Barbarian 3 first started off as a basic sequel to Barbarian 2, following a similar structure. This was the period when both Steve Brown and Richard Leinfellner were involved in the development. Basically whilst the sequel was in development, Steve had already decided that the game would benefit being turned into a trilogy. So the once planned ending to number 2 was changed so that Drax escaped through a mirror at the end of the game to lead onto the 3rd title.
The main major change was that the 3rd game would now scroll instead of being flick screen based. When an action sequence occurred, then the game would switch to a larger and zoomed in fight view for the 16-bit editions. The C64 would keep the characters the same size throughout.
The game as a whole was to feature more dark humour, and some stunning animation throughout, following the footsteps of the previous titles. However, things seemed to be unstable at Palace, so Steve decided to move on from the Palace and the Barbarian 3 project.
Simon Birrell would take over the development in terms of the game design, and he wanted the game to have more platform action overall and made a new direction for the title. Simon confirmed that the title was also changed at this stage to “Super Barbarian”, as part of a duo of updates to two classic Palace games. The other game was “Super Cauldron”, which would see release much later.
Dave Chapman was assigned as developer – handling the game editors and engine for the ST and Amiga editions. It was uncertain though who was behind the C64 conversion, and Simon couldn’t recall – it is believed that it may have been Rob Stevens, who developed the sequel and we hope to confirm soon.
Thanks recently to Tobias Hultman, a Swedish magazine back in June 1992 mentioned Super Barbarian on the 16 bit systems at least. So we get a few more details about what the game was to consist of. The game was essentially to be split into two parts:
A tournament game placed in a Colosseum-like arena where the player fight against either 16 computer controlled enemies or up to 8 human players.
- Several weapons to choose from: Sword, axe, mace
- Replay function which makes it possible to see sequences from the fights.
- You can see injuries on body parts.
A action adventure where the goal is to rescue the good wizard’s daughter held captive in Drax’s tower.
- Solve puzzles, find secret rooms and relics.
- 6 levels, a forest, hell … other levels to be decided.
The game was rumoured to be at a playable stage by 1992, but Palace would suddenly go bankrupt and Titus would buy them out. Where Blues Brothers was finished and released, Super Barbarian was not.
Although there isn’t anything yet to show of the game on the C64 (or even the ST, Amiga and PC versions), luckily Steve still had development sketches for the game, and thanks to Martyn Carroll for passing them on, we are able to show these design sketches for the first time (Sadly they were unpublished in Retro Gamer as intended).
Also, Ross Sillifant uncovered some more screenshots and news of the 16-bit editions, which you can details of here. This gives a glimpse of possibly how the C64 version may have looked in terms of design.
Just who did the C64 conversion is still unknown, but some crucial information is uncovered on the title and there is confirmation that it was in development. Can we find anything of the code/graphics?
Contributions: Jazzcat, Simon Birrell, Tobias Hultman, Martyn Carroll, Steve Brown, Ross Sillifant
Steve Brown speaks to GTW about ‘Barbarian 3’…
“About two thirds of the way through production of Barb II, I had the (incredibly original :o) ) idea that the Barbarian games should be a trilogy. So I pulled the climactic and slightly rude Drax death sequence I had planned for the ending, came up with a new monster and let Drax escape through his magic mirror.
When Barb II and the other games I was working on were done, I came to Pete Stone (Palace Software Big Cheese) with my pitch, which was as follows:
Barbarian III: the final conflict
After the events of Barb II and Drax’s amazing escape, Arnold and Maria set off to track him down to his final retreat, the Throne Room of his Black Castle (as yet unnamed…)
Taking up from where we left them at the end of Barb II, they have to fight their way through three levels of weird and wonderful monsters, new traps and gameplay elements, before the climactic battle with Drax.
When the fourth level is reached Drax summons all the powers of Hell and changes into a huge, wobbly, tentacled Penis Monster (as featured in the game poster and cover) and only a skilled gameplayer who has completed the game successfully to this point can avoid being eaten alive (very cool sequence). If he defeats Drax, we are treated to a final anim of Arnold and Maria standing astride the vanquished Penis, their hearts joyful, their loins ablaze with desire, etc, etc…
This was to be a combination of what I considered to be the best gameplay elements I’d come up with for Barb I and Barb II, but taken to new heights of black humour and animation excellence:
The arcade adventure sections would be similar to Barb II but with scrolling backgrounds (much nicer) and loads of cool new gags/monsters/deaths.
Most exciting though, at key stages there would be combat sequences similar to Barb I, but with HUGE figures (think Tekken in 2D with swords and knives. Woohoo!). However, this was only going to be possible in the 16 bit version(s) – the 8 bit versions would have the usual smaller characters (boo!)
I did a load of designs (some of which you’ve seen) and a few nifty test animations. I’d had a sculpture produced of the Penis Monster and had initial meetings with the effects shop at Pinewood studios to discuss having a fifteen foot length of tentacle made to lift the Princess into the air for the cover shoot (remember, this was in the days before CGI). This time around I was going to use Debee Ashby rather than Maria Whittaker for the cover & poster. Not quite sure how I was going to explain that, but it seemed like a great idea at the time…
At that time, Richard Leinfellner and I were busy working from home on a 3D modelling & animation system for the Amiga, I had a few meetings with Simon, who I didn’t really know to be frank, he wasn’t part of the original gang – Pete had taken him on after I’d left the London office. Anyway, nothing much seemed to be happening, and from where I was sitting, Palace seemed to have lost its way. It’s news to me that there were plans to make it into a platform game – what a horrible thought…
Then Palace folded and I never heard anything more about Barb III. Shame, my version would’ve kicked serious ass!”
Simon Birrell speaks to GTW about ‘Barbarian 3’…
“Yes, we started “Barbarian III” under the title “Super Barbarian”. The original team had a proposal for a Barbarian III which was practically identical to Barbarian II.
I wanted to take it more in the direction of a platform game, and gave it to Dave Chapman instead. I’m not sure I made the right decision to change the format. Anyway, Dave made a great game editor, with an engine for the Amiga and ST. I can’t for the life of me remember if we did the C64 engine or not. What we had was playable.
At that point more or less simultaneously the Palace Group went bankrupt, Palace software was bought by Titus, and the whole team dispersed.
I then moved to Spain and worked on virtual reality projects for a while. And that was the end of my video game career, although my company Silicon Artists still dips an occasional toe in the water.”