Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quest for Glory II: Trial by Everything Else

The poet "Omar" recounts my victories against the elementals.

Quest for Glory II proceeds at such a leisurely pace, it's a bit like being on that vacation that the Katta promised me when they brought me to Shapeir in the first place. I defeated the Fire Elemental on Day 5 and hit the road for Raseir on Day 17, and in between, there were only a handful of scripted events, and a whole lot of me running around doing random things while I waited for them.

Occasionally, messages like this would alert me to things I needed to accomplish.

This structure has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, there's so much padding around the plot events that you'd have to screw up pretty badly to miss key elements and not achieve a perfect score. You can also spend a lot of time building your character and improving various skills (though this is of dubious importance for this game). On the negative side, it gets a bit boring at times, and you feel like you burn a lot of game time just running around making sure that you haven't missed anything.

Every day, I would get up and visit each of the key locations and NPCs, and make sure nothing new appeared and no one had anything new to say. If an elemental was attacking the town or some other plot event came up, I usually dealt with it quickly. Either way, I typically had the bulk of those 12 days to spend however I wanted. This might include:

  • Going to the Adventurer's Guild and practicing with Uhura.

Woman, please. I was "too good for you" by Day 3.

  • Heading out into the desert and fighting random creatures, taking care not to kill them all outright, but using the combats to practice spells, dodging, and parrying before finally dispatching them.
  • Finding a nice quiet place to cast spells over and over to improve my spell skills and overall magic score.
  • Re-talking with most NPCs, using the occasion to make sure I hadn't missed any major dialogue options, and also saying THANK YOU a lot (plus giving gold to the beggar) to improve my Honor rating.

It turns out that Rakeesh used to be the king of Tarna, but he gave the throne to his brother when he was lamed in battle against a demon.

The game does offer some options for speeding up these "in between" times. First, you can always go back to the inn and sleep the day away, but this is only a good option for players who have already won the game or who are using a walkthrough, lest you sleep through an elemental attack or some important message. Second, you can increase the "Game Time Scale" so that morning, afternoon, and evening come much faster. Finally, you can increase "Animation Speed" so you move through the game much faster (irrespective of the clock). They're all welcome options, but for me they didn't fully remove the sense that the game was dithering a bit.

I'll cover what I accomplished during these 12 days in several sections.


I continue to like the development system in the Quest for Glory series, by which skills, attributes, and spell powers increase through use and exercise. Several games do this, but Quest for Glory manages to make it so damned satisfying, especially where you can call up your character sheet and see the improved skills annotated in a different color.

The results of a lot of grinding.

Last post, I indicated that I thought the combat system had improved since the first game, with three attack, parry, and dodge options (each) depending on the type of enemy and direction of attack. An anonymous commenter disagreed, saying that "the fastest and most effective way is just to smash [the] attack button as fast as you can." Corey Cole, the guy who actually wrote the program, disagreed, noting that dodging and parrying does not deplete stamina and increases the chance that your next attack will hit. He suggested that mashing "attack" is not, in fact, the best way.

They're both right. In the early game, when your weapon skill and attributes aren't particularly high, defending is a good strategy, primarily because it makes the occasional attack far more powerful. Once you have more than 125 strength and weapon skill, however, I've found that simply mashing the attack button is a near flawless key to victory, keeping the enemy on the ropes and slaying them before they can seriously counter. Most of the defending I've done since the Fire Elemental has been to practice those skills, not because I needed them.

I quickly dispatch a scorpion with the 7, 8, and 9 keys on the keyboard.
The mage, it turns out, is also a pretty lousy combatant if he relies on magic. Even at high levels, "Flame Dart" and "Force Bolt" under-perform dagger attacks, and I never found that "Dazzle" or "Calm" were doing anything useful. "Zap" had a non-zero but also somewhat limited effect on the power of dagger attacks.
Then again, I suppose you could argue that if I was really role-playing a mage, I'd stay out of combat. It's barely necessary in this game at all--useful only for gold (which you hardly need) and getting past the occasional (very rare) enemy who appears while you're going between desert locations. In the first game, even mages needed to sell troll's beard and cheetaur claws to the healer to achieve a perfect score; in this one, selling ghoul claws and scorpions' tails yields nothing but (mostly unneeded) cash.

