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Crapshoot: Conquests of the Longbow, the Robin Hood sport that did not suck



From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random imprecise games abet into the gentle. This week, Robin Hood will be in a repair. Robin Hood, Robin Hood, spies a Weetabix. Does he retreat? Lend a hand to Sherwood? No. Because or no longer it is aesthetic a ing cereal.

This day I want to chat somewhat about regarded as one of my favorite sport endings of all time. Of route, to earn there and gaze why or no longer it is so broad, we now want to take hang of a limited bit of a bound. The distance? Sherwood Woodland. The time? How about upright now, or in about a hours at the same time as you are discovering out this in Americaland? And the hero of the hunt? A person in Lincoln green tights by the determine of Robin Hood. You would possibly per chance well maintain heard of him.

Conquests of the Longbow is figuring out of as one of Sierra’s lesser-sung adventures—most of which furthermore hit the cupboards without the note “Quest” or “Larry” anyplace of their titles. It used to be the sequel to an Arthurian sport known as Conquests of Camelot, with each games written by designer Christy Marx (who has an growth of credit score, gaming and in any other case, however whose most notorious introduction is perchance Jem—the 80s pop sketch whose theme tune is even now nearly with out a doubt operating via your cranium. Um. Sorry about that.)

Every games took a equivalent formulation to their myths: meticulous ingredient, and a more paganistic version of the tales than on the entire told. In Camelot as an example, Arthur has to originate up his quest for the Holy Grail by paying tribute to each Christ and Mithras, an authorized thriller cult. Amusingly, the penalty for ignoring both used to be the equivalent, and this used to be a Sierra bound with many Sierra deaths, making this the handiest sport I am aware of where a vengeful Christ will drop a portcullis on your head for disrespecting him.

The beauty of each legends is that they are forever malleable. Neither maintain a ‘moral’ version, and adjusted radically through the years. Within the Arthurian tales, order retellings fancy Mallory fastened our take a look at of the legend, however elements fancy Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot, and even Lancelot’s existence—in earlier variations, Gawain used to be firmly The Man—had been slack additions to the legend. For my share, I repeatedly felt a limited sorry for Morganna le Fay, who started off as an ally however sooner or later morphed into regarded as one of the villains, presumably because her determine is plot, necessary cooler than that of her sister Morgeuse, which sounds fancy something a hungry man would cry at a duck-themed ceremonial dinner.

The legends are serene being written at present. Within the case of Robin Hood as an example, or no longer it is now anticipated that the Merry Men—although that time duration is increasingly more sidelined for obtrusive causes—will non-public a Saracen member. The most notorious of them is Morgan Freeman’s Azeem from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, with the BBC going for a twofer by making it a woman known as Djaq. This vogue handiest goes abet to the 1980s although, and particularly a persona known as Nasir in Robin of Sherwood.

Esteem the entire handiest myths, the origins of Robin Hood are largely lost in time. The version of the legend we all know now has limited on the entire with earlier variations, where he is been all the pieces from a yeoman to a nickname, to an early marketing marketing campaign. Amongst basically the most obtrusive changes is that first and most important he did not attach on green, however pink. One other is that in these early days, Maid Marian used to be nowhere to be considered—she entered the legend via a aspect entrance, first as every other character played all over fairs, after which as a strategy of making the tough outlaw more of a Gentleman… and, or no longer it has been suggested, to perchance scheme attention away from talk of the Merry Men being aesthetic a limited too Merry. IfyouknowwhatImean.

The current fresh version although is somewhat easy. Robin is an aristocrat who sees the score 22 situation of the bad whereas correct King Richard the Lionheart fights the Crusades and cross Prince John principles the nation with an iron fist. Stripped of his land and title, he turns his abilities with the bow to justice, robbing from the prosperous, giving to the bad, and tangling with the merciless Sheriff of Nottingham.

