1982: Year of the first ADV Dungeons & Dragons video game
When it comes to Dungeons & Dragons products, the tabletop games might be first to come to mind, but the brand has had more than its share of success with video games. Everyone has their favorites, from “Baldur’s Gate” this and “Neverwinter Nights” that, but those new to the franchise might not be familiar with some of the earlier digital efforts for D&D.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Video Games
Though not the first Dungeons & Dragons video game (that honor goes to “dnd,” created by Ray Wood and Gary Whisenhunt in 1974), the first such game to have the word “advanced” in the title would be 1982’s “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” for the Intellivision home console.
Later renamed “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain” to set it apart from a sequel game, 1983’s “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin,” this cartridge for the Intellivision was one of the earliest officially-licensed AD&D products from TSR, then the publisher of everything D&D.
The object of the game is to travel through woods, across rivers and under mountains to the final destination, Cloudy Mountain, where the player must face off against the infamous Winged Dragon in order to claim the Crown of Kings. There are two screens, a map for travel and underground mazes where most of the action happens.
To cross the rivers, the player needs a boat, and to traverse the woods, the player needs an ax, both of which can be found within the mazes under the mountains. Along the way the player must face off against spiders, snakes, demons, dragons and more. Unfortunately, the only weapon available to the player is a bow, and arrows are scarce and sometimes bounce back after hitting a wall. At least the player has three lives, and each life can usually take more than one blow, though the more powerful monsters, such as the demons and dragons, tend to land several attacks quickly.
Intellivision Had its Appeal at the Time!
By today’s standards this Intellivision game can seem quite primitive with its blocky, stick-like graphics, and it was by no means a true role playing game but an adventure game. However, it did bring some new flavor to home console gaming, especially with the bright colors, the complexity of the game, the inclusion of a fog of war, and its use of sound. In sound the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game stood apart from nearly all other console games at the time because it utilized sound as more than music or background noise and made it an important feature; for instance, a player could hear when a snake or a dragon was nearby, and other sounds alerted the player to other dangers.
As for actual game play, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is quite fun, especially figuring out all the different ways to cross the map and to take out enemies, but once mastered it is not a game one would want to play again and again except maybe every so often in a fit of nostalgia. For those not familiar with the Intellivision, the controls can take some getting used to, but experienced Intellivision fans are not likely to have any problems.
Programmed by Tom Loughry for Mattel Electronics, the makers of the Intellivision, the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game sported what was then a hefty 6K of ROM, the first Intellivision cartridge to contain more than the usual limit of 4K. Yes, this was back in the day when home video games came on cartridges.
For those who would like to experience a blast from the past or a return to their youthful glory days, this game is still available for play today under the title “Crown of Kings” on the Intellivision Flashback Classic Game Console, the Intellivision Lives package for Nintendo DS, and the Intellivision Lives disc for Playstation 2. The name change is probably for licensing purposes.
So keep those arrows flying, the dragons running, and whatever you do, remember to Stay Nerdy!