Knights of the Round (Arcade) Review

It was a real surprise to me to find out how close together Knights of the Round and King of Dragons were, given they were both fantasy-based Scrolling Beat ‘Em Ups made by CAPCOM, but more so given how much more polished and better Knights of the Round is. How much better? Let’s find out!

Background:

So many of these games start off in a forest…

Knights of the Round was released on November 27th 1991 in the US, and January 92 in Japan, where it was the most-successful table arcade unit of that year apparently, beating even Street Fighter II, apparently.

The game was ported to the SNES in 1994, and as you’d imagine is a slower and more limited experience, but I haven’t personally played it so I can’t tell you. I have played this Arcade version though, on both the PS2’s CAPCOM Classics Collection as well as the PS4 CAPCOM Beat ‘Em Up Bundle that I used for this review!

Gameplay:

“Fat Man” … Well, that’s certainly on-the-nose…

Gameplay is your standard attack and jump buttons, with the attack button being pressed multiple times resulting in an animated combo. However, Knights of the Round distinguishes itself from its peers by relying on a blocking mechanic, done by pressing away from the enemy and attack at the same time. If you block an attack you become invincible for a few seconds, allowing for easy counterattacks, but if you block too early then you leave yourself open to attack. At first you can get away without using it, but it soon becomes clear that they really want you to as you start fighting enemies and bosses that pretty much have to be blocked and countered in order to be defeated.

You can ride a horse at certain points, making it feel that little bit more Golden Axe-y than it already did, along with the “Press attack and jump together to do a big attack at the cost of some health” system that is standard by now. It also has an RPG levelling up system that actually changes your playable character’s appearance as you get stronger, giving them more armour, bigger weapons or… revealing more of a muscular chest while losing your hair, as you do. As with most CAPCOM Beat ‘Em Ups the combat is very impactful and satisfying to listen to, and with the levelling up system it’s a real blast to play.

As for genre clichés, it doesn’t have many due to the setting, aside from some overweight guys as pictured above, but it does oddly have ninjas and a general feudal Japan stage, despite being based on the Arthurian Legend…

Graphics and Sound:

Okay, why can’t these guys help out during the actual battle?

The graphics are good enough. Nice looking sprites, lots of people on screen alongside nice flame effects and moonlit fields. For an early 90s Arcade game it looks good.

Soundwise is fine. Fitting but not really memorable background music, sound effects are nice and impactful sounding. Again, won’t light the world on fire, but does its job.

Story:

Can’t say I saw this boss and setting coming…

Merlin gives Arthur, who just pulled Excalibur out of the stone, a mission to unite Briton and defeat the evil King Garibaldi alongside his allies Lancelot and Perceval. … and that’s just what they do! Hooray!

Thoughts Then:

Giant bronze armour is nothing compared to our levelled-up gold armour!

This is another case of not knowing anything about it and then me and my friend having a blast on the PS2 Classics Collection. It’s just a fun example of the genre, and the visual levelling up is good fun. It was a real breathe of fresh air after the plain King of Dragons, anyway.

Thoughts Now:

Oh no! He has gold armour too!!

Now? The same! A perfectly fun example of the Scrolling Beat ‘Em Up genre with one or two unique tricks up its sleeve. Nice sprites, satisfying combat and fun gameplay quirks. Recommended if you want a medieval-y beat down! … or give a medieval-y beatdown, I guess…

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