Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood


The 2D art is quite lovely to behold.

Men in tights frollock in Nottingham.

You’ll probably remember playing Spellbound’s Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive from 2001, a squad-level tactical game that owed its weight in gold to the Commandos series. Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood continues to travel on that same beaten path, but with an English medieval spin to it. Unfortunately, while Robin Hood isn’t a bad game, it doesn’t match up very well with Desperados, and it seems curiously flat and unimaginative, especially after the slick, over-the-top feel to Desperados.

Everybody you’d expect to be in the game is there, along with some extras, and each character has its own attacks used to dispatch or distract guards. Robin can deliver instant kills with his trusty bow but is hardly useful in a swordfight. Little John is strong enough to carry bodies out of sight, Maid Marian can heal, Will Scarlet can knock people out with his slingshot and Friar Tuck, when not swilling ale, can tie up and gaggle guards that are unconscious.

Just like Desperados and Commandos, in Robin Hood you spend a lot of time sneaking around and finding the best ways to dispatch enemies without stirring too much of a ruckus. You’ll always be facing overwhelming odds, and gameplay is usually a slow grind as you carefully knock, kill or distract your way into places you shouldn’t be in. Thank goodness for the saving option saving your hide from the unavoidable screw-ups that are expected to happen.

Spellbound also gave us a few extra distractions to enjoy, including random highway robberies that you partake in between story missions. You’ll also encounter more than a fair share of men and women willing to join you in your cause, to the point that you won’t be able to bring most of them with you. Nor will you want to, since you can leave some of your extra characters in your secret hideout in Sherwood crafting stuff that your squad can use later on. You can, for instance, have a guy work as a fletcher and Robin will have extra arrows on subsequent missions, or have another person sow nets, or create slingshot pellets. Eventually you’ll have a veritable medieval weapons factory running in the background.

Between missions you can have your men craft supplies and ammo for story missions.

Between missions you can have your men craft supplies and ammo in this cozy camp.

On the technical side, Robin Hood certainly has its ups. The isometric visuals are absolutely gorgeous, fielding some of the most lovely hand-crafted 2D art in any game of its kind. And while there is definitely some repetition between the missions, the variety of castles, keeps and medieval villages are a marvel to look at, day or night. Saving and loading has also been substantially improved since Desperados.

Robin Hood might be a point by point rehash of Desperados, but damn if it doesn’t have its moments. Fans of general squad-level combat games should feel right at home here.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 900 MB HDD, Win98

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