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ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CARTRIDGE Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 50%
  • Review Score:

  • C
Tabletop Dungeons & Dragons was a big deal back in the early 80s. Even now, it provides a multiplayer experience that is truly unique. It's really telling that even tough actors like Vin Diesel still take time out of their busy schedules for D&D. Translating that experience to a video game has seen mixed results over the years, from the absolute splendor of Neverwinter Nights to the appalling nightmare of Heroes of the Lance. The first licensed game on the Intellivision is right in the middle of that spectrum.

ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CARTRIDGE (titled this way as a requirement of the official licensing) has a relatively simple goal. The objective is to take the party of three adventurers to the Cloudy Mountain to obtain the ancient Crown of Kings. The journey involves cutting through multiple dungeons loaded with monsters. The dungeons are procedurally generated; they're different every time the game is restarted. The system itself serves as the Dungeonmaster and does an admirable job for the time.

ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CARTRIDGE (Intellivision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The visuals and audio are decent by Intellivision standards. There's a variety of monsters all with their own animation routines, and some of the appearances are rather creepy. The map draws itself as you play, again harkening back to the way tabletop D&D is played, and the effect works quite well. The main map is very impressively detailed for the time, actually looking quite like a lush forest should. The only real downside is the player character. I was hoping to see something besides the typical man sprite used in a lot of Intellivision games. The sound effects are very basic but get the job done.

Unfortunately, the minute-to-minute gameplay has not aged well at all. The controls in the dungeons are similar to Tron: Deadly Discs with the control disc handling the movement and the keypad controlling shooting in eight directions. The problem is that the enemies are much faster than you, and you start with only three arrows. More arrows can be found in the dungeons along with a few other tools, but that doesn't change the fact that the odds in battle are royally stacked against you. Also, the characters can't take much abuse. They can be killed in as little as two hits. They can even be wounded by arrows that ricochet. Two players can divide the moving and shooting duties, but that doesn't make the game much easier.

ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CARTRIDGE was a valiant attempt to bring the tabletop game to a console, but it just doesn't hold up that well today. It had some good ideas for the time, and it showed off what the Inellivision could do. However, the gameplay was just too frustrating too often. I definitely applaud its contribution to the history of video game RPGs; it's just as important to the genre as Adventure. However, while Adventure can still be enjoyed today, this D&D game is a relic that belongs in a museum.
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