Written: 5.4.14 Acquired: 3.25.06 Status: Cart only Price: $6
By 1994 Capcom had proven itself as one of the true powerhouses on the SNES. With smash hits under their belt such as Street Fighter II, Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts and Mega Man X, you could be assured any game proudly adorning the classic yellow Capcom logo to be quality. To some it came as a very big surprise when Capcom ported their 1991 medieval beat 'em up to the SNES three years later, but most were glad that Capcom did FINAL FIGHT... medieval style!?! MAN, SIGN ME THE HELL UP!
A GOLDEN TIME WHEN SUPER NINTENDO COLLECTING RULED
In January 2006 the SNES fever hit me hard. It was a special time. The market back then was ripe for the taking; most games sold for as cheap as $5. While I acquired most games on the net, I also purchased more than a handful from someone standing right in front of me. And there *is* something cool about that. To plunk dead presidents into someone's hand, and to see them passing their game over to you. It's kind of like playing a game with buddies in the same room as opposed to online play. There's a purity to the real life exchange that can't be beat. And during my time, I've had some great deals and met some interesting cats. It was all part of the fun and magic. And one of my favorite stories was the day I ran into an old college acquaintance while out hunting for knights. Early 2006 was a golden time for SNES collecting. There was a paucity of nostalgic collectors back then; the market hadn't yet exploded. I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time
March 25, 2006 at 12:27 PM. I left my house that Saturday afternoon full of hope and optimism. Just two months prior, on January 17, 2006, I experienced a Super Nintendo resurrection for the ages. Burnt out on Saturn gaming, it was on a long University winter break that the urge to play my childhood favorites, and discover the gems that I missed back in the day, hit me so hard I no longer could deny it. But I digress. Back to March 25. The night before, Friday night March 24, I made my local rounds on Craigslist and found an ad about some guy liquidating all his old 16-bit games. I emailed him that very day and he responded by asking me to come visit his store (a 25 minute drive) on Saturday to see which SNES titles he had. He promised to give me a good deal
And so the next morning I was off on yet another trek. I remember those early days very fondly. I had just come back into all things Super Nintendo. And having a want list of HUNDREDS meant a good chance I was always going to find something. It was a peaceful spring Saturday morning. Listening to my blaring music, driving all over town to reclaim bits and pieces of my childhood...
When I arrived, I met Aaron, the guy whom I had been in email contacts with. Homeboy looked oddly familiar... I couldn't escape that feeling that I'd seen this fool somewhere else before. As I browsed his SNES offerings it suddenly hit me. I had a college class with this guy Spring 2002! In fact, we were groupmates for the final! How's that for a weird little story? It had to be destiny
He was looking at me sort of funny too. It had been four years since we seen each other. Now I remember crystal clear, I thought to myself standing there. For our final, which we had to share with the class one of our hobbies/passions (it was a rec class), I talked about my love for playing basketball. At that time my love with the game was at its peak (thanks largely to Coach Butler and 9/11). Meanwhile, Aaron shared with the class his passion for video games, which included Nintendo, Sega and as I now recall it, the Atari Jaguar
Standing there, recalling to myself who exactly this guy was, almost as if on cue, he came over and broke my train of introspective thought
"Finding everything good?"
I answered his question with a question of my own: I asked if he remembered that class we took
"Man, I knew you looked familiar. ... Steve, wasn't it? Yeah I totally remember that class... easiest A+ of my life! How the hell ya been?"
We chewed it up for a while. So random and so crazy! Turns out Aaron's dream has always been to own his own game store, and he does. He was the manager of this little store, at just 22 years young. I was happy for him. We were never best buddies in college, but we were cool, and just seeing him randomly on this day and finding out that he achieved his dream at just 22 years old, that was nice. It's always nice to run into an old face and find them doing well in the game of life
I brought these four to the counter. I was so excited to finally dig up KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND; my first time spotting a copy in the wild. Good memories of it, as well as Super Baseball 2020. Never did really play the SNES port of POWER INSTINCT, but I'd always wanted to as I was a bit of a fan of the arcade. Aaron gave me a good little deal. KOTR was price tagged at $8 but he gave it to me for $6. PI was $8 but he took $4. SB 2020 went for just a measly $1 (!!!) and I got Super Soccer Champ for 2 bucks. What a wild trip, all courtesy of my checking Craigslist the night before, *just* to see if I might come across any enticing SNES ads. Little did I know... I would run into an old face from my early college days, see that he was doing well and that life had been good to him, and get a nice little deal in the process. Driving home that Saturday afternoon, I rolled down the windows, blasted the music, and digested what had just gone down. I looked at the new games sitting on my passenger seat, smiling as old fond memories of playing these games crept back up to the surface. It was the perfect drive home. Those early hunting days... man, I'll never forget 'em. The feeling of excitement in the air... reclaiming my childhood.... running into old faces... good times
Legend says whoever extracts Excalibur would rule over the land
One day while training to be a knight, Arthur did the unthinkable
"Arthur, only the Legendary Grail can save the world from chaos"
"As one, you must find the Grail and use it to unify all of Britain"
"Enemy is strong, yet stronger still are the Knights of the Round!"
