Braminar is a CRPG the way that the home movies your dad made are "cinema." They might be interesting, but you wouldn't expect to find them cataloged on IMDB. Braminar's inclusion on MobyGames's list of CRPGs stretches the definition of the term to its utmost limits.
Braminar might be the oddest game I've played since starting this blog. First, it's all text. The short documentation that comes with it describes it as a "Boolean interactive fiction" game. The author seems to have gotten sick of traditional Infocom-style interactive fiction (like Beyond Zork, from which I took a break to play Braminar) in which you have to remember (and in some cases divine) the right verb/object combo to use. So he offered a game in which all of your choices boiled down to "yes" or "no" or a selection from a very limited list.
The action takes place in the titular land, "a magical kingdom plagued by an evil overlord," who has "raised taxes, enslaved villages, and outlawed hamburgers." You play a young male or female warrior raising an army and developing experience so you can challenge the overlord. Character creation consists only of giving yourself a name and sex; the game randomly generates everything else, including your hair color and whether you have "good looks" or not!
Then the action begins, and boy is it relentless. The game simply throws one encounter after another at you:
- You come up to a thicket in the woods. Enter? (Y/N)
- You come upon the Dark Castle of the Mad King. Enter? (Y/N)
- The statue of Pan suddenly animates and asks you the following riddle: Why does Pan play the flute? 1 - His sax is broke; 2 - His tube is broke; 3 - 'cause it's there. Choose (1,2,3) (I guessed that one right as #3 and was given "the prime command is GOMDC")
- You come upon a flowing river. Gaze into it? (Y/N)
- Things seem strangely quiet when out of nowhere jumps a band of demons. They look grumpy. The say they will let you pass if ou give them 2 male slaves, 5 female slaves, 6 gold pieces, or you may fight their champ and win their horde. Do you wish to (f)ight, (g)ive, or (r)un?
- While you are walking along, the weather suddenly changes. A tidal wave comes. Will you take shelter? (Y/N)
If you successfully navigate these--and winning battles is entirely due to chance; you play no role in the combat--you slowly gain levels, gold, and slaves. Yes, slaves. I don't really know what they're about, but the game keeps track of how many male and female slaves you own. You need to keep up a food supply to feed them and medicine for when they get sick. I guess you're ultimately using them as soldiers in the final battle. The goal is to get to Level 20, find the Staff of the Aviatar, and confront the mad overlord in his castle.
Here's an encounter that anticipates the button-pushing-sequence "quick time" challenges of a lot of X-box adventure games by more than 20 years: "You spot a large chest of gold at the throne. Press: 1 / = \ H keys in that sequence to simulate grabbing gold and putting it in a bag. A mis-typed key = dropped gold. Don't make too much noise, or the king will hear you and enter the room!"
I stole food from a gnome and got knocked down a level by my deity. I entered a gypsy camp and engaged in a stabbing-a-dagger-between-the-fingers game and lost. A fortune teller told me "enter no dungeon without a dagger." I ordered a drink at a tavern, realized it was poisoned, held on to it, and used it in a battle against demons to win automatically. I lost dozens of slaves to starvation when my food supplies ran out. I refused to steal from a tree and got the Talisman of Braminar for being a good person. I was ambushed by a troglodyte at a river, but I defeated him in combat and acquired his gold and slaves. I entered a hut in the woods, was attacked by the evil wizard Anthrax, but instantly vaporized him with a ring on my finger. In a river, I had a vision of a deity giving me a box of "Duncin' Donuts" [sic]. And so on, through a couple of dozen such encounters (a few of which repeated). Finally, I died at the hands of some drow elves.
The game offers no way to save, so when you die, you simply have to start over and try again.
Braminar is an interesting curio, published by a shareware company named PC-SIG that apparently went defunct in the early 1990s after publishing half a dozen titles. I'm guessing that whoever included it in the MobyGames RPG list would say that its inventory and statistics qualify it as an RPG. My problem is that it's not even really a "game." If Braminar was Super Mario Brothers, you'd get a question at the beginning saying "Do you want to try to rescue the princess? (Y/N)," and you'd say "Y" and watch the computer play the game in front of you.
I should probably exclude shareware titles from my list, but honestly, it didn't take me long to play, and it didn't take you long to read it, right? I give it a 9/100 on the GIMLET scale (it's not even worth explaining why). I'm going to hit Beyond Zork for a few more hours and then see about Dungeon Master.
One more WTF screen shot, though (y'all realize you can click on these to enlarge, right?):