Video Game: Castles
Castles is a Real-Time Strategy game produced by Quicksilver during the late 80's. A "spiritual ancestor" to newer castle sims like Stronghold, it focuses around a Medieval English king's efforts to fortify Wales with a series of strong castles to withstand local uprisings.In Castles, the player must construct anywhere between 3 to 8 castles (depending on difficulty), with each castle comprising a single "mission" in the game. Starting with an empty field, you must design your castle using various set-pieces of walls and towers. Then, laborers of different professions must be recruited to construct the various stages of each piece. Taxes must be raised, and naturally an army built to protect the castle from attacks by various local factions (as well as some supernatural armies, when the game's "fantasy" mode is activated).The game itself runs in Real Time. Occasionally, it is interrupted with cutscenes presenting a very short Dialogue Tree in which various characters appear at your court to request audience with you. Combat also runs in real time, with your hired defenders trying to prevent the enemy from toppling your built-up castle segments. Once the castle is complete (preferably with a moat dug around it), a massive battle erupts in which the locals make one final attempt to overwhelm you with great numbers. Successful defense at this stage will finish a "mission" and move on to the next castle.This was one of the first games to feature VGA graphics (256 colors) as well as mouse control and Midi music. It was highly acclaimed, and received a reasonably good sequel that took the castle-building business one step further, mixing in "grand strategy" elements as your faction vied for control of Medieval France.
This work includes examples of the following tropes:
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Sort of. The more soldier units you place on the map before a battle, the weaker each unit will be. That's because your total soldiers available will be split up into as many units as you placed. Of course, having less units means it'll take more time to defeat the enemy.
- Corrupt Church: In the sequel, you have to gain the Pope's favor to become the king of France, and the main way to do this is by bribery (i.e. buying indulgences). Exactly what you'd expect for a game set in medieval France.
- Dialogue Tree: A special kind of tree that spanned out over several hours of gameplay (though each "part" of the tree was very short, they just had great intervals between them!). See the article for more details.
- Homing Boulders: All projectiles. Also see No Arc In Archery, below.
- Kingmaker Scenario: In Castles II, the Pope is the Kingmaker.
- Knight in Shining Armor: The entire family of the Southhampton Duchy. You can pretty much count on them to be loyal and trustworthy, and their advice should be heeded... in most cases.
- Medieval European Fantasy: What happens when you turn on "Fantasy" mode. Done very much in line with Briton/Celtic/Welsh folklore, and includes the Seelie Court, Ogres, black magic, etcetera. Church-figures who come to visit your court often seems befuddled and displaced as a result.
- No Arc in Archery: None whatsoever. Arrows fly like bullets.
- The Crusades: The pope will sometimes ask you to send some men for these. Needless to say, this will be very bad for castle defenses if you agree... and very bad for church relations if you refuse. It's a no-win situation, so getting this dialogue is always a Face Palm moment.
- Shoot the Messenger: When an opponent sends a diplomat to you in Castles II, one of the options is "Kill Him."
- Siege Engines: Your worst nightmare. They seldom appear, usually only in the last battles of your last few castles in the campaign, on Hard difficulty. When they do, you'd better do your best to take them out pronto.