In a classic case of BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, it's...
It wasn't perfect, but Capcom delivered yet another solid product
Being able to block enemy attacks was CRITlCAL to your success
Arthur is a strong all-around fighter, and a true jack-of-all trades
When surrounded, give the Excalibur a wild swing to clear house
Where he lacks in strength, he makes up for it with blazing speed
With lightning quick strikes, Lancelot slices 'em something fierce
A lumbering brute, Percival is blessed with the strength of 10 men
In a tight spot? Then unleash Percival's savage battle axe swing
They say everything you ever needed to learn, you learned in Kindergarten. If that's true, then these knights have passed with flying colors. One of the unique things about Knights of the Round is the ability to slice treasure in multiples. That way, when playing with 2, both can reap the rewards. Cool!
And not only could you split up the treasure, but so too can you the food. Off the top of my head, I can't recall another beat 'em up that did this. It made Knights of the Round a unique 2-player affair, as never before was a beat 'em up more of a co-op effort than here
Being able to divvy up the goods made it a brilliant 2 player affair
WELCOME TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this game is the leveling up system. After reaching a set amount of points, your character will level up, earning upgrades. They will become stronger and receive little cosmetic changes as well. It adds a bit of an "RPG flavor" and it also serves as a way to refuel your health bar even mid-way through a stage, which can turn the tide in your favor. It was a scoring system that my bro Kevin and I raved about back in '94, actually, a little more than 20 (!) years ago, and one that I still appreciate to this day. There's nothing better than having 5% health remaining on your gauge, only to level up... having a new piece of armor adorned to your body and seeing your health bar rise back to 100%. It was a boost in the purest sense. As such, Knights of the Round immediately became known as the 'beat 'em up with the level up system,' and we loved it for that
Will you split up the goods, or claim it as your own? Decisions...
Leveling up just when you're about down and out is frigging sick
WHEN IN DARKEST KNIGHT
Perhaps the best item of all is this. It allows you to automatically jump to the next level up, whether you're 1 point away or 30,000. You hope to run across it when you just leveled up on your own, as that really maximizes the odds of winning. In two player games it becomes a heated contest of who gets it. Looking back, it's too bad there wasn't an option to hurt your own partner. If there was ever a beat 'em up that should allow some ahem, "friendly crossfire," it was certainly Knights of the Round. A small missed opportunity, then
Sorry, that's one item you certainly can't divvy up!
Along the way you'll find some key items, such as this red orb which will destroy all enemies on screen
It does, however, come at the cost of some scoring points
This was such a cool feature but sadly it only occurs once. You wish it would appear more than one time (level 3), but I suppose beggars can't be choosers. The mare puts you in primo position to whack, smash and bash their skulls in. If you are playing this with a friend, which is where this game truly shines, you and your buddy will have to decide who gets to ride the beast. Yeah, my brother and I used to always to discuss this, ahem, "peacefully." And by that I mean if I didn't let him mount the mare he would smack me upside my head with a pillow. Nothing like brotherly love, is there? No worries bro, I'll get you back with my best man speech
OK, so you can ride a horse *twice* in the game, but only one time outside of the Braford boss fight. It's still a shame to have it happen only two times in the entire game. Since you can't pick up weapons, grab enemies, throw them or steal their weapons, things can get a bit repetitive to say the least. The horses manage to break up the action nicely, and thus it's a shame they didn't come around more. Few things are more badass than hacking away at bad guys while atop a beastly mare
"I like long walks, horses, and killing"
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
To help you, Merlin has packed away goodies in various barrels
PROTIP: AVOID BEING THE DEADLY BEAT 'EM UP SANDWICH
Sadly for them, Percival has a penchant for being a party crasher
I'm surprised he doesn't clap and balance the pike on his nose
You'll gain armor enforcements and other nice graphical touches
It gives them more personality than your average 'cannon fodder'
The Mask Men are, predictably, quite agile and rather annoying
His buddy's trying to ambush you but the red orb kills them both
A bit tricky, they must be hit *precisely* in the middle to crumble
Nothing says ownage quite like taking a man's ride right from him
Steal Braford's gallant mare and use it against him. BRILLIANT
Level 3 lets you team up with this white mare to wreck real havoc
[UHH, yeah. That just... sounds terribly wrong. Moving on... -Ed.]
It's Scorn's cousin, the Tall Man! <3 the top tier regular bad guys
SHAKE IT OFF LIKE A MAN. Shake it off like only Percival CAN
When a madman wielding a battle axe issues a warning... LISTEN
OOF. The tiger lands on the soldier's sword. What a way to go eh
Arlon, the Silver King, is the first real tough boss you will battle
... because we're not even halfway through the game yet!
