BARBARIAN II - The Dungeons Of Drax

Publisher : Ocean / Palace
Release date : 1990
Genre : Adventure
Players : 1
Game description...
"Join the ultimate warrior and his princess Marianna on their most perilous mission. Defeat the evil Drax in his heavily fortified lair."
Programming :
  Paul Atkinson
Graphics :
  Paul Atkinson
Music/Sounds :
  Paul Atkinson

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Download Manual
Editors review...
The original Barbarian was quite a smash back in the day, back then things were simpler and a linear and limited one-on-one beat/hack-em-up that had things like decapitations was big news. You might gather I'm not the biggest fan of the original, sure I appreciate and liked it at the time but for me it got boring and repetitive rather quickly. At least in one player mode (roll - roll - roll - hack - roll - roll - hack - roll - decapitate - repeat etc), in 2 player it came into it's own for sure.

Fast forward to the sequel and we're now a 1 player only (oh no...) BUT has now changed into an adventure explore-em-up with all the same violence moves (phew!) that the original had. On initial release on tape/disk it scored highly in most reviews, averaging above 90%. A year or two later gaming on the Amstrad, even the normal models had moved on quite a lot. So releasing it on cart untouched is not going to win anyone over, I'm surprised that Ocean even bothered seeing as they didn't even initially release it in the first place (Palace did, but they went bust so I assume Ocean secured the licence). To add insult even the title screen image is missing!

So the game plays identical but lets focus actually on what we have disregarding the re-releasing issues. Graphics are lovely and colourful, but blocky. Animation is utterly fantastic on both sprites and backgrounds (nice touches!!), and the sound effects are brilliant. No music, but there's enough atmosphere generated by your surroundings, creatures you face and the sound effects. So far so good.

How much time you give this game is how much effort you're willing to invest. If you're hoping to just pick this up and start progressing right away you'll probably be disappointed. Making a map is essential otherwise you'll end up going in circles, all you have is a compass and your memory for guidance which can often be confusing as you're always either facing left or right.

With much investment of your time and effort you may have a very rewarding game experience. Dieing is very easy so careful progress is needed, although the programmers could have given more width to the playing area as annoying loss of life can occur when you run into a screen with a pit in the middle, stopping too late and the monster behind you moving up and nudging you into the depths.

With nothing to recommend it above the tape/disk original except for the fast loading, those who never owned it previously may find some value. It was a great game on release that dated badly, but is still a worthy purchase. Just about.

  The graphics were highly rated when released a year before on tape/disk, but they haven't been updated to incorporate any of the Plus features and have already dated... however they still look marvelous in a gloriously blocky 8-bit colour explosion kind of way, the animation is brilliant.
No music as such, a nice jingle every now and then but that's it.
Fantastic spot sound effects! They're good enough to forgive and make up for lack of music.
Rather basic presentation before the game begins, but once in the game the level of detail is stunning! Animated backgrounds? Wicked! Including severed heads on spikes with the hair blowing in the wind, a volcano is bubbling away in the background spewing out billows of black smoke...
The fighting is as tight as the original Barbarian, but now you're up against various beasties that can vary in height, style and aggression. The programmer's not let this run away and the combat is nice and tight, with responsive controls. It's a massive game to explore and I found no bugs.
This time round they've combined the fighting one-on-one combat of the original game, but with a massive adventure explore-em-up - it'll be a matter of taste if this is your thing or not but I think it's a winning combo. You do need to start drawing your own map as you'll get lost easily otherwise - so it'll depend on your aversion to this or not whether you'll like the gameplay.
Again, same as the above. If you like the gameplay - you'll persevere and you'll find a long lasting massive game that you'll want to get to the end of. Casual gameplayers avoid...
See "Playability" comments - two genres joined together... does it equal success? I think with the vile and creepy environments and monsters you have to deal with give it an atmosphere untouched by other games.. so yea I think it's a winner.
AI & Challenge
Large range of baddies, the more larger and nastier change their attack patterns and move back anticipating your moves! Some of the smaller easier ones you can just defeat by repeating the same moves, but compared to most games out there the AI is pretty good going.
GX4000 Features
Absolutely nothing used - a straight port of the original tape/disk game. However its colourful enough to fool most people who didn't see the original that this was made for the console.
Summary A great game on tape/disk released a year earlier... a year later re-released exactly the same on cart for double the price? Not good times. Still, its a decent enough hack-em-up adventure.
Final Score 72%
YouTube video...

Further more...
  Amstrad Action final score : 92%
  GX4000.CO.UK game ranking : #
  Game value (boxed + instructions) : £10 - £25

Manuals and some sleeve scans by mochilote at

ROMS taken from NVG FTP Site maintained by Nich Campbell, see his other site - CPC Game Reviews

Cheats (various) taken from CPC Zone contributed by Hermol, cpc4eva, Malc and others

Inspiration generally taken from John King's PCW King GX4000 site

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