For quite some time now we have been tracking Manomio's upcoming iAmiga emulation system for iOS, designed as a sort of wrapper or delivery vehicle to bring licensed Amiga games to the App Store. At the end of last year, we posted an exclusive preview of the in-development system, including a demo video showing a number of classic test titles running quite well on an iPhone 4. One of the titles we played with back then was Cinemaware's classic 1986 strategy game, Defender of the Crown. I'm happy to report that this well-loved, fully-licensed title will be the first iAmiga-powered game to land in the App Store, and that Manomio CEO Stuart Carnie was kind enough to grant us exclusive access to a near-release build of the game.

First, let me say a little bit about the game, for those that may be unfamiliar. Defender of the Crown is a strategy game set in medieval England. The player takes on the role of any of four Saxon knights in a bid to defeat the Norman invaders and fill the vacant throne of England. The original game manual, which is packed with historical information, tells the story well.

IT IS A TIME OF LEGENDS. A time for heroes. A time of bitter strife, when great men rise above their peers to perform great deeds. A chapter of history is in the making.

Your liege the king is dead, the throne vacant. Britain enters a season of destruction, a winter of killing that can end only when the last brave Saxon knight lies dead or the castles of the Normans lie in heaps of rubble, emptied of the foul oppressors who have enslaved your people.

It is a time when foreign invaders shall learn truths administered by the shining blades of Saxon swords. It is a time when heroes are made, and legends are born.

The game is centered around a Risk-style map of England on which the player builds and deploys troops in an effort to defend home territories and take land occupied by the Normans. The struggle involves field combat, castle raids (with catapults, even), jousting, rescuing damsels in distress, and the like. While some of the action is quite involved -- jousting is a first-person affair, for instance -- other portions of it are more high-level strategy, i.e. click attack, watch the stats columns update. The whole thing is laid out like a very interactive board game, as opposed to something more intricate and vast, such as the more recent Warcraft III or Starcraft II. It is 25 years old, after all.

Even though Defender of the Crown is now 25, the pixel artwork of the talented and renowned Jim Sachs is still lovely to behold -- and I don't think I'm talking through my retro blinders, there. Given that, I wanted to share an excerpt from Brian Bagnall's excellent book On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore, to help convey just how actually jarring an experience it was to see the game for the first time back in 1986.

[Amiga co-creator R.J.] Mical saw artist Jim Sachs push the Amiga to its full potential. "Jim Sachs, what a God he is," marvels Mical. "Jim Sachs is amazing. These days everyone sees graphics like that because there are a lot of really good computer graphics artists now, but back then, 20 years ago, it was astonishing to have someone that good."

The final game was a landmark in video game production values. As game designer Bob Lindstrom recalls, "The shock of seeing Defender for the first time was one of those experiences that changed the gaming stakes for all of us."

Compared to other video games of the time, Defender of the Crown established a new level of quality. IBM had Kings Quest by Sierra On-Line, a decent but primitive adventure game. The Macintosh had games like Checkers or Backgammon, or board games like RiskDefender of the Crown had richer graphics than any computer, console, or even arcade game could boast in 1986. It was a revelation.

That's not to say that the game shined so brightly on every one of the numerous platforms to which it was ported. While the Amiga original is unquestionably the most visually impressive of the lot, there's room for debate as to which version looks the worst. And, happily for iOS users, it's the Amiga version that will soon be landing in the App Store.

Being a faithfully emulated version of the original, Defender of the Crown for iOS brings with it the Amiga's mouse-based controls, and Manomio has done a good job of making that work with the iPad's touchscreen. In order to interact with items on the screen or aim the jousting lance, the screen becomes basically a large trackpad, with a pointer that can be dragged or clicked (tapped) to get things done. As a full-time user of Apple's large Magic Trackpad, I very quickly got accustomed to the interaction, there. In a number of situations, a direct tap on this or that item on the screen would be preferable to dragging the pointer about, true, but I think it's important to remember that this is an emulated title that is being made available to iOS gamers thanks to the iAmiga system. A ground-up rewrite of a classic from years past -- and the likelihood of that occurring -- is an entirely different proposition, from many angles. I think there's much to be enjoyed about Defender of the Crown on iOS, just as it is.

Have a look at a bit of gameplay on the iPad 2 from the latest build of the game.