Very quickly, I got to the point where my dagger-wielding mage could defeat large packs of jackalmen without breaking a sweat. Screw you, Blogger spellcheck. "Jackalmen" is a word.

Opportunities for grinding vary among skills. You can improve most spells (and overall magic) just by casting them anywhere, whether you have a legitimate purpose or not. "Open" and "Fetch" increase even when cast on blank walls and "Calm" and "Dazzle" go up even when you're the only one on the screen. On the other hand, to cast "Levitate" at all, you have to be at a place where it makes sense to levitate, such as next to the griffon's cliff or an open window in the city.

In grinding, I neglected "Throwing" mostly because I forgot about it, and I never found any place to grind "Climbing." Again, they're not mage skills, so I don't feel crippled for this deficiency.

Messing Around

I thought you could only reach Raseir (Shapeir's sister city) through plot developments, but an anonymous commenter insisted that you could ride your saurus there, and commenter Joe Pranevich supplied the directions. Even so, it took so long that I was prepared to accuse Joe of trolling me. But with plenty of waterskins and the "Animation Speed" cranked up to maximum, I eventually blew through the 200+ screens necessary to reach the other city, fighting lots of combats along the way.

Wow. It actually exists!

When I finally got there, the guards refused to let me in because I didn't have a visa, and they didn't take kindly to my attempt to bribe.

Fortunately, my faithful saurus remained with me and instantly returned to Shapeir with GO HOME. Handy, that.

A few other discoveries:

  • Centimes (worth only 1/100 of a gold dinar) were so overloading me that I had to spend some time getting rid of them. The game lets you DROP or GIVE them to the beggar only one at a time, so clearly that wasn't going to do when I had like 1200 of them. Finally, I found that if I BARGAINed with the food merchants, they'd sell me 5 rations for 90 centimes. I did this like 10 times, then dropped all the excess rations.

Note how overloaded I am. All those centimes make up 12 of those excess pounds.

  • In general, the economy is broken in this game. The first Quest for Glory ended before you could get so rich that healing and mana potions were no longer a good investment. In this game, I never had to save up for anything, and I ended with over 500 dinars even though I stopped bothering to collect them from slain enemies by the halfway mark. Health, mana, and vigor pills are nice, but you don't need that many of them. The one thing that I thought I was "saving" for--the pin "fit for a Sultan"--turned out to be a red herring. The game ultimately wouldn't let me buy it but instead awarded it to me as a gift.

What am I supposed to do with these dinars now? TAKE MY MONEY!

  • I never found a use for the poison cure pills. Scorpions did damage to me and sometimes killed me with special attacks, but they never poisoned me.
  • Every morning and every evening, you can sit down in the inn and get a home-cooked meal from Shema. Not only does this save on rations, the meals sound absolutely delicious. I don't think I've ever seen food so well-described in a game.

I think I might head to the local Lebanese place tonight.

  • You cannot re-visit WIT after passing the initiation.

Dammit, I want to ASK ABOUT AD AVIS.

The Actual Plot

Here's what happened in the game's main quest. To recap previous events, Dark Magic is threatening Shapeir. The Emir of its sister city, Raseir, vanished after he was deposed in a coup, and the new authoritarian government has expelled the Katta and instituted martial law. In Shapeir, elementals have started to appear and attack the city. I defeated the first one, the Fire Elemental, on Day 5, as recounted in the last entry.

On Day 7, Omar the poet appeared in the Plaza of the Fountain and recited a moving verse about paladins:

I'm not sure the first half really goes with the typical paladin's "lawful" alignment.

When he left, he accidentally left his leather coin purse behind. I picked it up and returned it to him when he performed in the Katta's Tail Inn on Day 11. Given that I had about 600 dinars at that point, there was absolutely zero temptation to steal it.

The Air Elemental appeared on Day 8, and when it did, it occurred to me that unlike every other elemental, I didn't know what to do to weaken or capture it.

Do you remember when we were really humming?