(Surely in spite of all the pieces, King Richard—despite having a mighty determine and proper reputation—used to be a enormous tool who couldn’t maintain given half of a dung-beetle’s buttock for England, did his handiest to manual clear of the space, and not without delay retired in France. As for Prince John… successfully, he used to be a cross king, assuredly a merciless man, and staggeringly unpopular, however or no longer it is essential that nearly all retellings of the Robin Hood legend steer clear of the bad fact that Richard later forgives him and he finally ends up being the king who, deeply reluctantly and under duress, signs the Magna Carta into law.)

Conquests of the Longbow uses this version relatively straight, its predominant deviations from the norm being that Marian is a pagan woodland priestess, and that magic exists in a pair of forms. Or no longer it is removed from an omnipresent element although, and something that few of the characters are even aware of.

The legend is made up our minds at a if truth be told order time all around the legend, with Richard captured by King Leopold of Austria and held for ransom. This in actuality came about, and led to no shortage of political danger—no longer least that whereas Richard’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, desperately tried to elevate the money, John tried slipping Leopold about a cherish chests to withhold onto him for somewhat longer. As Robin Hood, or no longer it is miles your job to foil any makes an attempt to discontinuance the ransom being paid, and make contributions to the fund wherever you are going to be ready to. For these who play the multiplayer, the amount you elevate would per chance well presumably furthermore be doubled wait sorry, spoiled sport and furthermore millennium.

I if truth be told fancy Conquests of the Longbow. Or no longer it is miles a comparatively straightforward bound in a lot of how, no longer very long or sophisticated, and with half of the puzzles consisting of wandering onto Watling Avenue and expecting a handy person to poke down it with something you are going to love, and the different half of consisting principally of having a detect in the handbook for reproduction-safety questions. Shields, hand-codes, the meanings of gemstones… or no longer it is ridiculous, and if truth be told will get dead by the tip.

What it lacks in uncooked puzzles although, it makes up for with its vogue and storytelling. Demise sequences as an example non-public no longer merely supply you the everyday Sierra “You screwed up, you idiot. Accumulate a hint ebook?” instructed, however supply a slit again-scene of the Merry Men commiserating your loss of life or merely attempting to figure out why their cherished leader would maintain completed something so dull as to stroll upright up to Nottingham Fort without bothering with a hide. Scenes fancy this again compensate for the very fact that they barely in actuality attain the relaxation in the sport, whereas serene conveying the feel that you just’re a leader of males as an different of a jealous-having a detect Batman. In short, its triumph is merely described—that it does a broad job of striking all the pieces you are going to desire in a Robin Hood bound into one, from the shooting contest to somewhat of romance, to many cases humiliating the Sheriff in his home territory,

(Enjoyable fact, there is serene a Sheriff of Nottingham. Being cross is rarely always if truth be told a prerequisite as some distance as I know. Curiously, he wasn’t repeatedly a villain and even particularly important in the myths themselves. The equivalent goes for Robin’s other nemesis, Guy of Gisbourne, who used to be first and most important an in actuality prison outlaw, with his role in the tales likely as a minimum in share to make stronger that there used to be nothing inherently worthwhile about being one. Guy is rarely always if truth be told on this one although, leathered up and brooding or no longer.)

The principle legend is broken into 13 particular person days, every with their possess key scenario. The first is merely about attending to grab the characters and slipping into Robin’s pores and skin. Or no longer it is silent, with the group squabbling gentle-heartedly about Tuck eating the entire pies… fish, deer, meat and elements of the desk… Robin practicing the archery mini-sport that can clearly be dilapidated by the tip of the week, and in general admiring the luxurious VGA scenery. It appears to be about as necessary fancy Sherwood Woodland as Bognor Regis, however serene stunning. In this version, Robin lives in a cave next to a clearing, where the Merry Men haven’t exactly outdone themselves in stealthiness by building extensive picnic tables by the river. Nottingham is a short hike away, with a scheme for rapidly teleportation, although handiest steer clear off. Different areas are likewise marked so that you just are going to be ready to head and seize a detect, however you are going to no longer be visiting them aesthetic yet.

