The game started off as a basic sequel to Barbarian 2… following a simliar structure. This was a period when Steve Brown and Richard Leinfellner were involved in the development. Basically whilst the sequel was in development, Steve decided that the game would benefit being turned into a trilogy. So the once planned ending to number 2 was changed so Drax escaped through a mirror at the end.
The game was featuring similiar aspects to number 2, apart from the fact that the game would now scroll instead of being flick screen, and when an action sequence occurred, the game would switch to a larger fight view. Because the C64 wouldn’t have been able to handle the fight scenes, the C64 was stuck with normal sized characters.
The game as a whole was to feature much more black humour, and some stunning animation throughout. However, things seemed to be stalling at Palace a bit, and so Steve decided to move on.
Simon Birrell later took over the development, and it was turned into more of a platform based affair in its later life.
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to Martyn Carroll for passing them on, we are able to show these design sketches for the first time (Sadly they were unpublished in Retro Gamer as intended).
GTW got in touch with Simon Birrell before Steve Brown, who used to work at Palace Software and it was confirmed about the game being developed, but with the title “Super Barbarian”. A guy called Dave Chapman was apparently making all the game editors, and engines for the ST and Amiga, though it is still uncertain if he handled the C64 engine.
Simon tells GTW that he wanted the game to have more platform action, though he gave the project to Dave Chapman whom seemed to be doing a good job.
Thanks recently to Tobias Hultman, a Swedish magazine back in June 1992 mentioned Super Barbarian on the 16 bit systems, and so we get a few more details about what the game was to consist of (which we assume were part of the shift in direction for the game)…
The game content facts…
A tournament game placed in a Colloseum-like arena where the player fight against either 16 computer controlled enemies or up to 8 human players.
(*) There are several weapons to choose from: Sword, axe, mace
(*) The game also has a replay function which makes it possible to see sequences from the fights.
(*) You can see injuries on bodyparts.
A action adventure where the goal is to rescue the the good wizard’s daughter which is held captive in Drax’s tower.
(*) Solve puzzles, find secret rooms and relics.
(*) 6 levels, a forest, hell (the background for a possible third level can be seen in the Amiga b/w screenshot below, the settings for the other levels where not decided by the time the article was written)
The game was rumoured to be at a playable stage in 1991, and then Palace went bankrupt, and Titus bought them out. Where Blues Brothers was finished and released, Super Barbarian was not, and was only rumoured to be finished on the consoles. It seems to be that Titus did carry on the conversion, as the Swedish article dates mid 1992. Titus were not big C64 developers however, and they may have scrapped it as a result.
Just who did the 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?
Awesome finale to the series?… Will we ever know?…
Contributions: Jazzcat, Simon Birrell, Tobias Hultman, Martyn Carroll, Steve Brown
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 think some sort of SuperBarbarian was eventually released on a console, but that was developed in France by Titus.
I then moved to Spain and worked on virtual reality projects for a while. And that was the end of my videogame career, although my company Silicon Artists still dips an occasional toe in the water.”