Here's one I can bang out quickly. Wizard Warz is not remotely a CRPG. I'll grant you that the interface looks vaguely CRPG-ish, but it doesn't have enough of the elements that make up a CRPG: no character creation, no development except the acquisition of an occasional new spell, no inventory (okay, no player-controlled inventory), action-based combat rather than tactical combat, no NPCs, and so on. Really, MobyGames needs to get its classification act together. Their own definition of "role-playing game" is: "any game for which character development is the main driving gameplay mechanic."
And yet, I'm going to count it as a CRPG and give it my six hours because I want to get to 50 games before my first anniversary (February 15), and with The Bard's Tale III coming up, I need all of the one-shots I can get.
The story is that you are a wizard's apprentice. As you approach your graduation, your master sets out the history of the land: it was once peaceful, prosperous, and generous, but an invading horde took advantage of that generosity and massacred the land's leaders at a banquet. The land's allies tried to sail to its rescue, but the invaders summoned seven powerful wizards to hold off the rescuers with evil summoned creatures. Now, decades later, the land is ruled by fear.
My quest will proceed in three stages: first, to slay all of the beasts of the island where I currently reside, using their trophies to convince the capital city to aid me; second, survive a series of challenges to ensure I am strong enough to face the seven wizards; third, travel to each of the seven wizards' castles and defeat them and their guardians.
Character creation consists of assigning a sex and choosing four out of 10 spells to put in my spellbook: fireball, wall of ice, icy blast, spit, wall of fire, rock shower, magic missile, wall of stone, and slow. The "wall" spells are defensive spells. Once you select the four spells, you are set loose on the island to kill the six evil beasts. The game window is rather tiny.
When you near the beasts, their portraits appear in the right side of the screen, growing more solid the closer they are. Once you run into them, the game switches to an arena where you engage in battle with the enemy. Curiously, although the beasts all look properly beastly in their portraits, they appear as the same little wizard in a cloak once you actually get into combat.
Combat consists of pointing towards them and firing your chosen spell. Certain spells work better against certain enemies, so it's best to have a good mix at the outset. The pointing and firing is a bit of a problem, though. The game was really meant for a joystick, and it's hard to be dexterous enough with the number pad (at least, for me) to hit your target, especially since the diagonal keys don't work. You can move diagonally by pressing two keys at once--for instance, 8 and 6 (up and right) moves you northeast--but needless to say this is a bit cumbersome.
You have three meters to watch: physical, spiritual, and mental energy. All of them are depleted by casting spells in their associated categories or by taking damage from spells in those categories. If any of them reach 0, you die. Physical energy is recharged by food, and you can transfer from either of the other categories to physical energy, but not the other way around. I had a lot of false starts and many deaths before I realized that the towns would give me food that I could use to survive in combat.
If you succeed in combat, you get some artifact from the creature. Turning in the artifact at the nearest town (there's nothing else you can do at the towns) rewards you with food, which, by increasing your physical energy, helps you win future battles. Once I realized that you could eat food in battle, I was able to defeat the six beasts: a spider, a monkey, a scorpion, a werewolf, a venus fly trap (or something like it), and some kind of water demon.
Phase 1 ended with an awesome cut scene:
In Phase 2, you choose what monsters you want to fight, and after you fight them, you choose whether you want a spell or attribute bonus. There are like 30 monsters and you have to beat them one at a time. I took a video of some of it.
There's no way to save a game of Wizard Warz in progress, so I assume the whole campaign, should you succeed, won't take more than a couple hours. The control problem will likely preclude me from winning the game, but I'll keep trying for another 2.5 hours. If you're reading this, you can assume that I didn't win, because if I do, I'll return and edit this before it posts.
I was doing fairly well until I fought a genie who had some spell that made me forget my spells. One-by-one they all disappeared from my spellbook, leaving me offenseless and, thus, useless. I had to essentially kill myself.
MobyGames's entry on Wizard Warz is interesting. For something that looks like a barely-noted shareware game, it sure was ported to a lot of platforms: Amiga, Amstrad, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, and ZX Spectrum. Was there really that much demand for a light CGA action game by 1987? (Pirates! was available!) The developer is listed as Canvas, which also developed Airborne Ranger (1988), a game I remember playing with great joy on my C64, and incidentally probably much more a CRPG than Wizard Warz.
One way or another, some game called The Ancient Land of Ys is next.