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Video Game / King Arthur & the Knights of Justice

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The title screen above, some gameplay below.
King Arthur & the Knights of Justice is a video game for the SNES developed by Manley & Associates and published by Enix. It was released in 1995 as the closing note of the entire franchise.
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As with the cartoon, the premise involves the evil Queen Morgana and her cruel Warlord army, commanded by Lord Viper, trapping the legendary king and the knights of the round table in the Cave of Glass. Merlin searches through time to find suitable replacements for the knights to defend Camelot and finds an Identical Stranger to King Arthur named Arthur King who is a quarterback for the New York Knights, a college football team along with ten of his teammates and their equipment manager. The twelve new heroes are tasked with recovering their shields and the Keys of Truth, one for each knight that only they can initially touch. In doing so, they also have to defeat each of the eight main Warlords, Viper, and eventually battle Morgana herself for the final key that will free the true Knights of Justice and allow the football team to finally return home.

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The game is based on the first season of the cartoon, of which the scenarios of four episodes ("The Unbeliever", "Even Knights... Have to Eat", "To Save a Squire", and "The Way Back") are directly recognizable in the game's narrative. Additionally, the development team dug into Arthurian Legends beyond what the franchise already had incorporated to build its own take on. Unfortunately, with the franchise Cut Short, the game ended up rushed and met with largely negative reviews.

Note: This page only lists tropes that don't pertain to other parts of the franchise.