Swallowing my disgust, I visited Keapon Laffin again and through a bunch of idiotic verse and puns, discerned that I needed something related to dirt or mud to weaken it. He sold me a pot of "Fooler's Earth" that would do the trick. At the same time, he indicated that the Dervish in the desert was in need of a hero--more on that below.

That left the need for something to capture it in. I figured my waterskin would do for the Water Elemental and an empty pot for the Earth Elemental (though I was wrong about that), but I had no idea on the Air Elemental. I wandered around the city for a while, talking to people, before I finally saw the solution above the door of the blacksmith's shop:

I had to wait until nightfall, but a "Fetch" spell soon had it in my hands.

I went back to the Palace Plaza, where the Air Elemental was hanging around, and set about defeating it. It took a lot of tries. Throwing the pot of dirt at the creature just sent the pot spinning harmlessly away.

This is what I get for not grinding my "Throwing" skill.

I tried using "Levitate" to hover over it and drop the dirt in, but it never moved under me while I was levitating (and while levitating, you can only move up and down). Finally, I just walked into the middle of the damned twister, took the damage, and dropped the dirt. This weakened it enough that I could USE BELLOWS and suck it up, though I'm not sure that's how bellows work.

This on Day 9:

Any reason I'm not at this meeting, given that I'm the one doing all the work?

Day 12 brought the Earth Elemental. He was perhaps the easiest of the elementals to defeat. NPCs had alerted me that he was vulnerable to fire, which of course I had in the form of "Flame Dart." A conversation with Rakeesh revealed what must be the fighter's option: Rakeesh has a magic flaming sword which normally only works for paladins, but which he could "will" to work for an average fighter. As I was a mage, though, he wasn't interested in helping me.

Thanks for nothing, then.

As a mage, of course, I had far more resources than the pitiful fighter, and I was able to reduce the Earth Elemental to a heap of dirt with a few castings of "Flame Dart." 

When I went to GATHER him, the game put him in a cloth bag I'd forgotten I even had. I had expected it to go into an empty pot.

After I defeated the Earth Elemental, I figured I had a key element to solve the "woman-tree" quest I'd stumbled upon several days prior. Asking Aziza the Enchantress about the mysterious woman-shaped tree in the desert produced a heartbreaking story about a beautiful healer who had to suffer the unwanted attentions of numerous men while pursuing her professional trade. Eventually, she was kidnapped by a man who lured her into the desert with a ruse about a dying man, and she was raped by a group of brigands.

Okay, technically Aziza "wouldn't say" what happened to her, but my guess is they didn't force her to play the shoe in Monopoly.

The woman escaped the brigands but was pursued and nearly captured. In desperation, she called out for help, and a djinn heard her cry and turned her into a tree. I guess that worked, though if I were a djinn, I might have, I don't know, buried the bandits in sand or teleported the woman to Columbia Medical School in 2014 or something.

Aziza outlined what I needed to do to free her spirit: give her a gift of kindness, a gift of magic, and a gift of love. The gift of kindness would be "what you would give to someone who has been in the desert for far too long" followed by telling her about myself to remind her of what it means to be human. The gift of magic would be something I'd gained through hardship, and "something from which a plant can gain strengh," followed by telling her how I acquired it.

Every visit to Aziza prior to capturing the Earth Elemental led to her saying that I didn't yet have a suitable gift of magic, but after I had the beast safely sewn up in my cloth bag, she said I was ready, and told me to say the woman's name, "Julanar," as the final step of the ritual.

Wow. Whatever language this is, it makes efficient use of its root syllables.

With the necessary resources in hand, I returned to the desert and visited the poor tree. A combination of GIVE WATER, TELL ABOUT SELF, GIVE EARTH, and TELL ABOUT EARTH ELEMENTAL brought me most of the way there. At each stage, the tree gained color, turned to face me, and finally blossomed.

Wait a minute. Hold on. I was never remotely afraid of the Earth Elemental.

The "gift of love" was the hardest part. I tried giving her flowers, but that didn't work. Neither did KISS. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out HUG.

