History of Druid and Druid II Enlightenment.

druid package covers

cover images copyright of respect owners.


These two games were developed and released in 1986 and 1987. They were top down shoot'em up games likened to 'Gauntlet' of arcade fame at the time. This was an inaccurate comparison, as Druid involved a bit more strategy than the well known arcade co-op. In fact there was a little known predecessor to Gauntlet called Dandy, which was more similar, but Druid was considered better in reviewer comparisons.

druid spectrum
Druid on the ZX spectrum
Druid was primarily developed for the Commodore 64 home computer, although ZX Spectrum, Atari 8-bit and Amstrad versions were ported for Druid and an Amiga version of Druid II.

8 Bit Tech

Some observations about the Commodore 64 should be made here, as it is now about 20 years old, and a lot readers may not be familiar with this iconic machine. Wikipedia has an entry (of course) , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_64 , but it should be noted that the 64 stands for 64K of RAM. In todays context that is less space than a single texture or bitmap in a current game. So when looking at 8 bit games in general remember that a lot of fun and gameplay was crafted into the same space an artist uses in a hour, or a musician uses in less than 3 seconds of compressed audio.

The Game

The main gameplay in Druid consisted of a top down, with a slight tilt, 8 directional scrolling colour (salespoint of the eighties) map. Our hero, the Druid in a blue cloak, ran in 8 directions shooting nasties when he came across them (which was all the time). He had a choice of three weapons (elemental based) and a few other tricks like invisibility and chaos bombs. These would be found on chests left lying around for some reason. The chest would hold several items, but the Druid could only choose one of them as the chests where booby trapped. This is where the deeper gameplay elements came in over that other game.

golem sprite

The most famous chest item was the Golem. Based on the folklore creature made from clay, this could be conjured up from the ground and it would go around bashing up the baddies, taking gradual damage till it died. The Golem could be controlled by either one of three commands (stop, go and follow) or by a second player. It has been stated in a developer interview that this is possibly the first co-op feature in a home video game.

The 8 levels of Druid started in a garden on top of an underground dungeon, which you progressed your way down through.

druid II c64
Druid II:Enlightenment on the Commodore 64


Druid II built on this universe with different Golem types, an outside world, and more of a storyline in the game progression. You started in a destroyed village full of the zombies of the previous tenants and progressed to find your way to a castle and destroy the skulls in it.

The Druid games reviewed very well, with it being the game of the month in most magazines, and getting 88% in Zapp64 ( definitive review magazine of the 80's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zzap!64 ).

More Reading

There is an excellent site that celebrates the publisher of these two titles, Firebird. It has articles for both Druid I and Druid II. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid_(video_game)

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