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.
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.