While Capcom helped thrust the beat ‘em up genre to the forefront of gaming, they also were a major reason the genre became over-saturated. Although there were a myriad of settings to each of these titles that Capcom produced, the experience relied solely on an attack button, a jump button, and either a special attack button or a special attack in conjunction with the attack and jump buttons. Some took place in the Marvel Universe (The Punisher), while some utilized a then dream franchise crossover for their premise (Alien vs. Predator). While they all featured different backdrops, universes and eras, the end result was the same game, with a new skin, that couldn’t hold a candle to Final Fight. One such title that attempted to carve its own niche in the sea of beat ‘em up monotony was Knights of the Round. Another Capcom beat ‘em up title, Knights of the Round tried to distinguish its self from the pack by utilizing medieval setting, as well as several famous mainstays from the lore of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Is it enough to give its self an identity amidst a sea of similar titles?
Looking at the Options screen, You’ll notice the staples of the genre, attack and jump, as featured face button commands. M. Crush acts as the typical special attack that drains some of your health. There’s one more button featured — Defense. This rare addition to the controls of a beat ‘em up title helps add a light layer of innovation, as odd as that may seem. In KotR, you can hold the Defense button, block one hit, and initiate a very brief invulnerability period that helps save your metal plated hide during some of the more chaotic moments. While it’s all but useless for boss strategies, it does help with the mundane trash in your way.
Another unique feature to KotR is the leveling system. Although it’s not necessarily a game changing mechanic of any sort, as you level up, you receive visual armor pieces that magically appear on one of your three selectable characters. There’s not real visible difference in damage mitigation, nor damage dealing, but it’s still a rather neat visual gimmick watching Arthur, Percival or Lancelot slowly getting more geared up.
While the effects are generic and fitting enough, there’s one particular sound byte that will have you reaching for your broadsword in an attempt to cleave your TV in half. Whenever you hit an armored enemy, you produce an ear numbingly clank/bonk sound that manages to drown out all other audio cues. It’s a travesty, since the music is actually some of the best in the genre. It easily fits the mood and theme of the title to a tee, and is one of, if not the most underrated musical scores from Capcom.
Staying on a positive theme, the graphics, although nothing extraordinary by any means, work well, fit well and flow well with the world it’s portraying. While animations may lack, they are not much of a deterrent. Enemy variation is a bit light, featuring quite a few of the knife wielding whelps and broadsword carrying enemies, but there are enough models and classes spread out to stave off any feeling of deja vu throughout your travels.
With all of the positive aspects meshed together, the fact that although its more of the same from the genre as a whole, Knights of the Round is actually quite entertaining. Whether you’re playing single player or with a friend, the world you’re fighting through feels more fleshed out, with enough innovative additions to the genre to propel it ahead of a sea of mediocrity that the genre produces. While no where as memorable as Final Fight, Knights of the Round is definitely a beat ‘em up title that stands tall, with its sword held high.