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Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Cartridge

The first official D&D-licensed game to appear on a console and the third made by Mattel overall, with the first two being an electronic board game and a handheld LCD game.  Some sources I've seen (including Wikipedia) also give it the subtitle "Cloudy Mountain", though as far as I can tell this was never included on any actual printings of the game.  As one would expect of an early '80s game console it's not too much to look at and the core gameplay is rather basic arcadey fare.  AD&DC has a fair degree of depth and complexity for its time, however - there are algorithms in play to randomly generate dungeons and the world map, so the experience is a bit different each time you play it.  Several monsters hinder you in the dungeons, each with a distinct audio cue and taking varying numbers of arrows to kill - a lowly rat, bat or spider takes only a single arrow, while tougher monsters like demons and dragons can take two or three (and one, the slime blob, cannot be killed at all).  Your arrows can also ricochet off walls to damage enemies around corners, which comes in handy for dealing with the faster, deadlier critters that can quickly overtake you, though they can also harm you if you don't aim carefully.  In fact, it's often a good idea to take blind shots into rooms or around corners if you hear a dangerous enemy's audio cue, so this can be considered a crude stealth mechanic.  Other twists include having to find keys to open gates, axes to chop down trees, boats to cross rivers, and your ultimate goal once you reach Cloudy Mountain is to find two halves of a crown, each guarded by a winged dragon, which wins the game.  There are also four difficulty settings, though the only major difference between them is that you find fewer arrows in quivers and monsters move slightly faster with each step up.  A simple, but nevertheless fun game that should provide a few minutes of entertainment to die-hard D&D fans and/or retro game enthusiasts.

Developer: Mattel Electronics
Publisher: Mattel Electronics
Released: 1982
Platforms: Intellivision