Review: Knights of the Round (SNES 1994)

Knights of the Round… When I got this game I was hoping for an OK Final Fight/Streets of Rage kind of fantasy co-op beat ’em up, but we cousins were very pleasantly surprised. I saw that this is a Capcom game so it had to be at least half decent, but after playing the game I wonder why this game is so little talked about because the quality of this game is through the roof!
Out of all the side scrolling beat em ups, we have played this one has to be one of the best if not the best. This is originally an arcade game but I have to say it has been ported very well. Awesome different characters, lots of cool moves, super tight controls, awesome environment and music.
UPDATE! NOW THE ARCADE VERSION IS AVAILABLE ON THE SWITCH ESHOP!

I have seen that the arcade version is 3-player, but sadly this port allows only 2 players, but Knights of the Round is extremely fun to play nonetheless.

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3 awesome characters with different stats

The story is pretty straight forward. You take the roles of Arthur, Percival, and Lancelot and embark on a quest to overthrow the evil king and find the holy grail.
Artur is the all-rounder with an upward slicing attack, Percival is the strong brute with a running dash attack and Lancelot is lighting fast and quick and has a jump attack.
The gameplay is similar to games I already mentioned such as Final Fight , Streets of Rage, Turtles in Time and more.
This game though has something special… Swordplay with heavy hits and quick combos, guarding that takes precision and bosses that are extremely challenging but fair. This game is not a button masher. You won’t get far doing that like in some of the other beat’em ups  because the difficulty in this one is real and mistakes will get punished!
To get through this one, you have to use guard. Guarding is pretty tricky since you cannot just hold the guard button and wait to get hit because if you hold it in for too long you get fatigued and become an easy target. If you are bad at guarding and get hit then you need to practice because getting hit seriously hurts! So you cannot button mash and cannot get away with bad guard mechanics. You need skills! Easy to play, difficult to master and THAT is something we like!

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Bring it on!

The quick combos (mash attack button) and heavy attack (Attack button + ->) are your bread and butter attacks that all characters can use. You can end each quick combo with a heavy attack. Then you have the super attack that takes down everyone around you along with some of your health. In many games (like Turtles in Time) this is never worth it but in this game getting hit hurts way more than the super attack penalty does so we always try to use it if it means avoiding getting hit.

All characters have a different jumping attack. Lancelot can slice twice in mid-air and take down those annoying falcons, Percival jumps and bombs the ground while Arthur does something in between. This is the main reason we like to play as Percival and Lancelot. Percival does the most damage and is probably the best among the three, and meanwhile, Lancelot can take care of falcons and flying/jumping annoying stuff. Lancelot’s lightning fast quick combo can also stagger a few bosses with his speed while the other two cannot. Lastly, Arthur is an all-rounder and if I were playing alone I would maybe pick him but having two very different characters like Lancelot and Percival who have different roles makes more sense and is more fun. I guess in the end all characters play a bit similar but have clear distinctions.
The enemies you face are many and diverse so you have to study each type of enemy closely and learn their patterns in order to be successful. Same can be said about the bosses, diverse, fun and challenging.

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Lancelot’s stats. Percival’s stats are mirrored from Lancelot’s while Arthur has equal points in everything.

You get 2 lives each, then the players split 10 continues (2 lives per continue). It is kind of annoying having to take continues all the time instead of just having more lives per continue but it’s not a big deal. It must have taken us over 30 runs to beat this one. Often we just reset the SNES because we knew that we had lost too many lives to continue. Like for example if we lost a life in the first stage we just started the game over. Same if we lost 2 or 3 lives in the second stage.
Still, for some odd reason, we had the time of our lives in every one of those runs! The games’ flow, fun combat, fun music and the bosses that never made us particularly frustrated kept us entertained and engaged the whole time.  The game is very difficult, but at the same time, it is not because of some broken reason. It just takes skill and persistence. That persistence pays off because clearing this game was such a glorious moment for us. It was so fun and so rewarding.

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3 Badass dudes

One fun thing about this game is that for killing and collecting treasure you get points when you get enough points you level up and go to full health. As you level up your character get more armor and bigger weapons generally making them look more badass. The timing on when you level up is also important because you want to level up at a critical time to get your health back which makes for some heart beating moments when you are hanging by a thread trying to collect those last points to level up.
So the game has a bit of an RPG element to it, and you can even ride a horse! Horse riding is not the greatest feature of this game but it makes you a lot more powerful and harder to hit, with a new set of moves. But really there are actually very few horses around to ride so it is not that important.

