Video game question from a total newbie

So I’m writing about medieval castles. I mentioned in my text that castles are very big in popular culture, which of course they are, and gave some examples from the world of books, which I know a lot about; from the world of movies, which I know something about; and from the world of video games, which I know essentially nothing about. I pulled the names of 3 castle-related video games from somewhere off the web: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion; Final Fantasy VI; and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and mentioned them as examples.

I will admit that these were sort of placeholders till the ms came back from editing, when I could sneak in some better examples if necessary. (I was over deadline. Bad Ulf!) But now the ms has come back, sooner than I expected. And my editor would like some more information. (Crumb!) In particular, she would like me to tell her which of these games, if any, involve:
–warriors trying to smash their way into a castle
–a treasure hunt that takes place in a castle
–some other adventure inside the castle

And as a total newbie I have no idea! If any of you gamers out there have any idea, I would sure appreciate knowing which (again, if any) is which–or if there are other video games involving castles that might be more familiar to readers (basically students), I would appreciate that too!

many many thanks, in advance.

There’s a super popular flash game called Crush the Castle where you fling stuff at castles and try to kill everyone inside.

The Elder Scrolls game you mentioned can have those things take place in a castle, although the castle and ownership of them is not the point of the game.

wiki link <-- You get to design your own castle in this territorial conquest game.

Super Mario Bros., despite dating to the mid-1980s, is still very well-known and is considered one of the archetypical examples of a platform game. The game involves rescuing a princess. Every fourth level takes place in a castle. Beating the first seven of these castle levels gives you the famous message “Thank you Mario, but our Princess is in another castle.”

Well, Return to Castle Wolfenstein mostly doesn’t take place in a castle, except for a few levels. You’re a WWII soldier fighting Nazis, zombies, and Nazi zombies. The titular castle is the headquarters of Nazi-zombie research. It only shows up in the first level, and the last few levels (when you return to it). The castle is riddled with hidden treasure rooms filled with Nazi gold, though, so there is a treasure hunt aspect to it, and it’s a pretty good game for running through a castle in a first-person perspective, albeit one that’s mostly filled with swastikas and Nazi super-science. This is a pretty good example for your paper, so long as the 20th century setting isn’t a problem.

The Elder Scrolls games are mostly Generic European Fantasy Setting games. They’re “open world,” which means they give you an entire countryside you can wander around in, populated by towns, villages, guard towers, dungeons, lairs, and, yes, castles. Castles are mostly places you go to get quests from the local lords, although, given the open world design, they can also be places you go to steal everything that isn’t nailed down, or to slaughter everything that moves, if that’s the sort of thing that strikes your fancy.

I haven’t played Final Fantasy VI, but my understanding is that it’s not a medieval fantasy setting, but more of a magic/steampunk thing. I’m not sure how much a role castles play in it.

For more directly castle-themed games… well, there’s always the Castles series of games, wherein the player designs and builds a series of castles, defends them from attackers, and uses them as his seat of government for resolving important plot points related to the governing of his realm. The castle design part of the game was fairly innovative at the time, but was limited by computing power and AI sophistication - the best castle designs in the game were, IIRC, utterly impractical as real-world designs.

There’s also the Total Wargames, two of which were set in medieval Europe, two in feudal Japan, one in Napoleonic Europe, and one (soon to be two) in ancient Rome. The Japanese and medieval European ones feature a lot of castle action. In these games, you’re ruler of a feudal state, and are trying to amass as large an empire as possible, through a mixture of diplomacy, espionage, and open combat. Mostly, open combat. Each region can have either a castle or a city in it, and conquering a region requires conquering the region’s capital city/castle. The sieges can be pretty detailed, include knocking down the walls with catapults or scaling them with ladders and siege towers, and the game puts you in the position of both attacking and defending, depending on how well the the strategic game is going for you.

Perhaps you should mention what is probably the most famous castle sim game series of all time: Stronghold.

In the Stronghold series, you not only typically have a castle, you must also build parts of it, manage its economy, create forces to defend it, or else siege an opponent’s castle. Quite good games, actually.

The Castlevania video game series centers on the Belmont family and their fight against Dracula. Numerous games have been made in this iconic series, so I’m not familiar with all of them, but the basic premise is that you force your way into (and through) Dracula’s castle and defeat him there.

There are three castles in Final Fantasy VI, IIRC. I don’t know how well they fit into what you’re trying to do, but here’s what I remember:

Figaro Castle: Imperial troops come to this castle to find a woman being sheltered there, and attempt to set it on fire, but unbeknownst to the soldiers, the castle can burrow underground and escapes unharmed.

Doma Castle: Imperial troops also attack this castle but are repelled. The empire eventually kills most of the occupants by poisoning the water supply.

Ancient Castle: A side quest involving the long-buried castle of a human queen who fell in love with an esper.

Yep–I was gonna mention this one. It’s definitely a classic.

It might be interesting to look at different kinds of castle games:

-Fantasy castles. Castlevania, Super Mario, etc. fit into this mold.
-Historical castles. Stronghold, etc. fit into this one. Assassin’s Creed also has historical castles in it.
-Modern and futurist games with castles. Wolfenstein would probably qualify here, as would a few other first person shooter games (Quake, Unreal, etc.).