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King Arthur and the Knights of Justice contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In "To Save a Squire", Blackwing throws the Tears of Gorjus on Everett because he mistakes him for Arthur, for whom the potion is intended, due to the squire playing around in the king's armor. In the game, there is no reason given why Everett was targeted. It cannot be he was playing in the king's armor, because he is explicitly hit while Arthur was off defeating Blinder.
  • Adapted Out: Some of these are due to time constraints, while others could've very well never been intended to be included. Warlords Axe and Blackwing are nowhere to be found in the game. As much as most of the horses are non-characters, it is notable that Lucan's battle ram is modified to not need a horse while Spike's battle cart is changed completely and also self-running. Orin of "Even Knights... Have to Eat" fame was supposed to be in the game, but ended up not included. Meanwhile, Grimlap's presence highlights the absence of the Worm, his Animal Nemesis in "The Way Back". There's also something to be said for the lack of courtiers in Camelot during gameplay, as Everett is exclusively present for a short part of the game and Guinevere is featured in one shot of the ending scenario only. If you don't know the rest of the franchise, you'll have no idea who she is.
  • Alchemic Elementals: Castle Vilor is protected by four towers, one for each alchemic element. In order to enter, the Knights have to acquire the Four Elemental keys. The Fire Elemental Key is retrieved by defeating a bunch of fire elementals. The Earth Elemental Key is a reward from the Gnome King for saving his son. The Air Elemental Key is found on a Floating Continent and requires the party to turn into birds to reach it. And the Water Elemental Key is obtained from Druas, an alchemist living in the swamp.
  • Animorphism:
    • Arthur and two of his Knights are turned into birds by Blaise, because it is the only way for them to get into Stone Keep, the most fortified of all Warlord strongholds. The potion that allowed the change supposedly only works for a short time, because the Knights don't need anything to turn back into humans once inside the stronghold. Later, the Knights return to Blaise for the last drops so they can turn into birds once more to retrieve the Air Elemental Key.
    • Morgana turns herself into a humongous dragon for the final battle as an immediate One-Winged Angel form.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After all their efforts to protect and save Camelot, it's not for the football team to enjoy this world's newfound peace. It's time for them to finally go home. To this end, they gather at Stonehenge and are transported back as suddenly as they were ripped from their own world, leaving Merlin to utter a simple "Good-bye, Arthur." for the addressed no longer to hear.
  • Brainwashed: The people of Welton are brainwashed into loyalty to Queen Morgana. Like this, they will reject Arthur and the Knights until they dress up and pretend to be Warlords themselves. The Knights break the spell by gathering the Goblet of Loyalty, the Emerald of Reason, and the Ruby of Compassion (the game's code also has the Sapphire of Truth, but it's not in the game itself) and leaving these items at the altar of the local church.
  • But Thou Must!: There aren't many Yes/No moments, but you can't ever answer them with No.
  • Canon Foreigner: The game adds the Gnome Prince (King Kazak's son), Blaise (Arthur's mentor), Druas (an alchemist), Erek of Tintagel (Castle Tintagel's lord), the Doorkeeper (a psychopomp), the Black Family (an undead family of four), and several lesser extras to the overall cast. The booklet also goes for Decomposite Character by splitting the Lady of the Table into the Lady of the Table and the Lady of the Lake, but this is not reflected in the game itself.
  • Check-Point Starvation: A result of passwords only being generated if a Key of Truth is retrieved, which limits things to (twelve minus one is) eleven save points. For most of the game, this isn't a biggie, but then there's the final section. Lance's key is the eleventh one and obtained at the start of the Dark Forest. So if Morgana's dragon ends you, which it is very likely to do because the size of its attacks makes them hard to avoid, you'll have to go through all the trouble of having your Knights killed, deal with the Black Family, retrieve the Knights's souls, and make your way to Morgana's throne room, which is a way mercifully devoid of enemies but a long walk nonetheless.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Stonehenge is the place where the Keys of Truth are used to open a time portal that sends the football team back home. The place is explictly named, unlike the circle of standing stones that appears in "Camelot Park".
  • Collapsing Lair: Happens to Castle Morgana. It's justified in that in "Assault on Castle Morgana" it is noted that Morgana's magic is built into the castle, so No Ontological Inertia is arguably in effect.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: As per the rest of the franchise, the twelve Keys of Truth. The game adds the retrieval of the Knights' twelve shields to the quest, upping the number of collectibles to twenty-four.
  • Death by Adaptation: Two cases. Firstly, it's an implied fate for the zug species. In "To Save a Squire", Merlin wants the Knights not to harm the zug because it is an endangered species. In the game, Merlin wants the Knights not to harm the zug because it's the only creature of its kind. Secondly, Grimlap suffers from Adaptational Villainy, becoming a minor boss in the game where in the cartoon he was too strong and ultimately reasonable. As such, he lives in the cartoon and dies in the game.
  • Healing Herb: There are yellow flowers in the game that serve this role. They respawn immediately after reentering their screen, so stocking up is fairly easy. Dialoge and sprites in the game's code show they were supposed to regrow rather than respawn, but that bit of balancing was cut.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Warlords have either named or renamed their strongholds with the flavor of threat. Bash hangs around in Gruesome Keep, Blinder's crib is Castle Sanguine, Hammer is holed up in Stone Keep, Lucan resides in Castle Vilor, Slasher puns it up with the Cape of Death, and Viper's playground is the Dark Citadel.
    • Only Spike defies the trend by keeping Castle Tintagel Castle Tintagel. Or maybe he just hasn't had time to rename it, considering that its distance from Castle Morgana and closeness to Camelot suggests it's the last area the Warlords conquered.
    • There's also Blackroot Keep, a stronghold to the side the Dark Citadel. It doesn't feature any owner, though.
  • Missing Secret: More than you can shake a stick at, what with the game being rushed and all.
