Gamechanger – Defender Of The Crown
When Trip Hawkins founded Electronic Arts in 1982, he did so with a vision that a software company should borrow from the record industry for its business model. Bob and Phyllis Jacob, on the other hand, looked at the movie and television industries, at thought they’d discovered their own model. Cinemaware was founded in 1985 by Bob and Phyllis, and it focused on delivering gaming experiences like no other. With boundary-pushing graphics, stereo sound, and movie-like plots, Cinemaware games took video games by storm. And it all started in 1986, with Defender Of The Crown.
It is 1149, and the King, a friend, has been assassinated. You, along with 3 other rivals, vie to unite the land and become king. Defender Of The Crown is a simple resource management game, like a graphically-bionic version of Dynasty, but raising gold to pay for troops and catapults, rather than food.
Surrounding this core game, are side/mini games that can bring the player some extra gold, such as Raiding your opponents, or are critically important – like bringing down castle walls with your catapult, with a limited number of rocks, when attacking land protected by a castle.
Keeping with cinematic tradition, a love story is always a bonus, such as when you rescue a lady from the dastardly Normans.
Defender Of The Crown is a pivotal title in video game history because it married movie-style storytelling with video games in a seamless and incredibly fun way. Games from Grand Theft Auto, through the recent installments of the The Elder Scrolls can trace their roots back to it.
I was never good at the Joust in DotC, and don’t remember ever winning a single match.
It is really hard to stress just how utterly shocking Defender Of The Crown was in 1986. The screenshots look simple now, but, at that time, this was the absolute pinnacle of computer graphics in a video game. Realistic lighting, animated water and fire, first-person perspective, stone with shades of grey and textures, these were all mind-blowing achievements in 1986. There was a point from 1986 through 1989 where, all an Amiga owner had to do to win a ‘best computer’ argument was to put on DotC, and the Boing and Juggler Demos… nothing could touch Defender of the Crown graphically. For comparison, look at a screenshot from another groundbreaking game – Populous – for the same Amiga computer, but from 1989!
Or even Defender of the Crown for the NES/Famicom.
Like only a handful of games before or since, Defender Of the Crown1 changed what was possible in a video game.
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