All this equals to a beat em’ up game that has many diverse moves, surprisingly deep combat and a cool theme that gives the game its own strong identity.

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This is Balbars, very tough boss. He is a dick and we don’t like him. This is the arcade version, note the 2 “push start” buttons

The game looks very good. The graphics are solid and the sprites and background look good. Nothing really that bugs me at least. In Co-op, we noticed minimal fps lag when 5+ enemies were on screen but it does not happen often. The music too is pretty decent. I actually I think it is very good. It sets the correct mood, makes you feel badass and heroic. Below is not the main theme of the game but it is probably my favorite tune in the game. Most probably do not agree with me though so, by all means, listen to the OST. You will like it.

Just take a look at our “let’s play” so see exactly what I mean by the greatness of this game, although you have to try it out yourself to really feel it of course

Overall this game is such a solid co-op adventure. It takes time to defeat and brings you back in with even harder difficulty levels (easy, normal, hard). The deep gameplay and great game feel along with the music and environment make you feel great while playing, even if you are getting your ass kicked. Knights of the Round is addictive and extremely fun. If you have a dedicated pal, friend (or cousin) you are in for a sweet ride. This is one of our favorites.

Gameplay: 9,5
Visuals: 9
Lasting appeal: 9,5
Music: 9
Is it fun?: 9,5 (sort of wanted to put in a 10, but i guess the game is not 100% perfect)

Overall: 9,5 a masterpiece!

13 thoughts on “Review: Knights of the Round (SNES 1994)”

  1. This game is a masterpiece-of-shit. Maybe not on the arcade, but the SNES have stiff controls and odd hitboxes, with no time to block; There’s no particular timing. This game blows. It heralds the singular, button mashing, quarter-eating difficulty, that makes me want to yank my hair out. Overrated and I think your review is illconcieved

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    1. You are wrong, it takes time to get good in this game and it pays off in fun.
      The controls are fine, the hitboxes are not that odd and you just have to be smart about blocking. It’s not supposed to be easy.
      You seem to be button mashing, that’s why you keep dying.

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      1. No I am not wrong. It’s not about “getting good”, but a question of its aged design flaws. ‘Hit boxes are not that odd’? And you tell me I am wrong? It’s a 1 dimensional point, of approach; Can’t go too high, or too low. It’s kinda tough to block with weird hitboxes and choppy animations to boot. I dont have an expectation of “easy” over a matter of practicality with adjusting the game appropriately. But they got the game as close to the arcade experience, as possible, which cuts fluidity, and enemy variety, just for the sake of visuals. It is a button masher, you have to, in order to follow-up with combos, and from getting overwhelmed. The stiff controls make lining up with enemy a chore. You either: Swing, block, Super, or jump,(except Percival sprint) that’s it. Any momentum of jumping is a pain to align with the enemy, and air attacks are sluggish and punishing.

        This game aged poorly. Perhaps there was a time where I could be sitting around, and playing it for hours on end, before returning it to the rental store. No replay value, just a straightforward, “continue?” Fest.

        You want a superior beat’emup? Try “The Ninja Warriors.” Exemplary of a well-aged beat’em-up.

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  2. Your critiques of the game might as well be a critique on the whole genre. Streets of Rage 2, Turtles in Time and Final Fight have the same “problems”. The game you are recommending is a totally different experience so I can tell you just don’t like the classic beat em ups.
    It’s about getting good enough to beat the Super Nintendo version in 9 credits. You have to know when you can commit to a combo, when you need to reposition so you won’t get surrounded and study how the enemies behave. If you play like this, with limited continues there are stakes involved and you can’t just button mash. If you do, you lose.
    it is super rewarding to beat this game after many tries of trial, error and honing your skills.
    I’m not even comparing these games to the arcade originals, that also is a different experience, with unlimited continues so you might as well button mash. If you play like that the game is boring of course.
    This should be obvious but you also need to play this game in co-op. Like all games and all beat em ups they are for fun with a friend.

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    1. Being “good” might be part of the experience, but it isn’t the whole experience. The difference with “Turtles in time” is that it has a smoother experience, and has different aspects to the game, not just simply mashing the button, they have stuff ranging from: Surfing to throwing enemies at Shredder on the screen; Clever things to get around the monotony, and the jumping mechanics aren’t doodoo. It’s responsiveness and hitbox are a tad better too.

