Developed by: Steve Grand, Ian Saunter
Ah, the adventures of Robin Hood, can anyone ever say there has been a great or even good game based on this character? To be honest, I don’t think this game falls into great or good category, but in my opinion it is the most fun to play and unique in its style and approach to the familiar and well used Robin Hood legend. There is something strangely appealing about it.
The story follows our hero Robin of Locksley, usurped from his castle by the evil (obviously) Sheriff of Nottingham and his Norman soldiers Robin is left homeless. Taking control of Robin you must then begin to gather the usual selection of merry men, (Friar Tuck, Little John, Will Scarlett) as well as winning the love of the fair maid Marian by laying down a few one liners. In short Robin must win back his home and popularity by being a good guy and defeating the Sheriff, and most importantly by winning over the locals to his way of thinking.
Sounds all too familiar? Good, it should. However the great thing about this release from Millennium is that the whole thing plays out like some badly written comedy, you have the usual players, the usual storyline and objective, but then it is basically up to you how the whole thing is played out. The game play can be random at best and the storyline is far from a linear experience.
The game (like populous) has a 3D like top down view, you move robin via the mouse by clicking on the terrain or using the arrow controls on the sidebar menu. The menu also contains your ‘popularity meter’ (very important for winning the game), health, weapons and special items. The graphics are pleasing to look at and characters are easily distinguishable from each other. Lucky really otherwise you might find yourself trying to chat up Little John and picking a fight with maid Marian. Weaponry comes in the form of your trusty bow, and although a little difficult to aim and slow to reach its target it’s nice and effective when it hits home. As much as it can get you out of trouble though the bow can also be a bit picky about its target, nothing worse than firing a shot at a soldier and having Friar Tuck running blindly toward it excitedly wanting to tell you the ‘good news’. Certain characters give you special objects once you have befriended them and also lend much needed support when in a tight spot.
- Friar Tuck – Gives you a habit so you can move freely amongst the village/castle. It also allows for constant jokes concerning Robin’s habit
- Will Scarlett – Gives you a horn *sigh* which you can blow on to summon help
- Little John – Provides the brawn alongside Robins, eh, brains
The dialogue is spoken in the form of speech bubbles and the language used is something of a cross between medieval (albeit clichéd) English and Bill & Ted. The map area is just the right size and although most of the action takes place around the castle and church its worth going off to see what else is about. More special items can be acquired from characters elsewhere on the map (7 in total) and as time passes the landscape changes to match the seasons which is a nice touch.
The game has several possible endings, mainly depending on how popular you are with the peasants. Donating money, fighting oppressors, being a general do-gooder wins you kudos from the populous. If you’ve met and fallen in love with Marian without managing to kill her in the process you might even get a marriage to end with. Or if you’ve generally pissed off just about everybody and nobody likes you (even if the Sheriff isn’t around to do it) the peasants will string you up faster than you can say Kevin Costner. You must win over the people, Marian, as well as your home back in order to achieve the highest accolades.
Robin Hood is a fun and colourful adventure game in more ways than one, funny and lighthearted. Movement and controls can be a bit incoherent and sometimes if you don’t move Robin for a while he will go wandering off on his own little agenda. I love the ‘free play’ feel to this game of hopping in and out of the actual storyline when it suits you; each time it’s played you get a different game play experience.