Stuart indicates that right now the game is feature complete and all that's left is to finalize the in-game documentation. Defender of the Crown for iOS is a Universal application supporting the iPhone 3GS, 3rd gen iPod touch, iPad, or better. It should arrive in the App Store in about two weeks and we'll be sure to let readers know when they can start to have fun storming the castles.

  • http://twitter.com/stuartcarnie Stuart Carnie

    Ahhh, so close to rescuing the Saxon lady; such an awesome clip little interlude :)

  • DotComCTO

    Stuart and Manomio are rocking it on Defender of the Crown! It's gonna be awesome - especially for all us Amiga fans out there! Can't wait...  :-D

  • http://twitter.com/asianmack asianmack

    YES!

  • Arti

    My favorite game on Amiga - SuperFrog !!!

  • DnPRuLZ

    Only DoC? :(  In the C64 app, there is only few games too, can't be expanded my owns. fck. Will this be the s(h)ame?

  • http://www.muschamp.ca/ Muskie

    I suggested to someone that an iPod version of Defenders of the Crown would work well, never thought it would be an Amiga port.  The other game I suggested them to do for the iPhone/iPad was Ramparts.

    • Blammo

      Nobody gives a damn

      • http://www.muschamp.ca/ Muskie

        Ah yes, nothing like Internet anonymity to make someone feel large and important, eh Blammo?  Could be you just don't have the perspective of someone who has been playing games for too long.  Could be you don't have fond memories of this game in all its CGA/EGA glory.  Could be you don't comprehend the technical merits of the Amiga nor the oddity of bringing something like Defender of the Crown out of retirement and off a dead platform and making it available to an entire new generation of potential fans.  Could be you think this was a trivial accomplishment unworthy of respect and admiration.  Could be you get your jollies insulting random people on the Internet.  Could be you're just a small pathetic insect not worth the blood you suck from others as you buzz and bite, poke and prattle, stammer and sting.  Could be your comment will be moderated out of existence, but not until I call you out for the cowardly troll that you are.

        Could be I've been helping some people work on something to do with medieval castle storming.  Could be we looked back into the history of gaming for touch stones.  Could be I recommend they look at Ramparts, could be I still think this somewhat obscure and forgotten game would work damn well on the iPad.

        Could be I wasted my time typing all this.  But the world isn't so large that I can't take the time to squash an insignificant troll despite this being a surprisingly busy day.  To quote John Cleese "Piss off!"

      • Anonymous

        No really, nobody gives a damn.

      • Some dude

        I sure hope you had "Could be" on cut n paste !! hehehe

  • http://www.facebook.com/ljkiii Lawrence Kerr

    When is Turrican coming out? And Turrican 2?!

  • Adams Immersive

    Cool. More Cinemaware please!

  • http://twitter.com/Eric_WVGG Eric Jacobsen

    Hey, I remember this game. It was the first game I ever bought and then returned to the software store. It was *horrible*.

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

    I quite liked Defender of the Crown back in the day, but it was very much surpassed by Cinemaware's later efforts.

    Had this been done properly, as an in-app purchase in an Amiga emu app, then I would have picked it up, but I refuse to support the obnoxious practice of packaging ROMs as seperate apps. Sega have been pushing this ridiculous model for ages now despite other emus doing it vastly better.  iOS devices are already over cluttered with apps, so the notion of filling up even more screens with individual ROMs borders on ridiculous.

    I appreciate Manomio's emulation skills but this is sadly another stumble from them. Their C64 emu had great promise, but is sadly abandon-ware now with no new ROM releases in  many, many months. Come back with a proper Amiga emu app with a fully stocked and regularly updated in-app store and you'll have my money, but until then I'll be spending on other emus, such as NEC's TurboGraphx emulator.

    • http://toucharcade.com blakespot

      I actually feel that the one-off release approach that Manomio is taking here lends each game a broader appeal to a general -- not just hardcore retro -- audience. It's basically selling a game that happens to be emulated. 

      For the C64 emulator, the games are clearly games of the past, whatever their gameplay merits. Many Amiga games look as good a a native iOS game. Selling such a game individually, as that game alone (wrapped in the emulator) makes it rather more accessible than if it were a game buried down in an emulator, in my opinion.

      If Amiga titles were not often so close to iOS games in visuals, this approach would make less sense. 

      I'm in favor of it.

