Isometric Adventures in Sherwood - The Adventures of Robin Hood, Commodore Amiga

You may have seen the name in big lists of Amiga games. The Adventures of Robin Hood. It'll be some sort of Codemasters-alike platformer, you might think to yourself as you pass on by, thinking back to the likes of Super Robin Hood or Leander. But no, this is absolutely not a game in the classic Amiga library that you should be passing up on - and it's surprisingly revolutionary. 

Not strictly an Amiga game, The Adventures of Robin Hood was published by Millennium in 1991. It casts you as the eponymous heroic outlaw of legend, who has been kicked out of his castle by the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham and begins his new adventures having a bit of a mope by the castle walls. 

One thing you might have noticed about the Robin on the cover is that he seems to be a slightly odd fusion of Errol Flynn's Robin Hood in appearance and posed like Kevin Costner in the then-recently released Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie. 

Alan Rickman was so good in that, wasn't he?

The game gives you an isometric view of the world akin to Populous and a mouse-driven, open-world sandbox to play around in. Yes, that's right, Robin Hood is an open-world game. Loxley Castle and its environs are yours to explore and life will go on elsewhere on the map regardless of where you are or what you're up to. There are a couple of dozen NPCs that will come and go as they choose and are governed by 1,500 rules of behaviour that breathe surprising artificial intelligence and personality into them. Each of them, including Robin, has 32 personality attributes that are factored into their behaviour and how they will react to you and each other. And how you portray Robin is important too. Do you rob the rich merchants and give to the poor? Or is he a villain, extorting coin from all and sundry? The NPCs will remember your deeds and react accordingly.

There's so much life to this little digital world, portrayed in charming, chunky pixels. Merchants will set up their stalls and travel between the castle and points of interest. Minstrels will play and sing, entertaining the villagers who hunt and gather firewood and at the end of a busy day, enjoy a pint at the local tavern. Monks will turn up to perform burials. Norman guards, of which there are six or so, will patrol around the castle, investigating the local forests for poachers. They will also pursue and arrest law-breakers should they see any — including Robin once he is declared an outlaw.

's populated cities are often praised for being early examples of living ones, with civilians running away from you if you display a weapon in their presence and the police reacting to your actions. But honestly, Syndicate’s ‘living’ sandbox is a lot shallower and a lot less alive than Robin Hood's. There are NPCs milling about, but do they actually do anything themselves? Can you watch the world go by and be entertained by it? You can have just as much fun following NPCs around in Robin Hood and watching them go about their lives as the seasons turn. And much like the Grand Theft Auto series many years later, it's fun to just see how much chaos you can cause as you commit crimes and flee from Norman guards, desperately trying to get a bow shot off or hide in the forest. 

There are end goals, chiefly restoring your good name and taking down the Sheriff, but how you achieve that is also flexible and you don't have to pursue them. And there are quite a few secrets hidden about to uncover and I'm still finding new things in the game even after playing it many, many times. You'll also need to recruit a band of Merry Men and how you do that is a puzzle and adventure in its own right. 

The Adventures of Robin Hood is a wonderful, charming game, one deserving of more recognition than it gets for breaking ground in living worlds and artificial intelligence. And most importantly, despite some control quirks, it's still so much fun as a game to play, one I highly recommend you spend some time with.

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen... 

More Info: Lemon Amiga
Download: adf lha
Youtube: Sharka's RetroBytes

1 comment:

  1. This actually looks like a nice little game... Giving me the Populous feels.