. They are weak and uneventful in comparison to later ST titles and it makes you sit back, scratch your head, and wonder why this was overlooked.

The music is a big disappointment; the ST is capable of far better, and the beep-bop tunes do the game little justice. You'll immediately notice it during the opening title screen and credits. It's not cringe worthy but it will make you reach for a par of earplugs.

Game play

This is where DoC really shines! There is far more to do in this version; the combat is more involving, the raid sequences are actually competent, and the storyline is more evolved.

Overall

Defender of the Crown for the Atari ST is by far the best version. It may not be as pretty as the Amiga version, but the execution is top-notch. I strongly suggest playing it! It is well worth the $10.00 it sells for on EBay.

Don't you just miss these grainy title screens?
Ah, your castle in all it's 16-color glory!
Don't forget to DUCK!
Defender of the Crown
System: Atari-ST
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Adventure
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 50%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 95%

Final Score: 90%



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