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Video Game / Knights of the Round

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Knights of the Round is a Beat 'em Up Arcade Game released by Capcom in 1991, and later ported to SNES in 1994. It was rerelased on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in two collections: the Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle in 2018, and Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium in 2022. Much as the name implies, it is loosely inspired by Arthurian Legend. The game is a rather straightforward Beat 'em Up with a level-up system which changes the clothing and looks of the characters and weapons, while increasing their strength and speed. Other game mechanics include the typical special move which drains life, a block action that grants a short invincibility after blocking an attack and the ability to mount horses found on certain stages.

The story starts out with young Arthur training and finally pulling down Excalibur in the Stone and thus becoming the King of England. However, most knights aren't pleased to find out they must follow this "boy king", and thus rebellion and war break out over the land. Arthur goes to Merlin for advice, and he reveals that only the Holy Grail has the power to unify the war-torn England under his rule. So, he and two of his best friends (Lancelot and Perceval) set out to find it, eventually discovering it is on the possession of an evil knight known as Garibaldi.

There are three playable characters:

  • Arthur, wielding Excalibur, a broadsword although one which evolves into more elaborate-looking weapons as he levels up. He's the most balanced out of the three, with average strength and speed. He starts out wearing leather armor and a red tunic, and as he level ups he gets more armor pieces, eventually ending in full-body armor. He has the unique ability of performing a slow but powerful slash attack.
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  • Lancelot, wielding a scimitar. He's a swordsman travelling all over the world looking for a worthy king to serve. He's the Fragile Speedster, fast but with weak attack and defense. Lancelot has long blond hair and wears a blue tunic, which is replaced by plate armor as he levels up. His unique ability is a quick jump kick.
  • Perceval, wielding a giant axe. Son of a blacksmith, Perceval is a Gentle Giant who's willing to help Arthur on his quest. He's also remained undefeated due to his great physique. He's the Mighty Glacier, powerful and durable but really slow, although his unique ability is a dash that can give him more mobility. The dash can also be cancelled into a powerful "Giant Swing" of his axe. He changes the most as he levels up, losing his blond hair and getting bald, plus growing a beard.

The enemy forces are comprised of:

