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First, you vanquished monsters in the dungeons.
Now lead them into battle in the fields.

You have conquered all the dungeons. No one can stand up to your might. The most powerful and aggressive of monsters flee from the mere mention of your name. You single-handedly tamed the underworld and now wish to retire.

Sadly, in your absence the overworld has fallen into disorder and chaos. Noble King Maximus had lost his Sceptre of Order, the one artifact which unites the four continents into a nation. A band of unscrupulous master criminals has stolen the Sceptre. Now, a wave of crime, terror, and anarchy sweeps across the land, threatening to destryo the civilization you call home.

King Maximus has recruited you, the hero from the dungeons, to recover the Sceptre and dispose of the arch-villains who stole it. Starting with a small army granted to you by the King, you must journey across the four continents, constantly expanding your forces, as you search for the criminals. Recruit Dragons, Trolls, Ogres, Knights, and more to aid your cause.

When you finally confront one of the villains, you must lay siege to his castle and do battle with his forces. Beware, in the overworld there are many powerful men, some even more powerful than you. Every battle you enter carries the risk of ignominious defeat and shame as well as the possibility of glory and treasure.

With the degeat of each villain, gain another piece of the puzzle which reveals where the Sceptre of Order was hidden. Take too long to solve the puzzle and watch your homeland fall into irrevocable disrepair and ruin. Return the Sceptre to King Maximus before it is too late and receive the King's Bounty.
  • Choose a gallant knight, an avenging paladin, a bloodthirsty barbarian, or a cunning sorceress to adventure with.
  • Journey across four mammoth continents, filled with castles, towns, and marauding bands of monsters, in search of the Sceptre of Order.
  • Build up the power of your character by finding powerful and potent artifacts which augment your already considerable might.
  • Recruit strange and wonderful monsters to your army. Beware, if you recruit too aggressively, the more powerful monsters will revolt against your command.

~ from the back of the PC box
Before Heroes of Might & Magic, there was King's Bounty. That name has had a bit of a resurgence of late with a couple of modern follow-ups by 1C Entertainment, but it was New World Computing's first entry in 1990 that really captured the imaginations of many. So much so that it has been remade and ported to a vast variety of systems.

For those not in the know, King's Bounty is a strategy game that sees a horse mounted avatar loyal to the King ransack everything not locked down and kill everything that moves. As either a Knight, a Paladin, a Sorceress or a Barbarian, every step pushes forward time with the main goal being to find a magical sceptre before the monarch passes away. This is done by defeating traitors and locating treasures. There are 25 in total; 17 traitors and 8 treasures and once each has been downed or discovered, a square on the puzzle map will open up detailing the exact location of the sceptre.

Fighting a battle (left) and sieging a castle (right) in the Amiga version.

While the specified targets are the same on each play through, their locations are completely randomised. For an extra hint, local towns will offer up contracts for the traitors that contain clues as to their whereabouts. The overworld covers three continents each containing so much more than towns. Castles and keeps may hold a target of one of these contracts, so a siege weapon must be bought to attack with your army.

Battles and their preparation will take up most of your time. Recruit a formidable front-line as you explore the map, be it regular combatants such as archers and knights or fantastical creatures such as fairies or ogres and then fight every band of brigand and evildoer you come across. This is done by moving each character type in your army one at a time in a chess-like fashion. Be in range of an opponent and attack them watching their numbers dwindle as you do. You can command a maximum of 5 types in your army, but the amount of each is directly related to your Leadership skill. Depending on your starting class, it will vary at the beginning but should you distribute any found treasure among the peasants, it will increase considerably. And it's very much worth doing so.

Selecting a battle spell. Looks like I have none (left - Mega Drive/Genesis).
Your targets. Find them to reveal a square in the treasure map (right - Mega Drive/Genesis).