When I did that and said her name, she rustled and dropped the "Fruit of Compassion." She didn't change back into a woman; Aziza had warned me that this wouldn't happen until another person "frees her with the power of True Love." (Why couldn't this be me? I love wood!) This calls up a faint memory, and I suspect we'll be hearing about Julanar again. In all, it was a touching story and a great side-quest, although it could have been a little more challenging with less explicit hints from Aziza.

Back on Day 8, Keapon Laffin had told me that the Dervish was in need of a hero. I visited him then, only to find that he wanted me to "dispel" a "caged beast" and that the alchemist, Harik, would know how to do it. Well, I had already talked to Harik about the "Dispel Potion," only to find that in addition to the griffon feathers (which I had), I also needed the "Fruit of Compassion." Since I didn't get that until I freed the spirit of the tree, I couldn't act on the Dervish's quest until Day 12. With the feather and the fruit, though, I had the alchemist whip up a couple of "Dispel" potions.

It turned out I only needed one. I'm not sure why the game bothered with three.

Harik warned me that I needed to mix a bit of the beast's hair to the potion before administering it (what if it's a bald beast?). Following the Dervish's directions, I found, caged in the middle of the desert, a beast that looked more like a griffon than the game's actual griffon. Distracting it with GIVE FOOD and GIVE WATER, I managed to pluck a bit of its hair and add it to the potion, although not without some misadventures first:

Casting "Open" on the cage door was apparently a bad idea.

Upon drinking the "Dispel" potion, the former beast turned into a man and revealed himself as "Al Scurva," the former apprentice of the wizard Ad Avis. I think this is the first place in which the wizard is named, although he's one of the unnamed portraits in the WIT. (Aside: doesn't his name mean "to a bird"?) Al Scurva warned me not to go near Ad Avis "unless you have some spell of protection or are very quick."

Note the left-hand side of the screen. This is a hint.

Al Scurva indicated that Ad Avis was planning some big ritual that would probably destroy everything, and as a consequence, he blinked out of Shapeir as soon as he finished his monologue.

I spent a while wandering around Shapeir, typing ASK ABOUT AD AVIS to everyone who would listen, but no one had anything particularly valuable to say.

You're what we call "slow on the uptake," aren't you, Aziza?
On Day 14, the last of the elementals--Water--finally appeared in the Plaza of the Fountain. I knew that his weakness was air, but I didn't think I had any item that exemplified air except . . . wait . . . the Air Elemental encased in the bellows! Defeating the Water Elemental was a simple matter of USE BELLOWS to release the Air Elemental and force the Water Elemental out of the fountain, then DROP WATERSKIN to suck it up. I'm not sure why this didn't result in me having to capture the Air Elemental again, but I'm not complaining.

Elementals. So predictable.

It was fun wandering around the city after capturing each elemental. The various NPCs all reacted suitably, praising my heroism and thanking me for my service to Shapeir.

Is that sarcasm? That sounds like sarcasm.

I thought your people specialized in flying carpets.
Well, if I don't continue to solve all your problems on my own, that will be about three days.

I was also financially rewarded for my slaying of the various elementals. The first time, Rakeesh gave me 50 dinars (given to him by the Sultan) for slaying the Fire Elemental; the other times, Omar the Poet gave the rewards to me. I guess he and the Sultan must be friends or something.

Thanks, "Omar."

On Day 16, Aziza summoned me to her house again to talk about disturbing signs from Raseir. As we talked, my faithful saurus came barging through the door with a "Gronk." Instead of freaking out and throwing us out, Aziza divined there was something special about the saurus and used her magic to reveal his true nature: Emir Arus al-Din, the deposed and absent former ruler of Raseir.

Aziza said that she'd take care of the Emir while I went to Raseir (presumably on the back of a different saurus) as part of a caravan leaving the next day. The game didn't give me a chance to use one of my other "Dispel" potions on the beast.

That night, we had one more poetry recital from Omar.

And the next morning, I was among a caravan of sauruses on their way--officially, this time--to the city several hundred leagues to the west. This marks a major break in the game; the rest of it takes place in Raseir and its environs. In case it wasn't clear, I've already won, but I think perhaps I'm going to delay the rest of the story, both to give Trickster a chance to catch up in the narrative, but also to explore a few things I didn't get to experience in Shapeir. Wow, this post was long, wasn't it?


