Top 100 SNES Review: #67 – Knights of the Round (1991)

Life Should Come With Difficulty Settings.

A quick change in the options menu makes the difference.

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #67/100
Developer: Capcom
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Life can be harsh. This current clinical rotation I’m at is pretty hard for me: I’m treating patients I’m not used to with a very strict clinical instructor while working lots of hours. When Friday night rolls around, I don’t want to have to deal with “Very Hard” or “Normal.” I just want to have some mindless fun, an easy excursion for the mind, body and soul.

Thankfully, Knights of the Round makes that a real possibility. Grabbing an extra controller, a friend, and setting difficulty the to “Easy” was the perfect way to start my weekend.

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The Reality: The stories about King Aurthur, Sir Lancelot and Perceival are complex and innumerable. There may have been as many as 150 Knights of the Round, and their stories deal with uniting Britain, the Sword in the Stone of Excalibur, or obtaining the Holy Grail. Whether Aurthur was a true historical figure or just a literary confabulation is still debated today.

The Game: King Authur and his buddies need to kick some ass. Oh, and we forgot to use any sound during the intro and title screen. Oops.

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Have you ever had a dumb friend? You know, the type of person that doesn’t know his alphabet or struggles with School House Rock multiplication tables? Those friends tend to be loyal and reliable — exactly like Knights of the Round. 

There is nothing tricky or complex here; you show up and smash A until everything turns out all right. No puzzles, no problems. Some of the bosses will occasionally make you recognize up to three attack patterns, but if you can remember the steps to unlock a door, you should be able to get this down pat, too.

That doesn’t make this game easy mind you. Playing this game on normal was a guarantee to peter out before the ending. There are seven stages, each ending with a boss. After dealing with hoards of enemies, it was easy to slowly get worn down and not complete the Authurian legend. After a couple attempts, we set the game to easy and were able to fulfill our folklore destiny.

There is an attempt to insert an RPG element into the game, but as far as we could tell, it only updated your sartorial prowess. “Damn Lancelot! Those shoulder pads makin’ you look swoll!” There is also a timer that starts every stage, but it is so grossly inaccurate for how long it will take you to complete the level it doesn’t matter.

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Why is Buster followed by a period? Is it short hand for something longer? And what does the S stand for?


Video games have always been filled with things that don’t make sense. The difference is how people have approached it over time. New games try and force all the pieces together to make it work. Kingdom Hearts III was just released, and there is an endless amount of chatter about how 13 hours of cutscenes still doesn’t remedy the situation. Old games didn’t have the space to try and explain their non-sequiturs — they just did them. 

Take for instance this major concept in Knights of the Round: any item can be divided into several pieces which creates more abundance than the whole. You can cut a treasure chest into multiple pieces, and collecting the multiple pieces garners you more experience than if you just took the entire treasure chest. The same goes for food — nothing like splitting up a tasty salad into portion controlled sizes that give you more HP than eating the entire thing.

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To have meaning in life, you have to take on responsibility. While it seems fun to live a life full of frolick, it is hard to maintain. We like to cut our teeth into challenging tasks, and this explains much of the human spirit. The other side of the coin is we all need time to rest, and not everything in life has to mimic a Sisyphean task. On this night, we chose to take it easy, and that might be the best way to enjoy Knights of the Round. 

Other People’s Takes: 

  • Talking Comics: “As a recent player, I found however, that it has plenty of merit to be looked at a second time. In fact, perhaps controversially, I see it as a classic Capcom title.
  • Games Revisited: “Basically, this is 16bit Dark Souls and I love it.”
  • Cousin Gaming: “Out of all the side scrolling beat em ups, we have played this one has to be one of the best if not the best.”

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