YS Scan
Click images to enlarge
Melbourne House £9.99 Nov 1988 YS35
Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 8/10
VFM: 7/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
7/10 Overall
Get tips for this game
Fairly easy slash 'em up based on the 16-bit hit, and nowt to do with Maria Whittaker! More addictive than it looks, too.
Marcus Berkmann
Barbarian was a big hit with ST and Amiga owners earlier this year, coming as it did from one of their fave labels, Psygnosis. And now Melbourne House (Mastertronic by any other name) has bought up the 8-bit rights and knocked out some conversions. So far so bon, ein?
    What we're looking at here is another Rastan/Vixen/Athena scrolling slice 'em up quest-to-find-the-lost-golden-pillowcase-of-Tharg, or something. You are Hegor the Barbarian, man of muscle and tiny brain, and while you've got your trusty sword, you're always in with a chance. The control system is unusual, but surprisingly easy to cope with, although I'd recommend keyboard over joystick.
    Q and W control movement left and right, as normal, while O and P move the cursor along a row of icons at the bottom, which if activated, make Hegor do something more interesting than just wandering about. There's one for fight, for instance, another for moving quickly, one for going downstairs and so on. Fighting requires timing but is otherwise straightforward. More important is standing in the right place at the right time - timing things just right is the secret of survival.
    The icons can cause problems, as the game deliberately doesn't explain what they mean. Some are obvious, others deeply obscure, and there are still one or two that I haven't worked out yet. Not that I've needed them, as far as I can make out, so who knows? There are arrows lying around as well, but I get the feeling that this is one of those games in which finding out what's going on is up to you - "part of the fun", as the inlay usually says - so I shall say no more.
    Once you've worked out the puzzle that each screen boils down to, Barbarian is quite easy, certainly to get into. I suspect that it's quite large, and so fairly tricky to complete, but there's a saminess in the graphics, no doubt caused by the Speccy's notorious limitations, that begins to pall after a while. Still, I do keep having just another go, usually between every sentence of this review. See, there was another one. My own feeling is that people who thought Karnov was an merceau de gateau will find this a dead cinch, but as I thought Karnov completely unplayable, I quite like this. I don't know about you, but I HATE shelling out a tanner for a game that I can't get beyond the first screen on - this presents no such problems. Whether it has true lasting fun-potential, though, is another matter entirely.
    Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised. The conversion is very professional and to be honest, rather better than Melbourne Houses usual standard. My only real moan is that it's not amazingly fast. Hegor doesn't exactly rush about (unless you click him into Rush About Mode, upon which he whizzes all over the place, generally getting killed in the process). Control, though, is very user-friendly, as you can press movement buttons and icon buttons at the same time - and both actually workl Now, I think there may just be time for one further game. How am I going to get past that accursed wizard...?

Ratings given by other magazines
   CRASH  8/10    Sinclair User  9/10   
Crash Review---
Info supplied by the SPOT*ON database

YS Cross-references
pBarbarian/Melbourne HouseYS32
pBarbarian (in The In Crowd)YS40
pBarbarian (in The YS Complete Guide To Beat-'em-ups)YS53
Some info from Sinclair Infoseek+SPOT*ON

Marcus Berkmann has kindly authorised this site
Reviews in other magazines:
Crash (HTML)
Sinclair User
The Games Machine
Click pages to enlarge
LOOKING FOR EX-YS WRITERS! Do you know where any are?
READERS NOTE: The original YS articles on this site were written many many years ago, and should provide no indication WHATSOEVER of the author's present writing style. Judge these people on their current work, not articles they wrote decades ago.
All original YS text is still copyright to their original owners, including BOTH publishers and authors. Permission has been granted to reproduce these articles by a few of these owners - if you see your work on here and would like it to be taken down, e-mail me and I'll do it straightaway. All other pages have similar restrictions - email me for more details.
    None of the pages on this website may be reproduced in any way, nor sold to the general public (i.e. put onto a CD-ROM) without the consent of Nick Humphries and the author of each article. If you want to include any of these articles on a site or a CD, contact me for more instructions.
Date Time