With games, it’d be kind of neat to talk about the specific thing they symbolize, or rather the specific kind of challenge they present: generally a castle wall represents about boundary between zones and acts to narrow gameplay. You can do a lot of stuff on one side of the castle, and a lot on the other, but eventually you have to pass through a limited set of doorways in order to enter the castle, and the game designers can thereby limit player options without railroading the player.

Another game: Infinity Blade. I have it on iPad, not sure what all else it is for. Very simple game on its face: you walk through a castle, defeating somewhere between 6 and 10 enemies in 1-on-1 combat (depending on the route you choose) until you reach the boss. You either kill him or die, and start the process over again as the next generation of your bloodline.

And I was going to mention the Age of Empires series (specifically, AoE II), a real-time strategy game in which the castle is one of your buildings. Not quite what the OP was asking for, but I think that the castles in that game are still worth mentioning, since that is where you can recruit your unique unit, as well as being one of the few buildings capable of defending themselves from attackers. Within the game, building a castle is definitely a significant event.

Also, in Oblivion, I believe you start out the game locked inside the dungeon of the capitol city’s castle. Your very first adventure is tagging along with the Emperor as he and his guards attempt to flee the city through a secret passage located in your prison cell.

Beyond what has already been stated (such as Stronghold & the Total War series for “bunch of dudes on ladders having fun storming the High Middle Ages castle” ; or *Assassin’s Creed *for adventures in fanciful castle infiltration both in the Crusades era and the Italian Renaissance) I think both the *Tenchu *and *Thief *franchises are worth mentioning in the “treasure hunt” category.

*Tenchu *is obviously Japan-themed and the “treasure” being sought is more often than not a dude your ninja has to kill (avoiding or dispatching hapless guards along the way) ; but the Thief series is pretty much all about “explore location, grabbing every valuable you can find on your way to nicking the big ticket item”. Many levels take place in either bona fide medieval castles, or reinforced villas ; barricaded cathedrals ; fortified mansions and so on. The very first level of the first game, which is probably the most well known of the series since it’s both iconic of what the games set out to achieve and was the demo level for the game is set in a castle complete with secret passages hidden behind tapestries and the like.

In the storming category, you’ve also got Neverwinter Nights 2, a good part of which involves the player first shoring up a fortress over time, then defending it from Undead Hordes of Evil, first repulsing an assault on the walls with siege towers, then desperately defending the main gate after some shenanigans let it be wide open. It’s all very cliché, very Kingdom of Heaven, so that should fit your bill.
The Witcher 2 *also opens up with a pretty cool castle storming scene, first manning a ballista to shoot at defenders on the walls, then climbing up a siege tower and taking the first ring of walls, then some more fighting to breach through the interior courtyard, followed by a pretty grim depiction of what happens *after *a castle is breached: lootin’, rapin’, burnin’, wanton killin’ of civilians, all that good stuff.

Not sure any game of the Elder Scrolls series really matches what you seem to be writing however - they’re obviously set in relatively generic high fantasy settings (except Morrowind, which for all its alien-ness still has a couple of generic castles in it), which involves castles at some point but for the most part those castles are places you simply visit to meet the people living in them ; the actual adventuring you do mostly takes place in caves, grottoes, ruined underground dungeons, catacombs and so on.
Even those quests that do take place inside forts aren’t really representative of what you can see in movies or history books - usually it’s just a derelict place handfuls of bandits squat in, that sort of thing. Of course, the games being all about freedom nothing really stands in your way of one-man rampaging through King Whatshisname’s fancy palace :), but that’s not the main drive of the game.

Plenty of this happens in the Mount & Blade series.

Thanks so much! I had no idea there were so many, and that they had such a wide range. I kind of wish now that I had room for more of this info–but unfortunately this is all pretty tangential to the main topic, the reality of medieval castles, and we’re talking devoting only a part of one paragraph to video game castles in a much longer work. Still–this is great. I knew you guys’d come through :slight_smile: My editor will be pleased.

You could tie books films and games all together with Lord of the Rings. The game LoTR - Battle for Middle Earth includes the sieges of Helm’s Deep and Isengard.

There’s an old arcade game called Rampart where you build walls around a castle and, IIRC, defend it against either a naval bombardment or another player’s castle.

There is this old game which you can find on GOG - Castles 2. It comes with video documentaries on the different type of castles, their purpose and how they are built. It is also a game where you can design and build castles.

It’s a pretty old game, so yah, ever since we have video games we have been trying to get them to feature castles.

Thanks again to all those who have responded. Just a note that I resubmitted that section of the paragraph and the book has now gone into production–so I don’t need any more suggestions. But as before, thanks!

Post #5.

Just a quick note in case anyone does play Castles or Castles 2, there is a picture Miller linked to where a traitor who had previously lead an army against your castle is asking for forgiveness. Do not give him forgiveness, in fact in both Castles games anytime you’re faced with a situation where you can be merciful, don’t.

I haven’t played either of those games since the mid-90s, but I remember anytime you showed the least bit of mercy it came back to bite you in the ass. A peasant is poaching your forest, you can kill him, imprison him, or pardon him. First time I see it, being a progressive type I pardon him. Next thing…word comes in the peasant I had pardoned now leads a band of brigands. This escalates until they actually perform an all out assault on the castle.

Of course, the next game when the same scenario comes up (in Castles there’s a list of randomly occurring scenarios that aren’t too terribly different), I elect to put the peasant to death. He instantly escapes my custody and leads a rebellion against me. So sometimes you can’t really win in any case.