The Settlers (Amiga Review)

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Oh you heard us right, we’re now having Amiga reviews on the site ‘cos we love biting off more than we can chew! New AA member Tim “EmuChicken” Wilson is to blame but to be fair to him it’s a cracker and we’re looking forward to many, many more.

After you’ve read his thoughts on The Settlers (aka Serf City: Life is Feudal) why not check out his Bandcamp music page and also give a like to/visit his The DOS Place Facebook page for more retrogaming shenanigans (and we know you love those).

 

Was there ever a time in your life, when a demo grabs you by the balls – then swiftly pushes you to upgrade your rig?

Returning from school, my mum came in through the front door with what could’ve been around ten bags of shopping. She passes me a fresh copy of CUAmiga, with two coverdisks glued to the front. One sporting “two FULL PRICED Graphic packages”, the other split between a demo of “Turrican 3”- sequel to a game I rather liked at the time (still do to this very day). It was a rather linear and claustrophobic experience, I guess.. Then following a quick restart, “The Settlers”.

Upon loading, it threw out some stats: how many “sounds” were loaded. With my A500+, standing at around 25%. Maybe this was a limitation? It WAS a demo. Then build castle, wood cutter, tree planter, sawmill… What WAS this? You need to construct A WHOLE ECONOMY, BRAIN ‘SPLODE!. Out flew the copy of CUAmiga, “Special Reserve” mail-ordered “The Settlers” at full price.

 

 

The Settlers prides itself on its presentation, and solid core. The game’s box alone is a sight, and then the manual! It’s art to behold, a BIBLE.

Upon loading, you are thrown into an introduction. It follows a knight on a horse on his visit to the castle, walking through a lively town. It fits the mood of the game perfectly.

Once the intro has finished, the game reports back to you that only 24% sound has been loaded. Uh, what? There has to be something wrong, a quick restart, 16%- it varies!? Enough of this!- “Dad! My Amiga needs more memory!”- Another mail ordered part- 1MB Chip RAM expansion.

– Amiga 500+, 2MB RAM.-

100% SOUND… And MUSIC!? BOSH!

Passing this threshold, you can now hear the pigs oink, the wind whistling through the trees. PURE LUSH! – An almost-thirteen minute soundtrack compliments the tranquil ambiance.

 

 

The gameplay forms as therapy, we can see our country work and thrive as the player micromanages the economy. You construct a medieval town by ordering the construction of buildings in an almost “SimCity” or “Populous” type fashion. Once built, fishermen walk to the pond, pull out fish- farmers lays seed to grow corn, the geologists yelp “yippee!” as they find gold in them there hills. You don’t even need to “play” this game to enjoy this one. The cute, little men are a marvel to observe.

So what? Can we actually WAR in this? Well, yes. To start, the houses that the knights possess increase our territory, which is important for us to gain momentum in resources. Every player is limited to even the amount of land we have. We also need knights, ahem, well motivated knights, or even the highest ranked pony-tailed warriors will lose against beardface. Motivating them requires gold, to recruit knights, we need swords and shields – produced with steel and coal, ore is mined from the mountains, oh, them miners need pick-axes, and food – hfiowoiahiohskna pigs! (yes, got bored thinking what to type). A strong military primarily is needed as protection for your settlement, and can be used to attack, to DESTROY THE ENEMY!

Enemy? Yes, you’re stuck on the map with another, with similar goals to yourself. Earlier levels usually have you to concentrate on creating your economy, whereas the later levels have constant territorial war. With a maximum of 3 other opponents, this can get nasty! As territory is increased by housing military type buildings, they naturally surround the main palace, acting like a barrier. The more knights need to travel whilst attacking, the more they tire. When you defeat all the knights guarding the enemy palace the stage is won.

 

 

Each level can last for a LONG time. We’re not quite at “Civilization” length, but with the amount of management you can do for your town you can, for example, leave your town and have your guys look after the place whilst you’re out for a meal. Many-a-time I’ve been conveniently surprised at the amount of top-tier knights and gold my settlement has, or if the enemy has taken hold! (eep!)

Can you name something that god/strategy games lack?

 

Multiplayer!!!

Grab another mouse and play with a buddy! The screen vertically splits in half. Same game, double the fun! Sure, it’s quite a slow game, but with a good friend, snacks, and a large carton of OJ, you’ll be set. Only now that we’re all older, we can “responsibly” play with beer, burgers and any other substance (ahem) that we wish (he means Haribo, probably – Ed).

 

Final thoughts

The Settlers is an outstanding game that wasn’t afraid to tread new ground within the simulation genre. It can be played on stock Amiga’s, and with an upgraded experience on expanded machines, showing that the developers cared a lot to future proof their title.

I have very fond memories of the original Settlers game. Depth, extremely cute characters, iconic pig grunts, and a soundtrack where me and my buddy made up odd lyrics about fishermen planting trees.

It spawned a franchise, and to this day, the original formula still has not been beat. “Long live the fighters!”

 

Tim

 

 

All screenshots taken from Moby Games.

 

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