Expand your realm. Raid castles. Lay siege to your enemies. Host glorious tournaments and become the champion. All this, and more, awaits you in Defender of the Crown.
First released in 1986 on the Amiga 500, then ported to various systems the following year, Defender of the Crown was not only Cinemaware’s debut, but also their perhaps best known title. A game that puts you in the shoes of an Anglo-Saxon lord, trying to extend his borders by means of conquest.
The game is set in medieval England. The year is 1199, a period also known as the High Middle Ages. You start off with one province, a meager amount of money and a small garrison. From there on, it’s up to you how you wish to become the most powerful man in the kingdom. Because that, and nothing else, is your goal. But to achieve it you have to conquer and occupy every single province on the map.
The map itself is divided into two main factions, the aforementioned Anglo-Saxons, and the Normans. Each of those two are further divided into three smaller factions, giving the game a total of six opponents.
Defender of the Crown Gallery (click to enlarge)
A turn represents one month and you have several options at your disposal, such as expanding your field army, attacking an adjacent province or raiding an enemy stronghold. Additionally, you can get an invitation to participate in a tournament, or have the chance to host such an event yourself. But we’ll come back to that later.
To raise your monthly income you have to conquer more territory, and that’s what your field army is for. The army itself can consist of three different types of units (soldiers, knights and catapults), each one with their own strengths and weaknesses. Should you decide to besiege an enemy castle, you have the opportunity to breach its walls by using one of your catapults.
When you are low on money you can try your luck in raiding any of the castles located on the map, which ends up in a sword fight between your men and its garrison. Another feature are random events, such as invading Danes or the abduction of a lady. Rescue her, and you might have a bride at your side.
Every once in a while one of the opposing lords will arrange a tournament, where you have the chance to earn fame or provinces, depending on your choice and, of course, your success in said tournament. Defeat your chosen opponent in jousting and the prize will be yours. Additionally, you have the opportunity to host your own, assuming you have the required funds to stage such an event.
Visually, this game is outstanding, with beautifully drawn images and a handful of nice effects, like the shadows on the walls inside a castle during sword fights. The opening tune is very well done and sets the right mood for the upcoming adventure, while the rest of the in-game music, while still good, only seems to use two of the SID’s three voices, reserving one for sound effects.
Defender of the Crown is not difficult to learn, and with its straight forward controls, easy to play. A true classic on the Commodore 64.