      Final Fight had better moves and various pickups that somewhat change that monotony too. “Streets of rage 2” has a wider range of abilites and better mobility, not stifled with awkward movement.

      Relying on credits to “get good”, by virtue: doesn’t sound like a good experience for any game in practice, unless we are talking about a “true” arcade experience, where Game devs relied on the difficulty to get more revenue.

      Controls, controls, controls, are everything in a beat’em-up, and by todays standards, looking back: The game aged like milk. The movement is very 4-directional, as diagonals are very limited. So when you gotta engage, you gotta be DEAD-ON, to hit anything. I understand about committing and disengaging, but since the controls are so clunky, and the animations are so choppy, it just gets ugly to look at, with repeating the same formula, over and over. It suffers from a side problem: Dull repetition.

      You basically got 1 attack, and 1 special. It looks ok, and the music is at least great, but it ends right there, with me. Granting 9 credits off the bat just sends clunky design signals, with the expectation of dying, and it makes it worse with what the limitation of the game offers. There’s no style.

      The arcade experience is meant to eat quarters, but there’s a caveat in most of them: Smooth framerates and animation, it has the hardware to perform, and plays how it was originally intended. So I understand the difficulty with Arcades themselves. SNES was littered with watered-down versions of arcade ports, that they lazily decided not to improve(Turtles in Time is one of the few exceptions).

      “The Ninja Warriors” is a classic beat’em up, and the original arcade version(1st game) released well before Knights. The heck you talking about? The SNES version gives one of the best experiences, one could get in a beat’em up, except there’s 1 problem with it: No Co-Op. It fits the very defintion of great beat’em ups(most folks out there agree), and doesn’t make you rely on “credits” to keep going. There’s actually secret moves to learn in it, and combos that aren’t sluggish, and the animations are smooth as butter.

      “Super Double Dragon” is another great one, or even BattleToads on SNES. There are some really great ones, that are more genuinely more difficult than Knights, without the clunkyness it offers, and giving 9 credits by default.

      Speaking of Co-Op: Good luck finding people who remember this, to play with you, as most folks dont even play these games anymore, and then I’d have to watch them die repeatedly, and most of them just want to do something else… I had too many folks just saying, “Ehhh.. This game… nah”.

      I think KOTR is overrated and would give this game no higher than a 6.5, it’s bland when considering other options out there. I still own my cartridge, only because it is worth more than what I think it’s worth…

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      1. First of all, you need better friends. No Co-op means I don’t even play the game. Beat em ups are not meant to be played alone.
        In Ninja Warriors you only move in 2 directions it is a totally different experience compared to the Capcom/Konami beat em ups. It’s a fine game don’t get me wrong but I would never compare them.
        Knights of the Round is a weapons based beat em up so grabbing and throwing would not make sense. Blocking to get invul is essential to get down if you want to beat the game and it’s a much more impactful and engaging mechanic than throwing ninjas at Shredder for example.
        I think the controls are fine so I guess I can’t say anything to change your mind. The 3 characters have 3 different aerial attack. Lancelot is good at taking down birds while Percival’s is better at crowd control. They might be situational but they have their uses. You have light combo attacks and specials like you say but you don’t mention the heavy attack which makes me think you don’t even realize it’s there.
        It’s OK to disagree but saying a review is “ill conceived” when it is based on two people’s experiences doesn’t make sense. You can’t say that the controls are objectively bad if 2 people have played this game this much and enjoyed the controls on this level. It just means you disagree.
        Hot take: Turtles is Time is a button masher (It’s still good). A hard game makes you learn its mechanics in order to succeed. TMNT can easily be beat by mashing and doing it that way is not fun. It might be more accessible to people new to the genre, or retro games as a whole but we are looking for something more engaging.

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  3. Probably need friends who don’t have a job and families to attend to, I guess. Well, Co-Op, or not: is just a preference, not how the game is suppose to be played. That is purely subjective.

    Ninja Warrior: Yes, you do move in 2 directions, but it still manages to pull off evasion and setups a whole lot better, but it still a beat’em up, regardless. It’s like comparing R-Type to Raiden; They’re still both “Shmups”, just with a different angle, respectively, that doesn’t mean all the elements drastically change, intk a different genre. They both shoot and accomplish what genre it fits in.

    Why can’t I pick up people and wield a sword at the same time? Grab’em by the collar and smack’em with a sword. Why can’t it be done? It’s pure fantasy.

