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Mar. 21st, 2021

Just a little while ago, Psytronik announced a new game they published, called “Battle Kingdom”. From first glace, this game looked very familiar to me. I know I've seen this game before, but where? I looked back into some of my notes on older games I still want to write reviews for and sure enough, there it was. It was published in the disk mag “UpTime”, Volume 2 - Number 9, back in 1989 and it was the game “Tombs of Doom”, by Scott Elder.

Tombs Of Doom

In this game, your goal is to battle the classic movie monsters (Frankensteins, mummies, skeletons, werewolves, etc.) contained in nine tombs of the dungeon and collect the treasures. Only one door to a tomb is opened at a time and you must navigate through the dungeon maze to get to it without being caught by the dungeon's guardians.

The Dungeon Maze

Once inside the tomb, you must either avoid or fight the monsters inside, get the treasure and then get out. Your only weapon are hand “grenades” that you must lob at the monsters. This isn't very easy, as the walls of the tomb get in the way and it's difficult to get the right distance away to throw a successful attack. When you do happen to land a shot, the monsters are knocked out (indicated by a tombstone) but quickly revived and resume their attack. The good thing is, if you stand there and continue to lob grenades, the monsters will stay down. But, this doesn't help you at collecting the treasure and getting out of the room.

Tomb of Frankensteins

At first, I was kind of confused at how the levels of the game were designed. But, after a bit of playing I got it: Enter Tomb One and then go to Tomb Two; that's level one. After this, go do Tomb One and Tomb Two again, then move on to Tomb Three; that's level 2. Now go back and do Tomb One, Tomb Two, and Tomb Three, then on to Tomb Four; that's level three. And so on.

Each tomb contains different monsters with different attack patterns and speeds. The game does allow you to come in contact with the monsters to some extent, so briefly touching them doesn't instantly mean death. But throwing grenades is not always practical; avoidance is the best defence.

Tomb of Mummies

Game Over

Now, let's take a look at Psytronik's “Battle Kingdom”. Keep in mind, I haven't purchased the game, so I don't know all of the intricate details. I'm just going by the promotional material they've posted. But, from the in-game screenshots and description they provide, I think you'll agree that these games are fundamentally the same. Psytronik has just levelled up on the production value and the game mechanics.

According Psytronik, “Your quest is to explore the kingdom, enter buildings, dispatch the evil minions that lurk inside and then you will be rewarded either with an item of treasure, arrows to boost your ammo or a piece of the Master Sword.”

Here's a picture of the map screen:

Battle Kingdom Map Screen

And the building interior screen:

Battle Kingdom Map Screen

Now, I know that there are many games for every console or computer that are ports, clones and rip-offs of other games. The C64s library is loaded with them. There are very few truly original games being produced today. I get that. But, in this instance, I feel a little betrayed by Psytronik in this regard, simply due to the fact that I feel they're marketing this as an original work. According to Psytronik, “Game concept and design by Trevor Storey.” Really? Are you sure that wouldn't be Scott Elder? I know of a few new game releases that are based on older classics (like Chiller 2, for example). But, at least the people doing them are up front and above board and clearly state that their work is based off of someone else's ideas.

Yes, design credit should go to Trevor (the game looks great), but please give credit where credit is due. The games are just too similar to say the “original” 1989 Tombs of Doom isn't the basis for Battle Kingdom.

Could Scott (or Softdisk Inc.) have given creative rights of his game over to Psytronik? Sure, but I don't see any indication of that on their site. So, from my point of view, Battle Kingdom is just a recreation of an older game that was made by someone else. That's fine I suppose, but they seem to be marketing it as original material and charging for it; and this is what disappoints me.

In my worthless opinion, shame on Psytronik.

If you'd like to give the original Tombs of Doom a try, you can find the disk image in my Media section under C64 Games.

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blog/2021-03-21.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/08 19:08 by David