LIONHEART / Thalion / Amiga
Publisher Thalion had a long string of good Amiga releases from the late '80s to the early '90s, but Lionheart might have been their action crown jewel. Unfortunately, by the time it was released in late '93, only a tiny handful of diehard stalwarts were still gaming on the Amiga. So it pretty much flew beneath general gaming's radar, and was never heard from again.
Which is unjust, because this game looks and sounds nearly as good as the best of the TurboDuo and Sega CD action games, like Rondo of Blood and Sonic CD. It's got parallax scrolling. It's got amazing color depth and detail. It's got a kickin' digital MOD soundtrack. Did I mention the art? My God, man, THIS is what I miss from the 2D era. Artist Henk Nieborg is a true old master of pixel art, and I wish he would teach classes or something to this current generation of "indie" kids and their abysmal "retro-style" art.
With all this obvious love and talent poured into the game, it really breaks my heart to only give it a 3/5. But it falls into the same trap that so many other really pretty Amiga side-scrollers did -- the actual gameplay is kludgy and irritating. Running and jumping work just fine here, but there's all kinds of problems when ol' Lionheart pulls his sword. You can't just swing, pressing the button once draws it, then he kind of stands around stiffly until you press it again or press a directional button. It's just too slow to adequately deal with most of the enemies. The idea with this is that holding down the attack button allows you to do all sorts of impressive twirly Conan moves, but I'd trade every single one of them for just a basic, functional Actraiser-style swing.