I made the bold claim that Turtles in Time was probably the best Beat ’em up you’ll ever play, and Reddit being Reddit proceeded to do what Reddit does best. Flame you for hours on end for: a) Having an opinion that differs from somebody else, and b) having not played a game that didn’t get a release in the continent you’re from.
Now I know opinions are like arseholes, in that everyone has them, but it did make me think is Knights of the Round any good, or is this just some douche on the internet smug raging?
Anyway, I bought a copy from Spain that turns out to be a dodgy PAL conversion. So with that in mind, how is Knights of the Round?
Knights of the Round is a side scrolling Beat ’em up/Hack and Slash, however, there is some depth to it, that almost makes this Dark Souls in 16bit, and yes I realise that is an annoying overused comparison, but in this example I think it true.
You get the usual swing weapon, jump, and power attack (that drains health) like in Streets of Rage II. But on top of this is a block button, where if you hold block too long and you become fatigued and are left open to counterattack. However, if you successfully block an attack you gain temporary invulnerability. This is key to beating the game, as until you git gud at blocking you’re going to have your skull crushed by bosses.
There are RPG elements thrown in too, as you gain points which level you up. While this doesn’t allow you to spend your points where you want, your character will get bigger, faster, and do more damage, as well as visiably looking more and more epic. It means the later levels don’t become a Golden Axe II slog where every enemy takes 15 hits and 2 minutes to kill In reality it makes no difference, as the enemies will still take the same amount of punishment to die, but the fact you don’t enter a slobberknocker of 32 straight punches saves the game from the inevitable Beat ’em up fatigue.
Each character has one or two special moves too, these vary in usefulness (Percival’s are defensive manuevers) but they are relatively easy to pull off if you know how to do them. They add a surprising depth,. and will make the harder difficulties more manageable.
There are three playable characters in Knights of the Round, and surprisingly they are all different enough. What is even better is that even a newb you will notice the difference straight away.
Lancelot is fast and a little weak, Arthur is balanced, and Percival is strong and slow.
Simply moving with Percival is difficult as a newb, he is lumberingly slow, Lancelot is fast. It means as you get better the different characters will be easier to use, but it also adds a depth and a strategy to gameplay that is lacking in Streets of Rage or Turtles in Time.
First 4 times I played the game I died on the first level, first 6/7 times I had to use at least one continue to get passed the first boss. This means KotR is NOT easy. As mentioned, different characters have differing stats, it means that picking the tank-like sledgehammer (Percival) is a bad idea, likewise picking Lancelot will see you struggling to hurt opponents, you really do need to start off with King Arthur, as until you get to grips with the mechanics it really is a slog.
Once you get used to the way the characters control differently, you then need to learn to block. While technically not hard, you can’t just hold block as that’ll leave you open to attack, instead you need to preempt the attack. Attacks are not overly telegraphed in a Dark Souls way, so you will need to be fairly quick in your reflexes and rely on skill, but nothing too insane.
As for the bosses, they all have a routine and a set number of attacks, what you do here is bait out the attacks, learn the routines, them go in and block/attack. Some boss attacks do damage you through the “invulnerability”, so you will need to pay attention.
Finally. the time limit on levels may seem arbitrarily high on some levels, but actually this links into the boss fight. If the timer is stupidly high art the start of a level that is your cue to block a lot on the boss. Levels are only a few minutes, so if you start with 15 minutes, you’ll certainly have more than 10 minutes vs a heavy hitting boss, so block block dodge attack.
Basically, this is 16bit Dark Souls and I love it.
Pros: Mounts aren’t useless, no broken ass jump attacks, some secret special moves
Cons: You need to git gud, intro sequence is bizarrely soundless…
Back in the day:
Described as a crude hack and slash Golden Axe clone… Knights of the Round only scored in the 70s.