    • Only one Warlord stronghold, Castle Tintagel, gets a backstory. Specifically, Warlord Spike took it from Erek of Tintagel, who now lives as a hermit in the cave that contains a secret entrance into the castle. Spike is the first Warlord to be defeated, but Erek never returns to his castle.
    • Not so much a missing secret but clearly missing content exists in regards to the map of Blinder's Way. The map maker in Welton says that Bash tore the map to pieces but that he's held onto one scrap of it. What the map maker gives you is an item called Map Scrap, but it actually is the whole map. To make it more obvious the acquisition of the entire map was simplified from a larger quest, the map when viewed shows that it is pieced back together from five scraps.
    • Blackwing is mentioned by Merlin as the Warlord who threw the Tears of Gorjus on Everett. Due to the pattern of each Warlord appearing as a boss, one would expect for Blackwing to wait around for a trouncing somewhere too. He doesn't. He's nowhere to be found in the game. This missing secret is extra aggravating, because Blackwing is mentioned as the developer's favorite boss fight in Nintendo Power's article on the game.
    • When Blaise is visited a second time to get access to the Air Elemental Key, he asks to be brought the Staff of Life (ie, bread) from the bakery in Crownhorn. Although the bakery exists and bread serves as part of the decor, there is no way to obtain bread as an item (there and to give to Blaise; bread is acquired elsewhere for a different character) and what it was supposed to do isn't so much as hinted at.
    • The Black Family is cursed to spend eternity as The Undead. Mary Black explains that the curse makes them immune to all harm and can only be lifted if so much as one of them gets a new body and is then given a mortal blow. She laments that this will never happen, which, yeah, true, because there's no way in the game to free the family.
    • Lug's, Zeke's, and Lance's Keys of Truth have no boss or quest to get through before they can be obtained. Lug's Key just lies up for grabs in a house in Crownhorn. Zeke's Key is kept in a dungeon, Blackroot Keep, but the dungeon is small and features no boss. And Lance's Key is located in an unguarded cave within the Dark Forest. What makes this double odd is that the Wise Woman in Welton says that Morgana's forces have ten of the twelve keys. She mentions Tone's key, obtained from the gnomes, as one of the keys the Warlords don't have. In the game, Morgana's forces are fought for eight keys, meaning the three freebie keys correspond to two missing bosses and one missing quest.
    • For people who know the cartoon, there are complimentary and additional questions to be asked during a playthrough. Axe, a prominent Warlord in the cartoon, is missing just like Blackwing is, only no mention is made of Axe at all. The section featuring Crownhorn also is weirdly empty for its role in "Even Knights... Have to Eat", a feeling emphasized by the aforementioned missing quest for the Staff of Life associated with the village. Indeed, Orin's portrait is present in the game's code, but the character itself is nowhere to be found in the game.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Every bit of the franchise is vague about how exactly Morgana imprisoned the true Knights of Justice. At least in the game, the magic she used gets a name: the Spell of Spells.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Warlords stationed in and around Crownhorn are made invincible by the Stone of Power. To defeat them, the rock must be destroyed first, and that can only be done with Mordraine's Crystal. Fortunately, the one peasant left in Crownhorn knows how to cook one up.
  • Plotline Death: Two Knights will be killed by Morgana; who depends on who gets brought along. It's of the Disney Death variety, though, as they get Rescued from the Underworld by Arthur, who fetches their souls from the Plain of the Dead.
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: There's twelve graves prepared in the Dark Forest for the Knights of Justice. Unfilled, the gravestones read "[Name] The Plain of the Dead eagerly awaits his presence." Filled, they read "[Name] Eternally lost on the Plain of the Dead."
  • Save-Game Limits: The game saves by means of passwords. They are exclusively generated when a Key or Truth is obtained, so effectively the game has only (twelve minus one is) eleven save points.
  • Sizeshifting: Slasher grows four times as big at the start of his boss battle. How? No clue! But it does switch things up from all the other Warlords, which get strength from handling carts.
  • Snake People: For whatever reason, Viper is this. He starts off as a giant snake and when that form is sufficiently injured, he goes One-Winged Angel with a Dual Wielding lamia form.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: There's good enough reason to assume that the Warlords murdered the entirety of Welton in "The Unbeliever", with the exception of one peasant who allied himself with them. In the game, this is changed to the people of Welton remaining alive, but brainwashed into recognizing Morgana as their queen. And that condition is eventually fixed by the Knights of Justice.
  • Synchronization: Morgana kills two Knights by channeling magic through a statue resembling her.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Most of the Warlords, in particular if the player leaves the designated knight at Camelot to get the opportunity to fight the boss as Arthur. Arthur's benefit is that he's the one character that always has to come along anyway and that he's the first to retrieve his shield, which allows him ranged combat. Shooting at the Warlords (and most enemies) from afar is as solid a strategy as it gets. The trope gets subverted slightly in that some bosses take a ridiculous amount of hits before they go down, which makes them an artificial challenge for people who want to play the game as intended, with the right Knight defeating each boss.
  • Trust Password: In order to get Blaise to help you, you must talk to Merlin, his once-student. The word to get Blaise to open up is "Myrddin", Merlin's name in his youth.
  • The Underworld: The Dark Forest, the Town of the Dead, and the Plain of the Dead form this together. In line with classic mythology, one can walk right into the former two, though the Ring of True Seeing is needed to actually get on the same plain of existence as the inhabitants. And for two gold coins, the Plain of the Dead is open too, no matter how alive one is.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Here's to hoping brown cloaks make you think of adventure, because you'll be seeing a lot of NPCs utilize this sprite. The second most utilized sprite (by a long shot) is of a man holding a pitchfork, which is used by the Hungry Traveler (okay), the Gem Cutter (what?), and the Map Maker (come again?). The portraits fare a little better, although almost all of the undead use the same one as do Erek and the Blacksmith share another.

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