Arthur's Quest: Battle for the Kingdom Review

  • First Released Aug 26, 2002
  • PC

Arthur's Quest is either an action game with an exceedingly poor design, or a fast-paced, arcade-style coward simulator.

After playing the budget-priced 3D action game Arthur's Quest: Battle for the Kingdom, you can't help but get the impression that the game's developer just wasn't thinking. For instance, someone should've thought to make sure that players would try to play through most of the game's levels, or give players some kind of incentive to actually keep playing. Maybe someone should've thought to add voice-over to the game's brief and completely superfluous cutscenes or to include more character models and weapons to make the game less monotonous. And most importantly, someone should've realized that Arthur's Quest was a bad idea and decided to make a better game instead.

You could fight these monsters, but why?
You could fight these monsters, but why?

The game itself is a 3D first-person action game--it's not a first-person shooter, since you spend most of your time in Arthur's Quest fighting with close-range melee weapons. Like the melee combat found in most first-person games, fighting in Arthur's Quest is problematic because of the age-old problem of depth perception. You don't have a clear idea of exactly how close your enemies have to be in order to hit them with your sword or your mace, so you'll miss them more often than you should. This doesn't end up being that much of a problem because most enemies you fight in Arthur's Quest are rather stupid, and unlike the colorful menagerie of monsters in Serious Sam (another budget-priced action game that's actually good), they don't really exhibit different behavior patterns--they'll either try to shoot at you from a distance or, more commonly, run straight toward you. If you want, you can just move back and forth, swinging your sword repeatedly until you hit your enemies, though they'll sometimes try to surround you and hedge you in.

Fortunately, Arthur can run faster than his enemies. In fact, with the exception of a few parts in the game's 11 brief levels in which Arthur gets backed into a corner, he can simply run right past them, get to the exit, and move on to the next level. You can pass through most of the game in this way without ever having to fight, which means that Arthur's Quest is either an action game with an exceedingly poor design or a fast-paced, arcade-style coward simulator. It's possible that the developer intended Arthur's Quest to be a tribute to Midway's classic arcade game Gauntlet, in which you played as a fantasy hero trapped in a dungeon, surrounded by monsters. But in Gauntlet, when you killed monsters, you racked up points, and in that game's dungeons, you could also pick up food, treasure items, potions, and keys to unlock exits to advanced levels. Arthur's Quest has none of those things. When you kill a monster, you don't get points, you don't get experience, and you don't even get ammo. You can pick up ammo for your bow lying around the level and rescue fairies that can replenish your health or "increase your attack, defense, and damage," but apparently, no one realized that it's much easier to simply run straight for the exit. There are no experience levels for Arthur, no end-level score screen, and no running tally of how many fairies you've captured, so there's no real reason for you to do anything but run.

It doesn't help matters that Arthur's Quest looks terrible. A few of the game's monsters, like the extremely ugly and obnoxiously abundant dark dwarves and the cutlass-wielding werewolves, actually look fairly detailed, and the game runs at a brisk frame rate on a midrange machine, but most of the game's other monsters look pretty terrible, and the developer recycles monster and character models liberally. The game has both spiders and "slightly larger" spiders, and fairies and "evil" fairies (which look like regular fairies, but with green skin). The game's other character models look passable, but there are too few of them--at the beginning of the game, you'll rescue a village populated by multiple clones of the same exact man and the same exact woman. The game's environments also look ugly--without exception, they're all blocky and lack detail, the worst being the forest level, in which the "trees" consist of walls covered flatly with a crude and repetitious tree texture.

Were the developers eating these when they decided to make this game?
Were the developers eating these when they decided to make this game?

Arthur's Quest also sounds really bad. Most monsters have only one or two different sound samples, and they're usually repetitive and annoying, especially the dark dwarves, which attack you in droves while uttering the same noises over and over again. Yet for some reason, the other characters you'll speak with in the game's brief between-mission cutscenes are completely silent--they'll gesture at you mutely and helplessly while their dialogue appears at the bottom of the screen in text so small it's nearly illegible. Unfortunately for Arthur's Quest, the game's repetitive music is loud and clear in comparison, even embarrassing, since much of it features grandiose fanfares that loop endlessly while you're moving back and forth and stabbing at a dozen same-looking dark dwarves or, more realistically, while you're fleeing from your enemies like a lily-livered sissy.

It almost doesn't bear mentioning that Arthur's Quest doesn't have multiplayer, because considering all the incredible multiplayer action games that are currently available, including the comparably priced Serious Sam, playing a multiplayer game of Arthur's Quest just doesn't seem like it would be fun for anyone. Neither would trying to go through the game's relatively short 11 levels more than once--in fact, most people who enjoy playing games that are fun will probably abandon the game in disgust without even finishing it. You could take the same amount of money you'd spend on Arthur's Quest and use it to get a copy of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, or three copies of Serious Sam: The First Encounter, and in either case, you'd be making much better use of your money.

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The Good

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The Bad

Arthur's Quest: Battle for the Kingdom

First Released Aug 26, 2002
  • PC

Arthur's Quest is either an action game with an exceedingly poor design, or a fast-paced, arcade-style coward simulator.


Average Rating

116 Rating(s)


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Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Blood, Violence