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Conan : Hall of Volta

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Apple II

Publisher: Datasoft

Developer: Eric Parker and Eric Robinson

Admittedly (taking my rose-coloured shades off for just one moment) there weren’t too many games the Apple II could claim superiority over its 8-bit counterparts – and I’m an unabashed fanboy. In the case of Conan : Hall of Volta though, I shall thrust my sword down into the ground (narrowly missing my feet) and fight to the death anyone proclaiming otherwise with this classic platformer, because in my opinion it usurps the position of King of Conan Versions, easily besting all other upstarts (although if memory serves me correctly I’ve actually only ever seen the C64 conversion).

You knew you were in for something special after seeing the brilliantly animated horse-riding Conan on the title screen (note: MISSING IN THE C64 VERSION!) and seeing the sword being thrust into the letters ‘Conan’ : this alone was something else on the Apple (and took up a whole side of a disk as you had to flip straight afterwards).

The aim of the game according to the handy introduction screen is to “Destroy Volta. Beware of his minions, collect keys and gems to your advantage”, and you’re off on your own with just your trusty boomerang-sword and a pair of leopard-hide underpants (with matching boots). With the ability to do an infinite amount of somersaults Conan most certainly needs every bit of his dexterity to leap from treetops, climb and descend huge ladders, traverse molten-laden caverns, and tackle all sorts of crawling and flying things lovingly sent forth by Volta himself, over 7 challenging and extremely well-designed levels – difficult, but absorbing enough to keep the younger version of me occupied for large chunks of the school holidays.

So I think I shall try just one more time to complete what I never could some decades before. Although if my reflexes have dimmed to any degree it may indeed be some weeks before I leave my study and see sunlight once again.