Wandering around, Robin bumps trusty into a Widow in the woods who helps the outlaws, and whose sons are fairly warned no longer to earn themselves caught by the Sheriff—something that clearly would per chance well presumably no longer ever, ever happen in barely 5 days time. Excluding for environment up that plight level although, there is limited to achieve.

Watling Avenue is the principle aspect road leading into Nottingham, and where the outlaws starting up their ambushes on incoming travellers. This day’s fortunate winner of some Sherwood hospitality is figuring out of as one of the Sheriff’s males chasing after a peasant woman. He claims she hasn’t paid her taxes. She claims they’ve been silent three cases in a single week. He sniffs and says he doesn’t preserve tune, however figures a limited rape will repair all the pieces upright up. Clearly, a satisfying man and an ethical discredit to his employer. Congratulations!

Esteem many scenarios in the sport, this can furthermore be handled in a different of how. Robin can merely pull out his bow and shoot him. He can blow his horn to summon his males to again… although this finally ends up being pointless, as the contemptible wretch threatens to assassinate the lady in the occasion that they non-public no longer leave. He can circulation to assault the man, ensuing in her loss of life. He can merely stroll away, hoping no troubadours had been impress. He can stand and maintain a staring contest with the guard as an different of if truth be told doing the relaxation. He can furthermore attempt and seize the guard on in hand-to-hand, which… successfully… doesn’t figure out completely for the hostage.

No topic occurs, the sport continues. I am obvious there’ll be no later repercussions. For these who if truth be told would like to be tremendous, you are going to be ready to even give the lady some money to again her on her plot… although the sport doesn’t in actuality pay any attention to how necessary you give, that plot that everybody swoons at you for throwing them the equivalent of a penny. You reliable soul, you.

The handiest other element to achieve on Day 1 is observe the archery mini-sport archery. For these who turn the sport’s Arcade scenario all of the vogue down to the bottom, you non-public no longer even want to. Genuinely, you are going to be ready to’t. Robin dismisses the very thought of observe with “Sooth, I’ve no need for observe. One can not pink meat up upon perfection,” which in my take a look at makes him such a reduce that he would per chance well presumably presumably punch his face via tungsten. Otherwise although, or no longer it is miles important to appear at. Right here’s a sport about Robin Hood. What are the percentages you would per chance well presumably no longer discontinuance up in an archery contest at some level? Precisely none, that is what.

The day ends fancy all of them attain, with the group getting collectively for supper to chat in regards to the events of the day. Robin is rarely always if truth be told exactly bold on this, straight away reducing the tone by bringing up how necessary it sucks to be outlaws and going via hazard each day, sooner than attending to the bottom of his mug of ale and merely admitting that he is sick of nocking his arrow in his cave the entire time and if truth be told desires a woman. Then he collapses unconscious in a drunken stupor. Hero of the Americans!

As he sleeps although, he desires of an honest correct-searching woman in white dancing via the trees and the wind whispering “Marian”. No longer his possess wind, clearly. That handiest ever whispers “Parp.” As he approaches, she disappears, leaving in the abet of a glittering green stone—half of of an ornately carved heart. Then he wakes up and his pillow is long past. Also, he is serene maintaining it in his hand. The stone, I mean. Clearly.

Day 2 sees Robin contaminated with the Success Virus from Red Dwarf. One in every of the concerns with Conquests of the Longbow is that or no longer it is staggeringly contrived at cases, and never more so than right here. As rapidly as he leaves the cave to blow their possess horns his new emerald, ensuing in Friar Tuck turning in the 12th century equivalent of “Holy shit!” (“By my troth!”) however the others amusingly detached to their leader nearly literally pulling gem stones out of his arse, he is told that a cobbler in metropolis has news of King Richard and desires to talk with him. However, there is a have interaction. The cobbler, Lobb, will handiest talk to him if he brings a woman’s slipper as proof of his id. Where does he glean a woman’s slipper?