  • Scorn, the First Challenge. A tall and skinny fully armored knight wielding a poleaxe. He has a tendency to laugh in the middle of the fight.
  • Braford, the Swordsmaster. A mounted knight who Dual Wields an arming sword and a shortsword, and is capable of shooting energy out of them.
  • Arlon, the Silver Emperor. Garibaldi's younger brother, who has taken over Castle Fort. He's a massive man wielding a spiked mace and spiked knuckleduster, and can create shockwaves by jump stomping.
  • Phantom, the Nightshade. A mysterious man with illusion techniques. He uses knives as well as trained eagles. He also owns and commands the Iron Golem, a giant armor puppet suspended by chains which has spiked balls as hands.
  • Balbars, the Hammer. Garibaldi's Advanced Guard and a massive armored behemoth wielding a big hammer. He has super armor (he doesn't flinch when hit) and a grab/pound move.
  • Muramasa, the Blood Armor. A Samurai who's somehow entered Garibaldi's service. He uses a katana, and can use fire magic to attack his enemies.
  • Garibaldi, the Golden Emperor. The Final Boss, a Palette Swap of his brother Arlon, albeit beefed-up considerably. He starts the fight mounted on a horse, and using Braford's energy blasts. In the second phase he removes his helmet and leaps off his horse, fighting like a harder version of Arlon from there.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Buster Drones in the section just before the Iron Golem. Whenever anything hits them, whether your blade or the ceiling spike balls, they'll blow up in a short-range flame scatter.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Where did a guy like Braford get a Blue Warhorse from?
  • Anachronism Stew: Many of the weapons and armor of several characters like the Red Shirt knights loyal to Arthur, Scorn, the "Bird Man" enemies, Phantom (and by extension the "Mask Man" and "Sky Walker" enemies),Muramasa, Arlon (and by extension Garibaldi), and Arthur after leveling up, would not be developed until several centuries after the time when the Arthurian legends were supposed to take place. Then again, the same could be said for the kind of tourney that takes up the first part of stage 4 (and more than a few French retellings of the Arthur legends).
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted with the Mad Tiger enemy, which when knocked into the air is revealed to have a sizeable pair of balls between its legs. In the SNES version, it bursts into flames the frame before it would have shown this.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The below-mentioned ability to divide up recovery and treasure items is a huge help in multiplayer, when more than one character may be in dire need of healing when you come upon food.
  • Arrows on Fire: It does not take long for the Barbarian mooks to start doing this.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Hitting a Treasure Chest/Bowl of Salad will divide it into smaller portions. What's even more bizarre is that the combined value of the portions is always greater than the whole, resulting in more points earned/health recovered.
  • Asteroids Monster: Rather than enemies, large treasures and food items can be split into by several smaller portions by hitting them. This is mainly used to share the spoils with your fellow player(s). There is some variance in the number of smaller items the larger ones can divide into, so you can end up with a set of smaller items with a greater or lesser combined value than the original item. On rare occasions, some items can turn into a powerful item after being hit instead of splitting.
  • Balance, Speed, Strength Trio: Arthur is the balance, Lancelot is the speed and Percival is the strength.
  • The Beast Master: Phantom.
  • BFS: The "Sword Man" mooks carry these.
  • Big Bad: Garibaldi.
  • Blade on a Stick: Scorn uses a long poleaxe. The "Fat Man" Mooks wield long spears with axe blades.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The arcade demo is specially hilarious.
    Merlin: ''"Only the holy grail can release this world from attain the chaos."
    • During the game's demo, the heroes' have one move written as "diffense".
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: Blocking an attack will make you invincible for a few seconds, allowing you to attack safely. However, blocking too early and for too long will make you tired. Bird Man and Metal Buster cannot be damaged if they have their shields up.
  • Boss Subtitles: All bosses are given one before battle, as seen above.
  • Carry a Big Stick:
    • Arlon and Garibaldi use spiked maces in tandem with spiked gauntlets.
    • Buster series enemies carry spiked clubs along with shields.
  • Cast from Hit Points: As was the norm back then with Beat'Em Ups, the "Mega Crush" drains some health if it connects.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Similarly to Final Fight, only up to three players can play simultaneously this time.
    • Arthur: Red
    • Lancelot: Blue
    • Percival: Green
  • Crossover: The three main and a few bosses appear as challengers in the quiz game Adventure Quiz: Capcom World 2.
  • Death from Above:
    • Muramasa can summon a rain of fire. Garibaldi does the same with blue flames before you unhorse him.
    • The Iron Golem can make either debris or barrels fall down when it hits the ground.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • Scorn appears later as a standard enemy named Tall Man. And he gets hit with this fast, showing up as an Elite Mook in only the third level.
    • The Phantom shows up again in the last level with a shorter life bar and minus most of his better tricks from the first battle, but he at least gets the dignity of being a proper miniboss.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: An oblique version occurs when Phantom's second group of escorts appears. Two of them are Sky Walkers, Mooks that look just like him—and these are a one-time case where even the colors are the same! However, they do not attack in the same fashion, their only special attack being to throw a dagger straight ahead.
  • Drop the Hammer: Balbars carries one that's bigger than most humans you see in the game.
  • Dual Wielding: Braford wields a shortsword-and-arming sword combo.
  • Dumb Muscle: Balbars.
  • The Emperor: Arlon and Garibaldi carry this title.
  • Easter Egg: Play close attention the names in the Ranking section, and you'll notice they spell: "Capcom CPS System Knights of the Round. Please challenge this game with friends! From Knights of the Round development staff to players. Thank you".
  • Evil Laugh: Scorn is quite prone to this.
  • Evolving Weapon: Arthur's presumably using Excalibur throughout the entire game, but the sword he wields gets gradually more elaborate the more levels he builds.
  • Fat Bastard:
    • The aptly named "Fat Man" Mook.
    • The Buster series of mooks encompassed both the "Fat" and the "Bastard" parts. They were portly soldiers armed with a spiked club, a shield and heavy armor. Not only are they more durable and aggressive than most other mooks, they employ more advanced combat techniques such as shielding your attacks then countering with a nasty jumping attack, riding horses and taunting after they kill you.
  • Fragile Speedster: Lancelot is the fastest of the knights, but also has the weakest defense.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: Your chosen character will get a spiffy set of gold armor when they reach a high enough level.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Birdmen and Buster enemies.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: The animation for Perceval's attacks extends further than the hitbox actually does, resulting in enemies having blows pass harmlessly through them.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: You regain health by eating assorted food.