    • http://twitter.com/stuartcarnie Stuart Carnie

      A fair way to manage that is to create an 'Amiga' folder, and stick all those games there.  As Blake pointed out, this is intended to broaden the audience.  Also, Amiga games tend to be much larger, so a self-contained app with all the images would grow to be huge.
      We do hope to release the iAmiga shell down the road.  There is no date yet, but support for these individual titles will help make that happen faster.  I envision individual games you've purchased can be 'installed' in iAmiga and played directly.  Once installed, you could go ahead and remove the individual title.  This would be the full Amiga experience.  I could imagine support for HDD and WHDLoader, but floppy support would still work and hopefully we can expose workbench (which we also have licensed).

      • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

        That sounds horribly cumbersome and completely counter to the elegant mechanisms built into iOS.  I don't see why you need release the emulator with every ROM already in the initial install, - just download them as needed. Even if this wasn't possible Amiga games are still on the small side, most fitted on a single 1mb floppy disc. When you look at the size of some of the top iOS games, take Infinity Blade for example, - it's 600mb install would equate to roughly 600 Amiga discs. That should be more than enough, especially given your track record of C64 ROM releases.

        I don't like to criticise so harshly but I really feel this is the wrong approach and one which will alienate the target audience.  Time will tell I guess but I'm afraid I won't be buying until you approach this in a more user friendly way and I've also seen you can actually support this emulator with regular releases.

        I would also ask if you intend to hold onto the C64 iOS rights, or will pass them onto another developer who could actually support the system properly. Elite perhaps? They're doing a great job supporting their Spectrum iOS emu with new ROMs.

      • JennyC

        Well, geez.  If the target audience can't pay 99 cents a game for the developers' time and effort, I guess this will be the only Amiga title we'll see. . . Pity.

      • DotComCTO

        Phil - Forgive me if I have mistranslated what I have read, but if I boil down your statements, I believe you are saying, "I want a full Amiga emulator where I can load any game/application/utility that I want." If that's the case, it just isn't that easy to do. Just because you can find places to download ADF files freely, doesn't mean you have the legal right to do so. In addition, for every person that still owns and has a mechanism to transfer their own Amiga disk images to an emulator, there are 1000 more that will just resort to downloading ADF files. So what should Manomio do? Apple won't allow a developer to release an emulator that runs any arbitrary code; witness the demise of iDOS.

        While Manomio has the Amiga licensing itself, getting proper licensing from every Amiga developer is no easy feat. It takes a lot of time and effort, but that's what's required. You can be as insulting as you like to Manomio, but throwing a tantrum won't get you what you want from them anyway...I don't care who the developer is.

        For full disclosure, I have been working with Stuart as a beta tester on DotC and iAmiga. I am not paid by Manomio and/or Stuart. I'm just a guy that has been gaming since before there were video games, and I've owned pretty much every computer system, gaming console and handheld since 1979. Stuart is a stand up guy, and his team has done a bang up job on DotC!

      • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

        You did misunderstand what I said I'm afraid. I'm very willing to pay for in-app content, so much so that I bought most of the small selection of C64 games in Manomio's C64 app, even games I had never played before.

        I wasn't throwing a "tantrum" as you crudely put it, I was trying to be constructive. The lack of ROM releases for the C64 emu have essentially killed C64 emulation on iOS, as Manomio appears to hold exclusive rights. Perhaps it's simply too much for such a small outfit to tackle licensing deals with numerous old developers. I wish it was different as I like to support the underdogs, but C64 was a failure and this horribly crippled first iOS Amiga emu release has set every alarm bell possible ringing. I fear we'll see a handful of ROMs packaged as separate, never updated apps and then all will go silent again.

      • DotComCTO

        Phil - my apologies for the misunderstanding of what you were trying to say. Glad you clarified. I completely get your point and frustration about C64 and your concern about iAmiga. Again, I do *not* work for Manomio, so I don't have detailed knowledge of everything that goes on. I'm just a beta tester that is passionate about emulation of the platforms and games that I remember so fondly.

        That said, I think that some things are easy to say and hard to do. In my personal opinion, I don't think that a larger company would necessarily do a better job at securing licensing rights. They may have more resources (e.g., people and/or money), but there's still a lot of legwork involved in tracking down the owners of 20 year old games. Then they have to be convinced to allow the re-publication of their game (assuming they own those rights).