    Ninja Warriors has Kunoichi who can grab/throw while she holds weapons in her hands. Blocking is essential in Ninja Warriors too, except it isn’t the limiting factor like KOTR. Super DoubleDragon is the same thing. Press “B” and grab the brawlers fist and use it against him, by kicking, punching, or throwing them, or a combo of each 3.

    The controls, on the physical pad itself, are fine, and the option to change the key layout is fine. I purely mean controlling, within the environment itself; Moving around, and diagonally, punching, jumping, et cetera.

    I know what the heavy attack is. It’s just situational itself.

    Again, when I mean “controls”, I just mean the virtual environment, not how the keys are layed out themselves. In general terms: it’s a sluggish experience. And when I make the claim about them being bad, I mention (to me), not an official declaration(to everyone). I know it’s ok to disagree, but there’s a discussion box, so I started one, and gave MY opinion on it. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a ‘discussion’, now would there?

    Never said “Turtles in Time” wasn’t a button masher, it just performs better than expected, as a button-masher should be. It’s meant to be action-packed, as expected.

    Friends around here have their lives to dedicate to family/work, we all don’t have time to hyper-focus on a game that would probably take hours to repeat, over and over. We did this as kids, and coming back it: Not the same as it was, it’s just nostalgia, to me. If I want a better version of this, then yeah, maybe “Ninja Warriors, “Battletoads”, or “Double Dragon” would be an optimal choice, not a watered-down Arcade port of a game, lol, or hell, maybe I’ll play the MAME version of KOTR

    It just isn’t a 9.5, though maybe i’d bump it up to a half a point, to a 7. Since it makes a great screen-saver for a TV demo. There are definitely better Beat’em-up titles, than this.

    Cheers.

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  4. Well I guess you just don’t get it, and that’s fine… The heavy attack is essential and the block is not a limiting factor it’s your most important tool to do damage to bosses safely. I didn’t mean to make such a big deal about grabbing, of course it’s possible. Wulverblade and Pirates of Dark Water do it but I dno in KOTR it doesn’t feel like it’s missing.
    Maybe you should look at the tone of your first comment. It didn’t feel like you cared about objectiveness and opinions but now I see you do. I just felt the comment was made with a fundamental lack of knowledge of the game’s mechanics. But I understand if you don’t feel the game to be interesting enough to invest the time to use them well. But that way you are only playing half the game.
    I knew what you meant by controls we just don’t agree with what you think them.
    I’m sorry you and your friends can’t make more time together, I’m lucky I live in a small country and everyone loves pretty close to each other.

    Peace friend

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  5. No, when I meant the heavy attack was situational: I meant you can’t just mash it, and use it carelessly. When I meant the “block” was the “limiting factor” I meant that was the EXTENT of moves compared to the other game. Please read carefully.

    Grappling, is not outright, a necessity in beat’em-ups, but it would have been a nice SNES feature, unlike the arcade version.

    Take what people say, with a grain of salt. No matter how people describe their opinion: It’s elbow ribbing. But when you call me straight-up “wrong”, about my opinion: That is dismissive in its own right, dont you think? 😛 Maybe not! Because you love the game! I just don’t find it to be that high, among other beat’emups on SNES, sorry.

    Well agree, to disagree on controls. I just dont find it accurate, or spot on with responsiveness. It could be a hertz issue on the TV, but I have setup for 60hz.

    It’s not that big a deal about time with folks, people hang out when they can, and there are always better things to do, or better games to play. And mostly is what the internet is for, because most folks prefer online play, and modern games.

    Take care.

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    1. Yeah of course it’s dismissive but that is the kind of discourse you opened with. I didn’t want to come off as sensitive about your opinion lol. It’s still funny how opinions can differ on such a simple game.

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      1. Yeah, my initial response went kinda childish on the ‘master piece’ take. But I guess if people hold this game a little dear: I could see how it could come off offensive to some… But should every perceived reaction have an opposite and equal reaction? Voice inflection and body language is easier to express a light-hearted diss, as opposed to interpeting written words, and taken at face-value. I guess I ought to rethink how I approach something a little better, in a light-hearted manner, than an initial sentence with profanity, coming off as hyperbole, who don’t understand the take.

        I am not saying this IS THE WORST game, on the SNES, far from it, but to me: There are more viable alternatives. I just don’t find it to be a “9.5” overall, when there are a ton of games similar to it, with improved mechanics.

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