(For my share, I suspect Lobb hoped he’d attain to the shop and resolve one.)

That 5 minutes value of work no longer easy him past reason, Robin promptly calls it a day. Fortunately, the Success Virus is serene in attain the next morning when he decides or no longer it is miles time to earn off his arse and tear gaze Lobb. He desires a hide. However where to earn one? As ever, Watling Avenue affords.

This time, or no longer it is miles a beggar. Robin intercepts him, figuring that his rags will create for the generous hide to lag into metropolis left out. Again, he is bought a pair of choices. For starters, there is his bow. Drawing an arrow, he can portray the wretch to strip to his undershirt and quit his rags, sooner than calling his males to escort him in the different route. Alternatively, since that is no longer exactly bold, he can resolve them off him… for a quarter of a single coin… sooner than summoning the Merry Men to take hang of him for dinner at their camp, give him an additional purse of cash to compensate for cheapskate avid gamers, and equipment him out with a new outlaw outfit that positively would per chance well presumably no longer earn him murdered by any guards who happen to search out him.

Lobb turns out to be a proper servant of the Queen, as is Marian. He fills Robin in on basically the most up-to-date on the ransom, which is that Queen Eleanor is struggling to elevate the ransom, and John has diverted half of its quantity to the Abbot of the native monastery. He desires Robin to intercept it sooner than it arrives and score it, and Robin in spite of all the pieces accepts… no longer least because it would possibly per chance mean the probability to search out more of Marian.

All of her, if he performs his playing cards upright.

The next day is somewhat silent. This time, Watling Avenue coughs up a poacher. No longer fairly an growth of hobby on this come across, other than for the vogue that at the same time as you summon your males to again you to address him, Robin finally ends up brushing off them straight away on the grounds that this wouldn’t be a aesthetic combat. As if somebody is at possibility of know. One arrow and quarter of a silver penny later, his Low-sign However Moral Deed Of The Day is completed.

Which plot or no longer it is miles time to head seeking adore! Marian meets him at the sacred grove he dreamed of, and reveals that she has the 2nd half of of the gemstone heart—hers being diamond. They straight away pledge themselves to one every other on the grounds that it beats expecting OKCupid to be invented, although Marian virtuously makes it obvious that she can not presumably be the quiver for his arrow except King Richard is useful. And even give him a rapidly peck on the cheek for luck.

More practically, she assigns him to possess a mysterious scroll from the monastery in the spooky, disquieted fens that Nottingham positively, fully has. They’re no longer in actuality monks although, aesthetic a community of squaddies proper to John who are performing as his cloak-and-dagger operatives, so killing them is a public carrier in space of a rapidly-tune to the bowels of Hell. Robin appears relieved by this.

Sooner than he can head down there although, something totally unexpected occurs—the Widow’s sons are arrested by the Sheriff. This leads into the first beefy day of work, with Robin stealing an outfit and sneaking them out via a secret passage between the jail and the native abbey. There are hundreds steps to this, fancy a drinking contest with the native Abbot, and a droll sequence where Robin in a monk’s habit bumps into the Sheriff and finally ends up giving him a sarcastic blessing in entrance of his males (“Might maybe presumably maybe you earn all you deserve, and ought to serene I live to search out it.”), however nothing value going into in broad depth attach that he finally ends up with regarded as one of the Abbott’s treasures—a puzzle field containing a magic ring. Sadly, you are going to be ready to’t crack it initiate and play with it aesthetic yet. Soon although. Very, very rapidly…

(This bit furthermore incorporates by some distance the hardest share of the sport. Or no longer it is miles a round of 9 Men’s Morris to take a no longer-so-if truth be told-if truth be told-sinful gem with the energy to preserve you sober. Right here’s spectacularly tricky. Fortuitously, the AI responds the equivalent plot at any time when, so that you just are going to be ready to aesthetic glean a list of strikes that beat it.)

