Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood
|Conquests of the Longbow|
DOS cover art
Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood is a graphic adventure game designed by Christy Marx and published by Sierra On-Line in 1991. It is the second (and last) part of the Conquests series, which began with Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail. It features VGA graphics and uses Sierra's standard icon-driven interface first seen in King's Quest V.
The player assumes the role of the legendary Robin Hood in his efforts to restore King Richard I to the throne of England. To do so, he must collect enough money to pay the king's ransom while avoiding the efforts of the Sheriff of Nottingham to capture and hang him and all his men.
Conquests of the Longbow is notable for the amount of historical and cultural research and detail included in the story's setting and puzzles. The game manual lists twenty-eight volumes in Conquest's bibliography, including Robin Hood by J.C. Holt, The Outlaws of Medieval Legend by Maurice Keen, and The White Goddess by Robert Graves. The manual also includes essays by Marx outlining the history of the legend and the approximate dates at which different characters were incorporated into the Robin Hood legend, such as Friar Tuck and Marian in the 15th century. (Though the essay mentions Guy of Gisbourne, Gisbourne does not appear in the game.) Other essays cover the tree lore and early British history and video game piracy.
Most of the game takes place in a standard adventure game mode, in which the player causes an image of Robin Hood to walk between screens and interact with characters and objects by clicking on them. For navigation between screens, the game has several hot spots built into a map. There are also minigames involving archery, combat and Nine Men's Morris with adjustable difficulty.
Gameplay is divided into days, each day ending with a cutscene of Robin Hood and his men discussing the plot and the day's events. Each day involves certain actions that must be completed before advancing, though it is possible to leave vital tasks undone that make parts of the game difficult or impossible later.
Like most games of this period, Conquests relies heavily on the user's ability to read instructions and character dialogue and contains almost no voice acting. Several of the puzzles are entirely language-based. Even though Sierra was an American company, the entire game is written and punctuated using British English conventions.
The game keeps score in three ways: the number of points for puzzles solved, the amount of money collected for King Richard's ransom, and the number of Robin's outlaws who are still alive. There is one opportunity to recruit new members and several chances to get them killed.
Depending on how well the player performs, there are four possible endings. Robin Hood can be hanged for his crimes, given a pardon but no other reward, pardoned and offered a job in the king's service (but denied Maid Marian's hand), or he can be granted a noble title and married to Maid Marian.
- Robin Hood is depicted as a gallant, yellow-bearded woodsman and master of disguise. While the game introduction mentions that Robin was driven into outlawry by corrupt men, it is not established whether he is a commoner or a disinherited nobleman. He is shown as devoted to commoners, women, his king and the Virgin Mary.
- Maid Marian is living a double life as a young noblewoman of Nottingham and pagan forest priestess. Though she sees no conflict between her priestess duties and Christianity, equating the "Virgin Queen of Heaven" with the Virgin Mary, she fears being burned as a witch if she is ever caught. Her primary role in the story is as Robin Hood's love interest and his contact with the Queen Mother's network of spies and loyalists, who are also trying to raise money for King Richard's ransom. (The Queen, an unseen character, is implied to be Eleanor of Aquitaine.) Marian's priestess duties include, among other things, a one-person spiral dance.
- The Sheriff of Nottingham is a slovenly, cruel and somewhat stupid man. Loyal to Prince John, he works with the Abbot of St. Mary's and the Prior to divert ransom money away from the Queen and ensure that Richard will remain a prisoner.
- The Abbot of St. Mary's is shown as greedy and cunning. The game mentions that he forces peasants and artisans to work on his large abbey for free under threat of excommunication. He is fond of jewels, young women and drinking contests.
- Friar Tuck, a curtal friar, is the band's chaplain, treasurer and chef. Though shown as "fond of food for a holy man" himself, he also shows distaste for laziness and soft living. At one point, he had one of the abbot's monks chop wood for them so he could learn the value of honest work.
- Little John, Will Scarlet, Much the Miller's Son, and Alan-a-Dale are, along with Tuck, Robin Hood's inner circle. Will is the best woodsman. Little John is the strongest. Alan is shown as a troubadour. The game mechanics permits Robin to call John, Scarlet, Much, Alan and Tuck to discuss strategies with him before most big heists.
- The Widow lives in an isolated cottage in Sherwood Forest with her three sons, Hal, Hob and Dicken. She offers the outlaws help in the form of spun wool and advice. She is later revealed to be Marian's predecessor as forest priestess, knowledgeable about tree lore and other subjects.
- The Prior runs a monastery in the fens full of militant monks loyal to Prince John. Though they live a disciplined monastic life, every one of them was a soldier before taking vows. Their weapon of choice is the quarterstaff and they are required to have knowledge of gemstone lore.
- Fulk is King Richard's jester. Richard had sent him ahead to England, where he is captured by Prince John's men and taken to the Prior's monastery for torture.
- Lobb the Cobbler is a commoner living in Nottingham. Along with Marian, he is secretly loyal to King Richard and working with the Queen to secure his freedom.
- The Green Man is a powerful forest spirit whose trust Robin must win. He has the power to turn flesh into wood, people into oaks.
- The Bartender is a veteran of the Crusades, now running the Trip to Jerusalem pub in Nottingham.
- Matilda, the Sheriff's Wife is a plump, shrill woman, very fond of jewels. She often refers to the Sheriff as John.
- Roger, Giles and Jack are the three of the Sheriff's guards most often depicted in cutscenes.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (March 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (179): 57–62.
- "CGW Salutes The Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World. November 1992. p. 110. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- Conquests of the Longbow on Christy Marx's personal website
- Conquests of the Longbow at MobyGames
- Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood can be played for free in the browser at the Internet Archive