Beyond your command and your coffers, the other major variable is magic. Only the Sorceress starts the game with this ability (though she is the weakest in leadership) while others have to seek it out for purchase. You will find a variety of spells as you explore, but in all honesty I found this mechanic to be the most lacking. You won't really need it until much later in the game where the difficulty ramps up, so you might as well start with someone who can command the biggest army. I recommend the Barbarian or Knight for new players, though in all honesty they mostly play the same.

Like many such games of its time, it began life on DOS. It's a credit to the developers that this remains one of the best ways to play it. Its graphics may have dated a little somewhat, and the bleeping sounds of the PC speaker being the only audio option does hold it back somewhat. This version had very playable ports of the Commodore 64 and Apple II, though MAME has yet to figure out writeable floppy disks for the latter. The visuals here are inferior, with large pixels and limited colours confusing the modern eye into thinking there's been a graphical glitch. At least it sounds a lot better.

Early ports warn you if a battle is imminent (left - Commodore 64).
Signs on the map give you clues, directions and maybe advice (right - PC DOS).

Personally, my preferred way to play is with its first remake on the Amiga. Coming out just a year after the DOS original in 1991, it overhauls the visuals in a subtle yet pleasing fashion. Even better is the animation, particularly in the battle scenes. The addition of mouse controls aids in its playability being a welcome option from the spread out keyboard commands. Some of the map layouts have changed slightly, moving treasure chest and caravans, but it's still the same game at its core. It was this version that marked the basis for the only console port on SEGA's Mega Drive / Genesis. Again, the changes suit the platform it is running on, with smoother movement on the map screen that no longer relies on a grid system. Enemies visible here also move about too, giving an extra level of polish. A worthy port indeed.

More curious are two variants that are not actually in English. In 1994, Japanese owners of the obscure FM Towns computer system were able to play by far the best-looking version, and if you've played enough of any other version you can play it perfectly well enough. It retains the mouse control of the Amiga version while adding handsome graphical flourishes that further endear you to the game world. I recommend you give it a shot, though the emulation through Retroarch's MAME core is disappointingly featureless - much like its Apple II implementation.

Buying troops from your King. You can pretty much wing it past the language barrier (left - FM Towns).
Sadly, this is a lot less feasible in the Russian-only unofficial sequel (right - PC DOS).

The last version I'd like to briefly comment on is an unofficial sequel developed in Ukraine. From what I can gather, King's Bounty 2 was a fanmade project from a single person named Sergei Prokofiev that does a fair amount to improve the original game. It increases the variety of characters, improves graphics a little and gives it a decidedly Slavic fantasy feel over the European fairy tale one. Unlike the Japanese FM Towns remake, King's Bounty 2 perhaps requires a little more knowledge of the language to understand as menus and mechanics have all been altered just enough you're unable to wing your way through it. If I could understand it, I'm sure it's a worthy addition.

There is a reason why the King's Bounty lineage remains strong to this day. The gameplay loop is enticing and addicting, being easily understandable even for those not usually drawn to strategy games. Had it remained a single game, I'm sure it would be remembered as an all-time classic but as it stands, Heroes of Might and Magic outshines it at every step - like every follow-up should do. If you have access to that more readily available series, I do recommend you play that instead. It does everything King's Bounty does but much better. Even so, there's no denying its progenitor is a welcome addition to anyone's collection, no matter what format you play it on.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox-X build of DOSBox to bring the PC-DOS version to modern systems and FS-UAE with WHDload for the Amiga version. The remaining consoles and microcomputers use Retroarch with the Genesis Plus GX, Vice and MAME cores to emulate the SEGA Genesis, Apple II, FM Towns & Commodore 64. X-input controllers supported for most games. Manuals for most games included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 568 Mb.  Install Size: 1.08 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ









King's Bounty is © New World Computing
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this one. I didn't know there were so many other versions and a fan made sequel. I was only familiar with the Amiga, DOS and Megadrive versions. On the other hand, The FM-Towns has alot of hidden gems.