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Crom! Check Out The Unreleased 1982 Conan The Barbarian Game!

Did you know that in 1982 we almost had a Conan the Barbarian video game?

Friends, just the other day I wrote about that incredible playthrough video for the Akira prototype game intended for the Sega Genesis – today I have yet another unreleased video game to share with you. The 1982 Conan the Barbarian game has an interesting history to say the very least, I’ve read online that it actually began as King Arthur’s Adventure but when the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie was released that year and became a hit – the designers scrambled to transform the title into a tie-in with Robert E. Howard’s iconic character. The Bally Astrocade has a bit of interesting history itself – as it was originally called the Bally Home Library Computer, released in ’77 through mail order of all things. It became the Bally Professional Arcade by the time it was shipped out to buyers a year later and then, when Bally was ready to get out of the home console market, they found a buyer thanks to a contact at Montgomery Ward. After being purchased by a company attempting to produce a home console of their own – the Astrovision – in ’81 the Bally Computer System hit the market… becoming the Bally Astrocade or Astrocade the following year.

Video Provided by ScottithGames.

Now as I have already mentioned Conan the Barbarian was never officially released – in fact it appears to have become Quest for the Orb after the attempt at licensing the film failed. Apparently in 1985 there were forty cartridges released through Dave Carson Software – although as I understand it the game was not in a 100% completed state. In a 1981 Astrocade catalog where Conan the Barbarian was first advertised, the game had this description:

“Fearsome monsters give chase through a series of mazes as Conan, armed with his sword, battles them. Various levels allow you to play this adventure game with skills ranging from novice to professional. See how many monsters you can get.”

Watching the video below, it certainly seems to me that if the 1982 Conan the Barbarian game had seen release – it would have fallen firmly in the Hack and Slash genre. Interestingly enough there are stats for Conan in the game – ranging from Stamina, Strength, Defense, and even Level. Instructions I have found online state that a Player would control the swing of Conan’s sword by twisting the knob on the top of the controller. Movement was handled by the controller of course and by pressing the trigger – the mighty barbarian would switch the sword to his other hand (basically changing direction) in an attempt to slay the various monsters of the arena.

As I have mentioned on the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast episode for Conan the Barbarian I was a huge fan of the film and afterwards the Sword and Sorcery genre. I wish that the Bally Astrocade could have released the 1982 Conan the Barbarian game – I may not have owned it but I bet I could have played it at the local Montgomery Ward store in my neck of the woods.

Video and Article Image Provided by High Retro Game Lord.

3 replies on “Crom! Check Out The Unreleased 1982 Conan The Barbarian Game!”

Hi Vic, awesome review and video. I had the Bally Arcade and games for it from Bally, then Astrovision, and then finally Astrocade. When Astrocade took over I got to know a salesperson who sent me many preview literature pieces including Conan. It’s cool to see it made it to early testing at least. Astrocade really pushed the limits of the system with amazing games like Incredible Wizard, Space Fortress, and Galactic Invasion. Sad the company couldn’t keep it going. Thanks for the memories!

Thank you for checking out the article, Mike! I find it interesting that The Incredible Wizard was totally a licensed version of Wizard of Wor – not sure why the name was changed though! At the arcade we are lucky enough to have a Bally Astrocade – although it’s not out for the general public.

Back in August of 2017 I made an overview video of the “Conan the Barbarian” prototype for the Astrocade. It covers quite a bit of what you mention in your short article.

This game doesn’t play too good under emulation without the proper controller, but if you have the Astrocade controller and an adapter, then it works fine under emulation.

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