Civilisation in the ancient world was always under threat from outsiders who. though primitive, coveted the riches that their more advanced neighbours amassed. Disorganised tribesmen were usually no match for the heavily-defended cities and their shrewd generals, but, on rare occasions, a gifted individual would unite the warriors and rouse them to a common purpose. Then, the kings, the patriarchs, the farmers and the merchants would have cause to tremble before the approach of the Barbarians!

Barbarians is a game of strategy for one player, running on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. You take the lead of a civilised league of twelve cities at the very time the barbarians are entering the land. Your task is to raise armies and send them against the advancing hordes, and you will not rest until every last one is wiped out. While this is going on, you have to manage your empire's economy.

Every game is different. A map is generated at random, and your empire might be inland, on the coast, an isthmus or a peninsula, or it might instead be on an island. You may rule over flat, featureless plains, or mountainous or heavily wooded areas. The terrain of your country will dictate the availability of resources and the economics of your campaign. You'll need to trade for resources that your empire lacks.

Released 24th December 2012

Game News

Play Cyningstan Games On-line (24 Mar 13): A new feature has been added to the Cyningstan web site. Our games can now be played here on-line, right in your desktop web browser! On each game's own page there is a new panel, in which an embedded Spectrum emulator now loads the game for you and allows you to try it out without any download or game installation necessary. (read more...)

The Barbarians are here! (24 Dec 12): Thanks to the kind efforts of the game's beta testers, the game is now ready for release on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Get it from the downloads section of the game's own web page, and look out for its addition to the popular web site (read more...)

Play On-line

Click here to play on-line version courtesy of qaop, a Spectrum emulator for Java. Performance may differ from a real ZX Spectrum or an emulator running on your device. Ctrl and cursor keys act as a kempston joystick.

More Information

Barbarians runs on all Sinclair ZX Spectrums and their Amstrad successors, from the Sinclair 16K model to the 128K Amstrad +3. Saving games requires a cassette deck. Barbarians is incompatible with some hardware devices that reserve areas of the Spectrum's memory for their own use: see the instruction sheet for details.

Load the game with the command:


When the game starts, you will can select your control method: keyboard or Kempston joystick. The keys for the game are: A - fire, S - up, X - down, N - left, M - right.

You can hold down FIRE to bring up the menu. Use LEFT and RIGHT to move through the options, and release FIRE to select.

During development of this game, I received helpful advice in Martijn van der Heide's World of Spectrum forums from members Winston, Battle Bunny, Einar Saukas and dbolli. I was helped in testing this game by Ricky Walker, Rob Wilson and World of Spectrum forum members judasEZT, deadpan666, IvanZX and jp. My thanks go to all of these people.

Screen Shots

The loading screen

Choosing the difficulty

Looking at city details

See our military strength!

Advancing along the coast

Can we contain them?

Protecting mountainous land

An invasion on the plains

Recruiting new troops

They've ruined our city!

Selling excess resources

Finally, we beat them!

Files to Download


The tape file for Spectrum emulators. This can be loaded into any modern emulator, or converted to a WAV file for recording on a real tape using utiltities available at


The instruction sheet, formatted as an insert for a cassette case. Fold it concertina-style along the column gaps, and then in half lengthways. It may need a bit of trimming then to fit snugly and allow the cassette case to close.

The source code, with assembly instructions.


The cassette inlay for those who want to put Barbarians on a tape for playing on a real Spectrum. This should be printed 4 inches (102mm) high. Either cut out the cassette holes, or trim that whole section away if the back of your case is not transparent.


The cassette label for those who want to put Barbarians on a tape for playing on a real Spectrum. This should be 3.5 inches (89mm) wide.