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Conan and Barbarians

Posted by THEPOGG on Oct 04, 2019

Net Entertainment’s release of the Conan slot is the perfect excuse for me to go back and revisit the original film and then take some time to ponder what the best barbarian themed slots ever released are.

Conan the Barbarian – Not for Kids

Re-watching the 1982 Conan the Barbarian film is a stark reminder that at one time fantasy did not necessarily mean family friendly entertainment. Rated a 15 by today’s standards you don’t need to have watched more than 20 minutes of the film before you have been subjected to a variety of brutal killings. In fact, within the first 6 minutes you’ll see Conan’s father cut through with a sword before he is mauled to death by a pack of rabid dogs, followed by this mother’s decapitation at the hands of an impressively mulleted James Earl Jones.

The scene where Conan’s mother is murdered is made worse by its lack of explicit gratuity. The camera focuses in on a 4ft Conan child holding his mother’s hand. Only her torso is visible with her soon to be emancipated head out of shot. You don’t see the divorce between head and shoulders until gravity plays its part, a moment made truly sickening by the accompanying thud as it lands on the ground in front of young Conan’s feet.

And it is not just violence that ensures “Conan” won’t be on your to-watch with the kids list. If flesh isn’t being hacked off in huge gelatinous chunks then it’s being oiled up and bared for Conan’s pleasure. The Barbarian’s lady friends are rarely of the shy and retiring variety and like all the best (or worst) barbarians he doesn’t shy away from numerous naked tumbles.

Becoming Conan

In the opening 10 minutes or so the film melds exposition and montage to thrust us from orphan, to slave, to gladiator, to trained warrior, before Conan is set free to become the character he needs to be to fight all the bad guys that come his way. We learn about the world he grows up in, one existing before Atlantis is sunk, where gods and magic come together to give us the heady dose of fantasy that we all tuned in to witness in the first place.

Within 1 minute, years pass, Conan spends his day pushing a giant wheel and turns from a skinny adolescent into a long haired Mr Universe. HE manages this without the buckets of protein that Schwarzenegger would have scoffed every day to become the man mountain he was known as in the 70s.

Arnie and Dialogue

Having said all that, in 1982 it was over 12 years since Arnie had been crowned Mr Universe. During that time he would take whatever roles were available before he got to be Conan. In fact, the Schwarzenegger that we see in 1982 is a bulked down version of the one that starred in films like “Hercules in New York” because that guy was too big wield a sword properly. Unlike actions stars like Stallone who to get bigger to fill the demand set in the 1980s, Arnie needed to downsize.

However, don’t go thinking that this meant he sat around all day waiting for his muscles to shrink. Schwarzenegger had to learn martial arts, how to use a sword, ride a horse and fall without causing injury from 15 feet up. There were no stunt doubles for the leading man in this movie, meaning that he required a different sort of physical fortitude to get through filming.

The character we get to know in the movie is a cross between the one written into the Robert E. Howard novels of the 1930s and the comic books of the 1970s. The original screenplay was written by Oliver Stone, but was changed significantly before it finally went into production in the early 80s. However, despite the re-write, time didn’t need to spent worrying about the quality of the dialogue because there was barely any in it.

Not having much to say in his films would define many of the roles that Schwarzenegger would embody in the early part of his career. I can’t find the exact numbers for the amount of words by Schwarzenegger in “Conan” but I do know that throughout its entirety he only speaks 5 words his main love interest: “You’re not a guard”, and “No”.

Yet, despite this dearth in chat the two do make a seemingly likely couple. Certainly, as likely a couple as you might expect given the circumstances that they both find themselves in. This is a world where actions speak far louder than words.

To overcome the barriers that exist in a film where your leading males says next to nothing the vast majority of the plot is propelled through a combination of action and the narrator’s voiceovers. You could argue that the use of the narrator is a way to avoid any nagging doubts that may have been lingering over Schwarzenegger’s ability to do so himself but I would also argue that he does a fairly impressive job of moving things forward himself without having to say all that much. This is a film where stuff needed to be done and the less time spent hanging around talking about it the better.

The importance placed on physicality can be seen through the casting of Sandahl Bergman as Conan’s main love interest. She wasn’t chosen for her previous acting experience but for her previous dancing experience. The way that she moved was more important than just about anything else, something she excelled at so much that she won a Golden Globe that year for her portrayal of Valeria.

It is easy to dismiss Conan the Barbarian as steaming pile of oiled muscle. The mullets are awful, there is next to no dialogue and Conan’s transformation into the barbarian seems more than a little unlikely. The bad guys are caricatures of bad guys and it lacks the sophistication of a modern-day fantasy film. And let’s not forget that at one point in the film Conan rips the throat from some sort of a bird of prey using nothing but his teeth midway through his own crucifixion.