        Now, as I mentioned elsewhere, DotC is a special release. I'm not at all privy to the internal details behind making a dedicated release. As a fan of the game and of Cinemaware, I'm really happy about it. It could be that Manomio is using this release as a "trial balloon" to demonstrate to Cinemaware (and other publishers) the potential sales on the iOS platform. Maybe the sales performance equates to the granting of additional licenses to Manomio? I hope so.

        Not much more I can add to this. I totally get your point, and like you, can only hope that Manomio is able to do well for us fans of the Amiga platform.

  • Anonymous

    I had this on the Amiga - was considered one of the best looking games back in the day, but "Sinbad and the Throne" of the Falcon was my favorite Cinemaware game. Not as visually impressive as DOTC, but it had more meat on its bones and total blast to play.

  • Spajdr

    there will be release of iUAE, amiga emulator based on winUAE that will load any game, so stay tuned

    • Anonymous

      Do you mean an official app store version of iUAE or are you talking Cydia?

      • Spajdr

        it will be available as alpha version on cydia at end of the month, from what i been told.

  • http://www.vitaltitles.com/ Nick

    I remember dying for this on my nes. I got it for Christmas. And I love hated it so much. I sucked at it and there was oodles of suck in the nes gameplay. I will happily pick this up, though, to give it a go because, well, why not? I still remember it after all these years. But then I also remember Rambo for the nes.... And that is not a good memory...

    • Anonymous

      LOL - you mean Rambo was worse than Ikari Warriors 3 ? 

  • Mandi

    Cinemaware on iOS?  Rocket Ranger please!!!  

  • andrzej raczynski

    why in the world would you keep the stupid cursor mechanic in the game, this IS a touch platform after all.

    • DotComCTO

      It was done because the game is being emulated; it is not a re-write & port of DotC.   To do what you're suggesting would require significant rework/reverse engineering of DotC to be able to support full touch controls.

      I totally get that it's counter-intuitive to the iOS platform, but Manomio have done a nice job with the mouse pointer emulation.

    • http://toucharcade.com blakespot

      Because this is an emulated title. This is not a rewrite. If it were a rewrite, the mouse mechanic obviously would not be maintained. Solid emulation is not anything close to a trivial task, but it's nothing similar to a rewrite. 

      Does that make sense?

      • DotComCTO

        Great minds think alike! Now stop copying me!  :-D

  • DotComCTO

    FYI - I spoke with Stuart via email, and he's allowed me to mention that I've been beta testing DotC (and iAmiga) for a while. If you've got any particular questions, fire away. I think Stuart will create a separate thread for this. There are a few questions on why *only* DotC is being released. The answer is that this is a special release and doesn't have tons to do with iAmiga, other than it runs on a variant of that platform. Manomio had to acquire the license to release DotC on iOS from Cinemaware, and I know that Cinemaware had to review the work and bless it before it could be released to the public.The Manomio team are very hard at work on iAmiga to make that perfect. The core emulation is great, but there's still a fair bit of work to go on the UI. Think of the DotC release as a highly specialized version of iAmiga. Make sense? As I mentioned in a prior post, I feel that the Manomio team has done a bang up job on DotC. They've been very responsive to comments and suggestions for improvements. Stuart is just a great guy, and very dedicated to providing the best retro experience that can be delivered.

  • http://chris.ly/ Chris Lee

    Sweet!!! Looks awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/nrathaus Noam Rathaus

    How about Syndicate Wars ?

    • DotComCTO

      Great game! Unfortunately, EA bought Bullfrog, so it's unlikely you'd ever see that get licensed.

  • http://www.pocketplayers.info Damien PocketPlayers

    Thats my All-Time favourite game! I own all versions around in my videogame collection i guess, but the Amiga version is the best in my opinion. On iPhone 4 i use the GBA version which was done quite well...

    Wouldnt it be possible to add all old Cinemaware Classics for free or a very low price? They are kinda Freeware since the official Cinemaware site offers the ROM images for free to use all common emulators themselves...

  • Matthew

    When will "It Came From The Desert" be ported. It was by far the best Cinemaware game on Amiga and took up countless hours of my youth, rolling around the hospital in a wheelchair....

    • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

      My favourite too. Wonderful game full of 50's B movie atmosphere. (largely taken from the film 'Them') Rocket Ranger was also fantastic.