  • It's Up to You: The ally soldiers that you see and have to rescue actually have an attack animation. The programmers ultimately decided that you should do most, if not all, of the fighting.
  • Large and in Charge: Both Garibaldi and Arlon are quite humongous. If they're bigger than Balbars isn't clear due him being completely covered in armor.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up
  • Long Song, Short Scene: This lovely piece of ear candy starts once a coin is inserted, but many won't hear it because the Start button is usually pressed immediately afterward.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Birdmen and Buster series enemies carry shields, so they can block your attacks.
  • Magic Knight: Garibaldi given that most any attack he does with his mace and gauntlet also throws projectiles, and while on his horse can call flames down on you.
  • Mechanical Monster: The Iron Golem boss Garibaldi sic on the knights, resembling a steampunk-style giant robot as large as the room it's in. And it can only be defeated by damaging it's core.
  • Me's a Crowd: Phantom can create four doubles of himself during battle.
  • Mighty Glacier: Perceval as already noted. Balbars, Arlon and Garibaldi as well.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: There are medieval England. No explanation is given.
  • Money Spider: Enemies will often drop treasure chests upon death.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Scorn has one, oddly enough.
  • Ninja: Phantom seems to invoke this combined with a stereotypical swashbuckler.
  • Palette Swap: Most Mooks, per the norm. Final Boss Garibaldi turns out to be a buffed-up, gold-swapped Arlon.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: The barbaric boss Balbars wears arm wrappings, boot coverings, a coat, and a hood made from the pelt of what appears to be a large bear-like creature.
  • Playing with Fire: Muramasa and Phantom make good use of fire magic. Garibaldi uses blue flames in his attacks.
  • Powered Armor: Arthur and Lancelot get covered in armor as they level up, Arthur ending up in a full-body gold armor, and Lancelot in full-body silver armor.
  • Power Up Mount: Horses that you can sometimes find, usually used by enemies, and can be ridden to do some extra damage or just to keep enemies from using them against you.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The Holy Grail (called the "Legendary Grail" in the SNES port) and Excalibur.
  • Race Lift: Bizarrely happens to Perceval in-game, starting off as a blonde-haired, clean-shaven Caucasian and, as he levels up, into a bald, bearded, Ambiguously Brown man.
  • Rare Candy: The scepter, which is an instant level up—as is the trope namer.
  • Red Baron: Every boss (except The Iron Golem, which is Justified as it's essentially treated as an extension of Phantom) gets introduced with nickname that relates to their theming in some way:
    • Scorn, The First Challenge: He is the first boss you fight, and his Worf Effect introduction where he defeats three heavily armored knights (one in the SNES version) with one strike shows that he will be a challenge compared to the generic Mooks you fought earlier.
    • Braford, The Sword Master: Dual wields two different kinds of swords (a shortsword and an arming sword) with great skill, showing that he is a master swordsman.
    • Arlon, The Silver Emperor: A Tin Tyrant wannabe monarch wearing fancy silver armor.
    • Phantom, The Nightshade : A Trickster fighter who uses mysterious and dark tactics and techniques in his fights, and is heavily associated with night and darkness.
    • Balbars, The Hammer: An enormous, heavily armored barbarian wielding an equally massive hammer, and even when he doesn't attack with the hammer he seems to prefer crushing and smashing attacks.
    • Muramasa, Blood Armor: A samurai wearing blood red armor, and is heavily associated with fire and the color red in general (this was changed to "Dark Armor" in the SNES version, possibly due to violence related issues due to the use of the word "blood").
    • Garibaldi, The Final Conflict: The Big Bad of the game and the Final Boss.
  • Red Shirt Army: Plenty of soldiers loyal to Arthur pop up throughout the game, usually to get killed almost immediately.
  • Royal Rapier: Phantom and the Mooks styled like him wield one.
  • Rule of Cool: It's hard to imagine how King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Sir Percival end up in Asia somewhere fighting a samurai warrior...but who cares? It's awesome!
  • Sadly Mythtaken: As usual in this type of setting, Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are one and the same.
  • Samurai: Muramasa.
  • Sinister Scimitar: Lancelot, albeit without the "sinister" part since he's one of the heroes. Played straight with the "Barbarian" enemies though.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Arlon and Garibaldi.
  • Shout-Out: Mainly to Excalibur: The three playable characters are main characters in the movie.
    • The intro scene depicts the driving of Excalibur into the ground/stone (rather than pulling it out). Uther did so in the movie to keep his enemies from having it. The depiction of the sword's blade, guard, and pommel even resembles the one in the film.
    • Merlin's appearance is also taken from the film, notably the shiny skull cap.
    • Arthur in his first few levels looked like how Nigel Terry appeared in leather armor at the time he pulled out the sword. The eventual beard also matched Arthur's character portrait.
    • The NPC knights in the game are colored with a silvery-blue hue like the Knights of the Round Table in the film.
    • The main antagonist Mordred wore gold armor. In the game, Garibaldi is a gold-armored Palette Swap Final Boss.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Perceval (which may count in itself) is consistently typo'd Parceval when he defeats a boss and during the ending.
  • Stab the Sky: The Victory Pose of all three heroes upon completing a stage. Also, the three heroes and a host of good knights do the same in the ending.
  • Storming the Castle: Both Stage 03 and 07.
  • Sword Beam: Braford and Garibaldi can do this.
  • Teleport Spam: The Magician Mooks.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: One of Phantom's attacks involves leaping straight up, then flinging a firebomb straight down as he begins to fall. The impact sends flames scattering in several directions. It's worth noting that if he lands on a slow flame, Phantom himself will be knocked down, although not hurt.
  • Tin Tyrant: Garibaldi. Arlon and Balbars look the part too.
  • Underwear of Power: About halfway through his level-up cycle, at the same time he shaves his head and grows a beard, Perceval starts wearing trunks too.
  • Unflinching Walk/No-Sell: Balbars has no stun animation.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: There are a few instances in certain stages where you find blue-armored knights being attacked by enemies (and will get killed if you leave them). Helping has them leave a treasure chest behind for you.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The whole game is one for Perceval, who doesn't get a shirt in any of his look-upgrades. He eventually loses the pants, too.
  • The Worf Effect: Scorn gets introduced by killing three allied knights at once in the arcade version, though it's reduced to just one in the SNES port.