Even for a budget title Robin Hood's Quest contains little to no value.

User Rating: 1.6 | Robin Hood's Quest PS2
Sometimes an experience comes along that makes you re-assess your love of videogames. Super Mario 64, Half Life 1 and 2, Final Fantasy VII, Ocarina of Time... Ground-breaking titles that propel our love for gaming to new heights, capturing the imaginations and wallets of millions in the process. Gaming can inspire excitement, sorrow, happiness, anger and offer a pure adrenaline rush. No other mainstream pastime can offer such a sense of personal accomplishment, spending 40 hours lost within a virtual world conquering all the challenges before you and basking in the satisfaction of a well-told tale. With high-brow media outlets such as the ‘Culture Show’ in the UK nominating several titles for its ‘Great British Design Quest’ award, you get the feeling it’s an industry on the cusp of greatness, awaiting a stellar title to push it into the stratosphere of public consciousness. World of Warcraft came close, but it’s not enough. We’re almost there.

Not that you could ever tell the last 20 years of progression and development had ever occurred from glancing at an insipid game such as Robin Hood’s Quest. The diatribe above has been snapped firmly into focus during a play-through with this title, and for that I guess I should be thankful.

To begin, let’s give a little background on the experience that the game can offer:
Developed by Oxygen Interactive, Robin Hood’s Quest tasks the player with capturing back the beautiful Maid Marian from the clutches of the Evil Guy of Gisborne. Starting off in a field you must complete various tasks given to you by some of the legend’s more notable characters such as Friar Tuck, before making your way into an ‘impenetrable castle’ for the rescue (the irony isn’t lost). In order to do this you must use ‘stealth’, ‘cunning’ and ‘puzzle-solving ability’ to negotiate around the patrolling guards, and all without the use of your bow.

Let’s examine a section of that last sentence for one moment: “Without the use of your bow”…
Now, I’m no game developer, but I’d have to imagine when drawing up a list of game mechanics for a potential Robin Hood title, being able to use a bow would be pretty high up on the list of ‘things to do’. It’d be right up there with ‘Put in a jump button’ for a Mario title, or ‘Must include some guns’ for Doom. The in-game model for Robin Hood actually has a full quiver strapped to his back, and the cover artwork is based on flying arrows, so it seems even the marketing department got the hint.

So, what’s left over without some Kevin Costner-inspired action? Well, the basic premise of the gameplay revolves around several maze-like areas with one or more locked chests, the final one of which will give you a quest item that will allow progress to a further section of play. In order to unlock the chests you must stealthily creep around the guards (mostly broad daylight, in plain sight), open more chests, find keys, then go back the same way to unlock another chest, which gives you another key, repeat ad infinitum. The game has only three buttons used in play; X is ‘interact’, L1 is ‘creep’ (complete with a sound effect that’s actually louder than walking normally), and Square is ‘whistle’. It is possible that the developers intention was to aim this at kids but the actual play mechanics are so hard to judge its difficult to see how anyone of a younger age will be able to get anywhere.

All aspects of the gameplay on offer are essentially broken in a variety of ways. Indeed it would take less space to describe what’s right with the game rather than what’s not, so included below is a cross-section of the complaints apparent within the first 10-15 minutes of play:

- You cant use a bow
- Appalling texturing and virtually no lighting
- A camera that has a mind of its own, and that mind is clearly demented
- Environmental collision detection is totally incompetent
- No tutorial or any indication of what you have to do
- Loading times can be horrendous
- Guards walk at such a slow pace its frustrating to have to wait for them
- Sound effects often have no bearing on actual on-screen events
- The environment isn’t signposted and every location is essentially the same
- Animation is sparse and generally awful
- You… cant use a bow

The only genuine entertaining moments to be gleaned originate from the voice work. ‘Talent’ such as Matthew Macfayden and Richard O’Brien lend their services to the hammy dialogue, and sound as if they know just how bad the project will turn out. The localised Birmingham and Scottish accents of some of the characters are also worthy of a shout, if only for the novelty value of listening to a brummy shouting ‘I’ve lost me staff!!!” over and over.

Even for a budget title Robin Hood’s Quest contains little to no value. Save your money and buy the last movie version, at least you’ll have Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman to entertain you for a few hours that way. Or even pick up a commodore 64 and the original ‘Super Robin Hood’ which is a superior game to this in almost every sense even 20 years after its release. It even has a bow and arrow!

Note: This was originally written for StrategyInformer.com

Note: This text was originally written by myself and published over at strategyinformer.com
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