The game is set in England's Dark Ages. You are a Lord and you own a small portion of land. However, the country itself is divided. The king has been assassinated, and Normans and Saxons are accusing one another of commiting the crime. If that wasn't enough, the King's crown has also disappeared! Now someone (you, with some aid from Robin Hood) must unite the land under his rule, and discover what has happened to the crown and who killed the King.
That is the story of this legendary game. The name Defender of the Crown will certainly bring back good memories to former Amiga owners. With this game, Cinemaware was the first company (in 1986) that really utilised the vast capabilities of the Amiga, and that fact looked like a miracle to the astonished eyes of the gamers of the time. In the title screen the gold letters on the stone wall looked really golden. The knights and other people depicted on-screen looked almost alive, and the cinematic scenes looked like something taken from a fairytale book.
But the game did not appear only on the Amiga. Shortly after the Amiga version, Cinemaware made a PC version. The PC version is worse than the Amiga one in the graphics part (EGA is not a match for the 4096 color Amiga version), and it also has small differences in gameplay.
Defender of the Crown is a turn-based strategy game. The main screen of the game is a map of England, divided into provinces. The goal of the game is to conquer all of them. At the start of the game you choose a character. There are 4 characters to choose from, each with a speciality in one of the skills needed in the game. Your starting location is also affected by your choice of starting character. For beginners, I suggest choosing a character who is good at fencing. After your choice, you start with a single province under your rule, a castle, and a small number of soldiers. In each turn you have a set of actions to choose from. You can buy soldiers, knights or catapults for your army. You can also transfer your soldiers from the "home" army (the soldiers you have in your home castle) to your "campaign" army (the army you use to take provinces). There is also the option of raiding an enemy castle, or holding a tournament.
You can buy as many army reinforcements as your gold allows, and you gain more gold as you conquer more land. Moving the campaign army to a province will conquer it if it is not already owned by someone. However, if there is an enemy campaign army in that province a battle will start. The battles are pretty simple and they are depicted by simple numbers on screen (the only really bad part of the game - you never see, or command a battle). You just give orders, like "ferocious attack" or "wild retreat" and simply see what happens. Most of the time the one with the biggest army wins and stays in the territory. Battles on provinces with castles are somewhat different. At the start of the battle you must batter down the walls with your catapult (you must have at least 1 catapult in your army in order to attack castles), but after that part the battle is the same as the others (whether or not you destroyed the walls).
Raiding a castle is the "arcade" part of the game. You choose a castle to raid, and immediately the action is transferred inside the castle, where you and two of your men are fighting in the castle's courtyard and the inner hall against 3-4 enemies. The only thing you have to do is to point at an enemy with the mouse pointer and right-click as fast as you can. If you win against your enemies you will get some more gold for that game turn. It must be noted that enemies never raid your home castle. But thieves can decrease your gold reserves - this is one of the random things that can happen in any turn. More on those later.
The tournaments are jousting matches, and 99% of the time you always lose (it's the most difficult part of the game), so at the choice that you are given at the start, about jousting only for glory, or for land, it's better to always choose just fame. At least until you have more experience with Jousting. It quickly becomes the most important tool for winning the game.
Lastly, there are 2 random things that can happen in any turn. The thieves are one, and the other is the abduction of a lady. If that happens you get to choose if you will try to rescue her. The rescuing is exactly the same as going for a raid. The only difference is that you do not gain gold at the end, if you win, but instead you gain a bride ... You get married! The game also rewards you with a cinematic scene where you see your bride and your character in a somewhat romantic scene in front of a fireplace.
About the game's graphics I will not say much, since you can pretty much see it from the screenshots. The only thing I will say is that they are no rival to the Amiga version's.
I know the game sounds pretty simple, but I assure you that it is fun to play. It is easy enough, it can be learned immediately, but it's also pretty hard to finish. I especially recommend this game to younger gamers or those new to turn-based strategies.
Review by: LotharGR
Safe for all ages
Windows, Amiga versions available