Percival: a man of honor, integrity and kindness. Offering choices
See, it's action and reaction. They leave the big man little choice
Feeling like a kid all over again, Percival CAPTURES THE FLAG
Killing off some of your good men. Angered, Percival presses on
Barbarians rush in like the mob. It's a bad day to be a barbarian...
Nightshade creates two illusions of himself that can hurt you bad
Not only do you have to contest with the phantom, but falcons too
And if a tiger can't stop Percival, what chance does a falcon have
Balbars brings a whole new meaning to the term "Hammer Time"
Indeed, it sets the mood and atmosphere of the stage rather well
Natives hide indoors as barbarians and swordsmen roam the land
"Damn, I could go for a late night cup of coffee right about now!"
Fat Men: "You wanna head straight and turn left at the escalator"
It is the obligatory one hit fodder coming at ya from each side bit
The 'Lovecraftian Samurai' from 47 Ronin would be proud of this
Capcom had this crossover long before X-Men and Street Fighter
Whoa, after a certain level up Percival decides to shave his head!
Watch your back. PROTIP: BLOCK EARLY AND BLOCK OFTEN
<3 how the flash reveals a pair of dragon statues in the backdrop
Gah, don't you hate palette swaps. Who are you, Arlon's brother?
Garibaldi uses a variety of attacks from the previous bosses faced
Oh yeah, there's no greater rush than that. Close calls are the best
Peace is restored to the land, and the Grail is back in good hands
MEET THE MEDIEVAL GEAR GANG...
Soldiers may have the smallest energy bars of any enemy I know
You can't have a good medieval game without some sorcery, no?
Wonder if the swordsmen carry big swords because... nevermind
With these names, they are Broadway material in another lifetime
BALBARS is a true BEHEMOTH. The fat men is bigotry at its best
Oh yeah let's throw in a samurai said one brilliant Capcom intern
BEST.CHOCOLATE.EVER [THAT'S GHIRARDELLI YA FOOL -Ed.]
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
For the most part, Knights of the Round had a pretty respectable word of mouth backing it. EGM gave it scores of 9, 8, 7, 7 and 7. GameFan never reviewed it, but spoke favorably of it in its preview. Super Play Magazine, who were notoriously hard on their ratings, especially of beat 'em ups, rated it a paltry 51%. They didn't like the genre a whole lot, so I pretty much disagree with the majority of their beat 'em up scores. They were excessively hard on these games and found many of the examples to be too derivative, whereas fans of beat 'em ups may view otherwise, such as yours truly. At any rate, Knights of the Round has received good feedback from retro gaming fanatics generally speaking. Regarded as a solid conversion of the 1991 arcade brawler, this medieval mash 'em up is yet just another quality Capcom SNES product
Capcom and the SNES went together like peanut butter and jelly
The arcade had a sick 3 player mode that didn't make the SNES cut. No surprise there, as there is no 3 player simultaneous beat 'em up on the SNES. It's a darn shame, but just something you accepted as a kid a long time ago. Some sound effects are missing as well, such as the stomping of Hammer Balbars. But all in all, they captured the spirit of the arcade well and it's a blast with two gladiators at the helm. The closest thing to Golden Axe on the SNES! Capcom delivers yet again 3 player mode was axed, but it's still a roaring good time with 2
I love them but Super Play were straight up HATERS of the genre
EGM, as they did more often than not, pretty much nailed it
Knights of the Round is a solid addition to the beat 'em up genre and one that SNES fans of two player games should have in their collection. It covers a lot of familiar ground that gives it an instant comfortability, from three varying fighters, special desperation moves and the typical hierarchy of enemies, with several damn TOUGH bosses. In addition to that, it also has some clever tricks up its sleeve that makes you sit up and applaud. Being able to split up the food and the money is a major plus, and something that I had never seen before in a beat 'em up. It creates for a much more compelling two player affair. Also, the ability to defend yourself and gain a split second of invulnerability adds to the strategy of the game, and elevates it from the rest of the pack. And, of course, leveling up was a badass concept that worked well Knights of the Round isn't Capcom's finest hour, but it's a fun one
But there are some flaws, too. While the graphics are good, as is the music, the sound is a bit muted and doesn't have the kind of convincing slicing and slashing that you'd hope for. There is a small bit of slowdown (though mainly at the Iron Golem part) to work through and because the Arthurian bunch come armed with their weapons, there are none to pick up along the way. It's one of the genre's classic selling points for me... being able to pick up say, a Louisville slugger, or a lead pipe, but there's obviously none of that here. Another staple is the ability to grab, pound and throw. Sadly, you can't do that here. So, this game is, strictly, a slash 'em up. It offers less choices than your average beat 'em up, since there are no weapons to pick up along the way, and no way to throw enemies. This can get a little bit dull from time to time, but overall, it's a blast playing this with a friend. Someone who has your back and you have theirs. My cousin David and I recently played through this together, and despite its imperfections, Knights of the Round is a solid beat 'em up that has some unique ideas and deserves a spot in any beat 'em up fan's Super Nintendo library