  • Nardo, from the Fifth Galaxy

    Hellz yea!

    This game was a blast to play back on the Amiga. And I have played about every variation there is, even today I still play the Game Boy Advance version from time to time. This is a must buy for me. It's a good enough title to stand on its own. It can be a tough game, and it looks like the gang did a good job of emulating it as close as possible.

    Even though the C64 Store has been in a very sad state for months. I look at this title as an Individual app, not necessarily as an app that has to be an "in App" purchase with the iAmiga emulator. This title stands good on it's own merits.

    If you don't like the individual format release/sales, then don't buy it. Pretty simple.

    I have a SEGA folder and a NAMCO folder and TAITO folder....etc on my Touch and iPad. So whether it's separate or in app, doesn't really matter to me.

    ;

  • http://www.facebook.com/mmagdamit Mark Magdamit

    Wow, great work --  even the "brawwnk!" the music makes during screen transitions is there!  I own nearly all the Amiga Cinemaware games for my Amiga 500.  I think the single-app approach works here.  It's one less layer for people in my opinion.  I also support this port, cursor and all.  While it would be awesome to rework everything so that it was cursorless, I understand how much work that would take.  From what I can tell from the video the game plays just fine as-is.  

    Cinemaware games were great in that most of them really only took about an hour to beat, but were fun to beat again and again.I'm hoping for It Came From The Desert and the Anthead expansion someday ;)  The very first game expansion I ever bought!

    • DotComCTO

      You'll see how seamless Manomio made this work. They hammered away at it to make it smooth and they've masked a lot of the Amiga WorkBench UI.

  • heatherl

    Looks Great!!!! Very Excited to see this!

  • litchie

    By publishing each game separately you can customize documentation and control interface according to the game style.  This is much better than packaging different games into one single emulator release.

  • litchie

    By publishing each game separately you can customize documentation and control interface according to the game style.  This is much better than packaging different games into one single emulator release.

  • Loafmeister

    Can't wait to try this out, this is a classic (though it was bettered with the Amiga CD32 of Defender of the Crown 2, which was basically a remake, not a sequel but a better game).

    Lots of debate in this thread makes for interesting reading.  I have to admit, whether a game is part of one app or a standalone icon, getting the game is all that counts, I don't give a crap on the delivery method.

    Argument on size:  let's not compare this one game with what is the exception on the apps store (Infinity Blade, a larger game than 99% of the other ios games). The average game size is probably 20 megs so I get Stuart's example completely.

    Support for future Amiga games:  Here's hoping sales are good, there's no better incentives than sales.  But I get the C64 POV, it does suck to receive certain commitments and then see them not come through. Hopefully that won't be the case.

    Other notables:  Rocket Ranger was the best "cinematic" game Cinemaware put together, very "indiana jonesy".  But my fav Cinemaware game?  Wings. It was written by a hollywood writer and it showed; superbly done, though I worry the flat 3D polygons would be a turnoff for most people. Too bad, it's 240+ missions were awesome, from the first right to the last.

  • Anonymous

    You know what would be great? K240. Please somebody port that to iOS (iPad). It would be perfect for a touch interface, what with those rounded off corners for buttons, and trying to tap on ships as they whizz off screen. 

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  • Noah

    Click the left mouse button to continue!

  • Slimwiggins

    I can't wait for Defender of the crown. When I first got my iPad back in January that is one of the first games I searched for. Thanks Manomio!

  • Anonymous

    I do not understand how anyone can read
    this and not think “genius alert”. Great work. I’ll keep coming back to read
    even more. ugg
    boots

  • Dgrams2003

    This was one of my fav C=64 and Amiga games.. I have hours and hours and hours in on this game.
    The one thing I'm worried about is the Jousting.. I had the exact spot and timing figured out to pretty much win every joust.. and I needed to be able to win the tournaments to win the games with some characters...  I hope this is ported so well that I can 'find the spot' once again..

  • Robert Atari ST Mega 1

    Defender of the Crown is best game I have played on my C64 and Atari. Atari version was better than Amiga version (I think so if I remember well :-) ).
    Anyway this is great game and brings back some nice memories.

  • Wolfric the Android User

    i've been able to play amiga defender of the crown on my galaxy s for a year or so now.  the emulator was FREE and the amiga disk images are FREE. and almost every game and demo will run on the emulator.   and yes i own the original amiga version of DotC.