That handled, the next day to come takes a somewhat darker turn in the Swamp of Reproduction Safety. Uh. I mean, the Nottingham fens. The Sunless Monks attain no longer mess around, and the one who inevitably displays up on Watling Avenue to donate his dresses to the trigger and…

…you realize, now I mediate about it, Robin spends fairly an growth of time on this sport both killing/threatening/bribing folk for his or her dresses or sending them off in assorted degrees of nakedness, doesn’t he?

Anyway, Robin can merely shoot him, however the Monk invokes Allotment A, Subsection B of the Hero Code—the “What are you, chicken?” clause that implies they combat fancy males, in a rap combat. Namely, rapping every others’ skulls with quarterstaffs. Or no longer it is every other arcade sequence at the same time as you maintain got them turned on, an instant victory if no longer, and a new trade of dresses both plot. So long as you take.

On the fens, Robin will get a dart across the water in a ship suggested by a irritable monk. On the different aspect, his equivalent twin challenges him to a combat of wits… or to be more true…

I if truth be told, if truth be told abhor this roughly reproduction safety. Or no longer it is lifeless on this case since you no longer handiest want to acknowledge to the riddles, however not without delay score 9 stones to level to you sold the sport/possess a photocopier. Worse although, there is in actuality no trigger of Robin to grab the meanings of these stones, unlike the Druid Code that comes later. Or no longer it is out of context, and out of context issues are this: cross.

However anyway.

The Sunless Monks are up to spectacular portions of No Moral of their castle, including torturing a prisoner, maintaining secret files, and being led by a person with a goatee. That is the vogue you realize he is Breeze. The prisoner turns out to be a if truth be told important one although by the determine of Fulk—the Queen’s jester. In return, and pausing handiest to head take hang of the scroll that Marian needed, he is given an extremely important artefact for his carrier—The Ring That Instructions Water—and the clues needed to initiate the puzzle field containing The Ring That Instructions Fire. Sadly, no signal of The Ring That Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.

Subsequent day, or no longer it is time for… you guessed it… more reproduction safety! This time it contains a druidic code that you just handiest earn to search out for roughly two seconds, essentially essentially essentially based on assigning letters to fully different elements of the hand and tapping them. For the time being, you are going to be ready to take hang of a screenshot. On the time, you needed to be if truth be told, if truth be told rapidly at writing it down or aesthetic consume the handbook. Bid. Right here’s straight away followed by a warning of the next test—that you just are going to want to tune down a order coat of fingers at Nottingham Handsome, however are handiest told the determine of it. Where attain you earn to search out it so that you just realize what you are attempting to search out? Bet. If this used to be Fawlty Towers, it would per chance be getting a clip round the ear for being irritating and obstructive for no correct reason.

On the plus aspect, the Handsome plot or no longer it is time for the bit everybody’s been expecting!

Hope that used to be value it.

Winning the occasion, and with it, the Sheriff’s prized golden arrow, turns out to be a Pyrrhic victory nonetheless, as Robin wakes to search out guards rampaging via the woodland. Fortunately, he has the energy of Reproduction Safety Magic on his aspect, and can consume it to talk to the trees for safety and oh god, what number of handbook search for puzzles does one sport need? I attain fancy this sport, precise I attain, however or no longer it is about this level that it if truth be told begins taking the piss with a catheter. Linked to a hosepipe.

Escaping the patrols, or no longer it is over to Watling Avenue over again. This day’s visitor is what appears to be a bad tradesman who turns out to be hiding a score beefy of jewels which radically change fake—share of an attempt and scam the Sheriff’s wife. Robin liberates him of his dresses… again… and heads off to achieve the equivalent. With the again of some rouge, no person recognises him as the archer from yesterday.

No longer shriek material with merely bilking the two nobles out of their money although, he takes issues a step extra, claiming to maintain chanced on a cave beefy of jewels left in the abet of by none besides Merlin himself. The Sheriff is rapidly delighted, and is of the same opinion to each load a horse with thousands of cash to resolve its plight, and head alone into the woodland with his new buddy to manual clear of the guards discovering its plight.

