Defender of the Crown (Game Boy Advance) review
"Huzzah! An excellent Cinemaware medieval strategy game (based off an old Amiga game) for the Game Boy Advance. Defender of the Crown has had a long history in the gaming world, and it all started on the Commodore Amiga. Soon, it spread to many platforms (including the Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Entertainment System, DOS PC, and many more). Defender of the Crown has many mini-games along with a classic turn-based strategy game engine (Which seems to based off the board game "Risk"). Through..."
Huzzah! An excellent Cinemaware medieval strategy game (based off an old Amiga game) for the Game Boy Advance. Defender of the Crown has had a long history in the gaming world, and it all started on the Commodore Amiga. Soon, it spread to many platforms (including the Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Entertainment System, DOS PC, and many more). Defender of the Crown has many mini-games along with a classic turn-based strategy game engine (Which seems to based off the board game "Risk"). Throughout the years (and many incarnations of this game) DotC has amassed quite a following and this GBA conversion will not disappoint them or even newcomers to the game. Cinemaware has still kept the classic mini-games of jousting, catapulting, and swordfighting in excellent form.
It's the 1100's, during medieval England; unfortunately the kingdom is in total chaos. First, the good King Richard has been killed. The king's crown has been stolen and the Saxon Knights are blaming each other for stealing the crown. And, to top it all off, the Norman lords are using the chaos and discord to their advantage to try to conquer England! As one of the Saxon Knights, you must unite the kingdom, find the crown (and a wife), and drive off the Norman invaders. Luckily, you have help from your good friend Robin of Locksley (AKA Robin Hood)! It's a bit more original than most other stories out there, and even though Robin Hood is in the game, the main focus in the game is you. Although, the only problem is that the story never extends as you play the game.
Let's face it; the graphics here are probably the best the Defender of the Crown series has ever seen, especially for a strategy game. There are really no complaints here. The characters and environments are clear and easily recognizable. They all even have sort of a 3D-ish look to them and everything is very elegant-looking.
The sounds in this game are good and clear. When you are engaged in battle, you can hear the troops yells. Also, the swords hitting together in a sword fight are clear. But still, the sounds can be weak at times, and there is only one background music score on the map screen, but it still fits the mood.
The main idea of this game is strategy. First, you'll notice that you can choose from the 4 Saxon knights (Each with different strengths). When you actually enter the game, the first thing you will notice is the "Risk"-like interface, where England is cut up into several counties, and your goal is to have them all under your rule. In fact, the entire main game seems more like a board game (Such as "Risk") than a full-out strategy game.
Afterwards you can buy your army with the gold you have, and then send them on a campaign to conquer parts of England. It's not that simple though, for you have other Saxon knights and Norman lords with their own armies looking to take land for themselves. The fighting between your armies is simple, you choose a command from a list of 3 to 5 commands depending on the situation, and you see how it plays out (Also, you can change commands mid-battle). It's basically whoever has the biggest army wins the battle (Although some commands are supposed to help a small army overcome a larger army).
The main game is very tough to beat. You may find yourself with a good chunk of England under your rule at one point, then before you know it your enemies have you surrounded, and your castle is being attacked. Even on the "easy" difficulty level, this game is tough. Not only do you have your enemies to worry about, but you also have Normans and Danes who can steal your money, sabotage your catapults, or even have one of your territories revolt. These random events make the game even tougher and enhance the board game experience.
Yet, the game itself is very simple. This isn't a more involved strategy game with tons of micro-management like Koei's Romance of the Three Kingdoms games. All you can do at the main menu is Buy an army, move your campaign army, hold a tournament of your own, go to Robin Hood for help (Can only be done 3 times in a game), go raiding, or pass your turn. Also, the 4 selectable characters are far too unbalanced.
You also have many mini-games to add to the fun. There's a simple sword fighting game used when raiding a castle for gold or rescuing a Saxon damsel in distress from a Norman castle. You take on one guard per room, so it's you versus 4 or 5 guards total, and you have only one bar of life (which goes down when you are damaged). It's a little too simple though. A is to stab and B is to parry, which keeps the enemy from causing damage to you. Just like in the other versions, your enemies are pretty simple to defeat once you master a certain pattern of fighting them.
There's also jousting tournaments which you are required to attend. These tournaments contain two stages, a jousting part and a mace fighting part between you and an opponent in the event of a tie or dismount. These are also simple mini-games, in jousting all you need to do is aim for the center of your opponent to dismount him (or break his lance, giving you a point). The Mace-fighting part gives you and your opponent a Mace and shield. The whole point is to beat each other until one character falls. The controls in the first part (The actual jousting) seem to be easier to control than in past versions; most likely because of the fact that you are controlling the lance with a d-pad instead of a mouse.
Finally, there's a catapult siege mini-game that starts when you attack an enemy castle. The whole point is to make a hole in the enemy wall with boulders then send some disease and fire into the castle to kill troops inside, making your battle with the troops inside easier. It may seem like nothing more than holding the button then letting go to fire, but this is a very hard mini-game requiring you to aim correctly for the siege to succeed.
Replay Value/Longetivity: 5/10
There really isn't much to want to make you replay this game once you beat it, unless you want to play the mini-games or beat the game with other characters. There are also no multiplayer features, which is pretty stupid considering that the game would be played on separate screens and it would be tougher to see what the other players are doing. That sort of limits the replay value. It also would have been great if Cinemaware had added some secrets, but alas, there are no secrets in this game. I know it's nice to keep it close to the original game, but times have changed and it's very possible to add these things.
One great thing about this game is that it auto-saves at the beginning of every turn, so if your GBA's batteries die out or you accidentally turn it off, you will be covered.
The Bottom Line
This is a nice game for strategy fans (Especially Romance of the Three Kingdoms fans who can't wait for Koei to release the RotK GBA game into the US). In short, whether you are a newcomer or even a veteran to the DotC series, you're most likely going to like this game.
Community review by sonicthedgehog (December 08, 2004)
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