None of that can be argued with but what epic fantasy movie isn’t ridiculous in its own little way? The story is huge, the action sequences are sweeping and other than a dodgy snake and a flimsy ghost there is nothing about the production that I can think to criticise. This is as good as fantasy had got to in 1982 and where it went in 1984 was truly disastrous. “Conan the Destroyer” is best forgotten and laid to rest as the cash cow that it was. All the visceral barbarity in the first film gone in an attempt get more bums in cinema chairs, a sin that would see the ruin of more than just one franchise in the 1980s.

Top 10 Barbarian Slots

We’ve done the Top 10 Viking Themed slots before and whilst this will be a different list there is naturally going to be some substantial cross-over. To meet this brief the slots I will be including will be linked to the barbarian theme. Anything swords and under-current of mindless violence should be enough to make it onto this list.

Conan

This slot had to be the first one mentioned. It is as hot off the press as it is possible to be and ticks so many of our boxes that I would consider it to be one of the best releases in September 2019. The slot looks incredible and you get the choice of which Free Spins feature you want to play. Add to that a few random features and a reasonable house edge and you are only a bonus game away from perfection.

Play the slot here for free

Vikings

I am not quite ready to wave Net Entertainment goodbye just yet. From the moment you start this slot up you realise that you are involved in one of Net Entertainment’s labours of love. The opening sequence is dark and broody, with just enough falling snow to suggest winter has been or is on its way. This slot is similar to the Conan slot, in that it is missing that little something extra to make it a truly excellent slot experience.

Play the slot here for free

Vikings Go to Hell

Vikings Go to Hell, the place that all barbarians are headed if they’re been doing their job properly. Another slot with an impressive opening sequence means that Yggdrasil are more than capable of holding their own against the might of Net Entertainment. The game itself looks just as impressive and the features available are varied and engaging. There really is nothing to criticise here, hence the 10 out 10 it received from us last year.

Play the slot here for free

Warlords: Crystals of Power

Warlords: Crystal of Powers has appeared in a few lists before and in this instance you can thank the bearded barbarian looking chap with the axe his hands and murder in his eyes. The slot, another Net Entertainment slot, looks stunning and there are plenty of bonus features to keep you coming back for more spins.

Play the slot here for free

Hall of the Mountain King

Quickspin’s Hall of the Mountain King is about a troll who lives in a mountain that no one messes with. Violence doesn’t get much more barbaric than the sort dished out by angry trolls. The best thing about this slot is obviously how good it looks, followed closely by a set of complex and engaging Free Spins that come with all the bells and whistles expected from a slot that would find its way onto one of our lists.

Play the slot here for free

Vikings Go Berzerk

If Vikings go to Hell fits the Barbarian bill then this one smashes the bill to lots of tiny little pieces. Yggdrasil again smack us with a stunning looking slot and an opening sequence that will blow your socks off. This slot has everything that we would want it to have, from excellent features to stunning design.

Play the slot here for free

Champions of Rome

Champions of Rome might not appear to be a slot about barbarians but nothing could be further from the truth. Like Conan, the barbarians in this slot are forced to fight for the entertainment of others. Then begs the question, who are the real barbarians? The civilised Romans who performed acts of barbarity across the entire known world and then wrote all our history books, or the roaming tribes of Celts and the Gaels who tried to stand up to them? Anyway, this isn’t a history lesson, it is a list of slot games and this Yggdrasil one has everything you could ask for and a little more.

Play the slot here for free

Trolls Bridge

Not only is it time for yet another Yggdrasil slot list but it is time for another slot about trolls. I have already explained why trolls should be considered in the same light as barbarians but in this case can do so whilst enjoying the cartoon aesthetic that this slot brings. At the time I reviewed this I think I might have been a little harsh, mainly because it was following on the heels of some truly amazing Yggdrasil slots. In hindsight, you get Free Spins and a bonus and your Free Spins come with additional features, none of which should be sniffed at. It has been rumoured that we are due to get a second edition of this slot, at which point I might have to reassess how cruel my evaluation of trolls has been.

Play the slot here for free

Vikings go Wild

I am going to keep this one short because I don’t have to add to what I have said about the other Viking slots on this list. This is the one that started the Yggdrasil Viking obsession and as such could be considered the most important of the lot.

Play the slot here for free

Game of Gladiators

I know I am not meant to say negative things about slots on this list but Game of Gladiators is essentially a poor man’s Champions of Rome. This Play ‘n Go slot has a lot in common with the Yggdrasil one already mentioned, it is just that everything it has it not quite as good as the aforementioned. However, this is still a quality slot, we gave it 8 out of 10 and I would still recommend you give it shot.

Play the slot here for free

Conclusions

If I have learned anything whilst making this list it would be that the most barbaric slot designers out there are the team over at Yggdrasil. Whilst there is much more to them than slots with sword or hammer wielding lunatics, that still forms a decent portion of their slot games, something I am keen to see much more of in the future.

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