This goes about as successfully for him as you are going to request.

Subsequent day although, issues earn important. Marian is captured whereas attempting to ship a message to the Queen’s messenger, and sentenced to be burned to loss of life in the Abbey. A opinion is straight away fashioned—or reasonably, quite loads of are, ranging from an all-out assault to a sneaky-sneaky infiltration. With a sneaky opinion, and a limited again from the Ring That Instructions Fire although, the day is rapidly saved and Marion rescued. Mostly. As she dies of smoke inhalation in her cherished grove, Robin realises that the energy of their heartstone gemstones can deus ex machina the shit out of this and brings her abet from the brink.

…or he doesn’t and he or she in actuality dies. Which sucks for everybody concerned.

For the closing couple of days, or no longer it is beefy steam ahead on the plight—the invention of a fake knight pretending to be in the carrier of the king, an assault on the money being brought to the Abbey, and a return to the Fens to rescue the man who can earn it to its destination. All that occurs somewhat hastily although, after which or no longer it is time for Robin to play the waiting sport. Or no longer it is miles a protracted, frosty few months… although as a minimum he does sooner or later talk any person out of their dresses for causes besides searching to position on them around metropolis…

However I talked about first and most important that what I if truth be told wished to chat about used to be the ending.

This takes space about a months after sending the ransom. Robin’s luck sooner or later runs out and he will get captured by the Sheriff, who wastes no time sending him to the gallows. However. As he stands on the steps, making ready to be a part of Manny Calavera in the land of unnecessary heroes, a miracle occurs—a clash of steel, the sound of hooves on stone. On the ideal that you just are going to be ready to factor in 2nd, the King has returned.

“Phrase came to me, Master Sheriff, that you just are going to captured the broad outlaw Robin Hood,” he publicizes. “However I heard nothing of a trial! Is this the vogue you maintain got saved the law in my absence?”

And so it begins.

“Robin Hood, you and these you call your males stand accused of brigandage…” begins the king, as Conquests of the Longbow goes abet over every single resolution you maintain got made to acknowledge to the closing query—had been you in actuality taking part in as an honourable outlaw, or aesthetic an egotistical thug. Till this level, no person (however victims) maintain even sniffed at you aesthetic levelling a bow at every scenario.

Now, it becomes relevant—as it so clearly ought to serene be.

Right here’s honest correct, honest correct create, and no longer aesthetic for its abilities. Fully about a games maintain tried to weave the aesthetic selections into something of this complexity, and even fewer maintain completed it so successfully. Bioshock 2 as an example pulled a equivalent trick of judging in the slack-sport, furthermore via the eyes of an honest observer. If that is the case, the query used to be how successfully you are going to taught your adopted daughter to address the area, and whether she’d radically change frosty and brutal or honourable and forgiving in consequence. Mass Manufacture 3… furthermore exists, and I am insanely bored of talking about that one now, so let’s aesthetic faux we did and circulation on, k?

In this case, you are going to be ready to presumably guess the endings. Within the handiest, Robin is restored and made an Earl, along with being given permission to create Marian a maid no more. Within the worst… admittedly, next to not most likely to earn without attempting… ending, issues non-public no longer tear fairly so successfully.

Test this video to search out the variation elements. And be aware, this used to be 1992. Games did maintain multiple endings at this level, however something of this diploma used to be serene a rarity. Peaceable is.

There is loads to fancy about Conquests of the Longbow past this although. Its reproduction safety is injurious, and likewise you are going to be ready to without jabber score holes in the create being repetitive and on occasion silly. It nails its environment although, with buckets of important elements and fun character touches, and above all, it does a broad job of striking you into each the sneakers and world-take a look at of history’s most cross fictional outlaw. I cherished when I first played it. I fancy it now. It would per chance well presumably no longer be Sierra’s handiest, however it deserves more credit score than it on the entire will get.

There. Scrutinize? I would per chance well presumably furthermore be tremendous.

Subsequent week, something reasonably much less nostalgic.