Capcom was the king of the beat ‘em ups during the 1990s, having made games like Final Fight, Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara and Alien vs Predator (the arcade version, not the SNES port). Knights of the Round is one of their best titles and it was ported to the SNES but unlike their other games this one hasn’t really been given the attention and praise that it deserves.
“First of all, the game has an intricate blocking system. You block by pressing away from the enemy and the attack button but you have to time it right, ensuring you block right as the enemy is about to hit you”
You get to choose amongst three playable characters: King Arthur, Lancelot and Percival. Lancelot is the fastest but doesn’t deal much damage, Percival is the game’s power tank but is also quite slow and King Arthur is in the middle, being the most balanced of the three. Each one has their own special attack and taking advantage of these special moves will help defeat bosses or specific enemies like those that can fly.
The game plays like most beat ‘em ups in that you focus on going from left to right and fighting hordes of enemies. However, Knights of the Round introduces a few wrinkles to the formula that help make it stand out.
“Visually and musically the game is decent. I can’t call it the best looking beat ‘em up on the SNES or the best sounding but it does get the job done”
First of all, the game has an intricate blocking system. You block by pressing away from the enemy and the attack button but you have to time it right, ensuring you block right as the enemy is about to hit you. This will open up a small window for you to counterattack. If you time your block wrong then the character will get exhausted for a few seconds and this makes you vulnerable. It’s a nice risk-versus-reward mechanic and adds a much-needed layer of depth to what could have been a monotonous button masher.
There’s also RPG mechanics in that you can earn experience points with the items you pick up and the enemies you defeat. Earn enough points and your character levels up. This raises their strength, speed or max HP to a certain degree and even alters how the character looks.
“Overall, Knights of the Round is a good beat ‘em up but it could have benefited from more memorable music and visual flair”
One other neat addition is the ability to ride a horse at certain parts. Mounting a horse makes it harder for enemies to hit you and you can even trample them down. It’s not really that important to the game but it’s the little things like this that make Knights of the Round stand out more.
Visually and musically the game is decent. I can’t call it the best looking beat ‘em up on the SNES or the best sounding but it does get the job done. You will experience some slowdown however, especially when there are many enemies on the screen at once, and the music can get a little repetitive over the course of the game but it’s never offensive. It’s all nice but neither the graphics nor music will stick with you after you’ve turned the game off.
Overall, Knights of the Round is a good beat ‘em up but it could have benefited from more memorable music and visual flair. The blocking mechanics, RPG elements, and horse riding turn this average action game into something more and it’s definitely more enjoyable when played with a friend.