Defender of the Crown [C64]

defender_of_the_crown_coverExpand 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.


13 thoughts on “Defender of the Crown [C64]

  1. Had the Amiga 500 version. Such as awesome game, and an all-time favorite. Not sure if this was as impactful on the C64, but I loved watching the avatar’s appearance and upkeep change depending on if you were winning or losing.

    • Can’t recall if it had any impact, but afaik the Amiga version had some missing features, like the battle screen, for instance (due to a tight release schedule, I assume). So basically, the C64 port had more content than the original Amiga release. But regardless of the system you played it on, it was indeed an awesome game (and yes, the avatar’s facial expressions were pretty amusing).

      And thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Ah, looks like an expanded version of A Knight’s Tale (the Heath Ledger movie) 😀

    Ok, fine, fine, I’m kidding. I do agree, though, on the looks. The wall shadows during the fighting scene gives it some cinematic flair. Might be a little too slow-paced for me, but I can see the appeal.

    • It’s actually not that slow paced, doesn’t take long to complete a turn. But hey, it’s a strategy game in its core, so you can’t just zap through the game. And you’ve got those action sequences, which are a nice diversion.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that the game features Sherwood Forest. You know, the place where a certain individual supposedly lived (who’s also featured in the game).

    • Ah, guess I got the impression I’d be clicking through menus a lot. Well then, the long loading times I’m reading about are too slow-paced for me. 🙂 But… if you’re throwing in some Robin of the Hood, it might be worth the look after all.

      • If there was one thing you needed as a C64 user, it was patience. And then there were those games where you constantly had to swap disks. Sometimes you ended up being patient and a DJ. 😀

  3. I remember this game well. Partly because it was a good game. Partly because the loading times between game modes were crazy-long. But mostly because it gave me fits of techno-lust for the Amiga, which I didn’t own.

      • @Bryon, thiscanvasiswhite: Good points about the loading times. Didn’t mention it because I never thought of it, to be honest. Used to have a Fast Loader cartridge, which sped things up considerably.

        Edit: Forget what I said about the cartridge. Those things normally just sped up the LOAD routine and were not capable of speeding up sequencial loading routines, iirc. It’s been some years, so forgive me if I confuse things. 😀

  4. Although my favourite Cinemaware games was Rocket Ranger on the Amiga, Defender of the Crown on the c64 holds a special place in my memories as being the first of their titles I played. Great graphics and sound, genuinely exciting and challenging gameplay and a brilliant atmosphere, I was even willing to put up with an intrusive multiload system on the cassette version to play it!

    • You’re the third person mentioning those loading times. And you said you had it on tape. Makes me wonder if Bryon and thiscanvasiswhite had it on tape, too. Oh, and the gameplay was indeed challenging. The AI kicked my buttocks all over the place on numerous occasions. 😀

  5. The cassette loading times really were painful. I seem to remember every time you entered a new segment you had to load it in separately and when you lost, you had to load the whole game again from scratch. Ouch!

    • Reading this, I’m just glad I had a disk drive. Hey, perhaps that’s why I never had those issues with long loading times. It still took a while, but was nothing compared to what you just described.

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