  1. Such a fun game, I enjoy reading of your adventure.

  2. Comment got eaten by the internet gods. Ugh.
    I love this game, QfG is probably my most favourite series and reading this makes me want to replay all of them in order (again) -- it's been a few years.

    As I recall, poison cure pills are more like resist poison pills. Having one active in your system will make the scorpion's stinger attack not auto-kill you, but I think only once per pill.

    I think your ineffective spells are related to your low magic, intelligence and probably spell skill. If you max intelligence, magic and combat spell skills, you should start blowing things up very well, though it takes a lot of grinding with magic pills.

    I think I used to have a decent way of getting rid of centimes, but it may have been mostly using space bar and enter to give them to the beggar. Have you tried switching them at the money changer? I don't recall if that actually works, but it might.

    1. I tried exchanging centimes with the money changer, but I couldn't. Perhaps it's possible in the VGA remake?

    2. Thanks for the clarification on the poison pills. I guess that works, but I discovered early on that the scorpion does a little wiggle with his tail before his special attack, and if you can just hit him in the next few seconds, you disrupt it. Hence, not much need for the pills.

    3. I'm playing the remake and you can exchange centimes for dinars at the moneychanger (you give her multiplies of hundred centimes and she gives you the appropriate amount of dinars).

  3. Great post! You've actually gone beyond where I am (although I'm spending all my time grinding skills, of which a couple are really difficult to raise). Enjoyed the screenshot captions in particular!

    What I find interesting about the elementals is that some have multiple ways to defeat them, whilst others can only be defeated by a specific set of actions. The fire and water elementals can only be dealt with one way, but the Earth elemental I defeated once with 2 flame darts (max spell level), then realised I didn't have a bag and had to defeat him again (this time with Soulforge from Rakeesh, one hit with max combat skills).

    The Air elemental has the most variety, I had bags of sand rather than getting earth from Keapon Laffin (and you can get earth from one of the katta merchants too). Then you can either use throwing, strength or levitate. It would have perhaps been nice for each elemental to have a bit of variety for each different class.

    I've never tried the walk to Raseir, but now I'm wondering if you're able to walk back to Shapeir once you've got your visa etc..

  4. I think the case is wrong for 'ad avis' to come out as anything sensible, but I wonder if they might have been aiming for "for the birds".

    1. Ad Avis was intended to sound vaguely Arabic, while actually being a play on the name of Bill Davis. Bill was the Creative Director for all Sierra games during Trial By Fire development. The game subtitle describes what it was like to work there that year as Sierra went through a major transition period. :-)

      Al Skurva was named after Bill Skirvin, the art department manager (i.e. above the team lead artists and reporting to Bill Davis). Raseir was an intentional anagram of Sierra, and some of the rules there were parodies of rules that had been instituted at Sierra that year.

      Not that we were bitter. Well, maybe a little. "Frustrated" might be a better term, as we thought we had become experts in the Sierra development process during Hero's Quest, and most of the process changed in 1990.

    2. Japanese games are the bestJuly 29, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      Could you please tell us about the rules? I loved Sierra, and I would be curious to get some historical information about it. Were the rules part of the transition from text interfaces to graphic interfaces? I remember that Quest for Glory 3 had a text interface, and King's Quest 5 came out shortly before that and had the first graphic interface by your company. I remember that around that time, Sierra's games started to have larger scopes, but individual areas were smaller and offered less freedom: Was that due to the advancements in technology, or Sierra's rules?

      Were the rules all bad? I remember characters like Sonny Bonds, Roger Wilco, Leisure Suit Larry and Gabriel Knight in his first game being more developed and verbose later than in the early games; was that due to the rules, or you guys developing the scripts over time?

      Also, did Jim Walls ever tell you about his time as a policeman? I would be curious if he told you any interesting or weird stories about criminals.

    3. Not that sort of rules at all. The changes were things such as a security system where you had to enter your personal code to open a door. It was against the rules to let anyone else come in with you; they had to enter their own code. A time clock for creative employees (who were all on salary with no overtime pay, so it was basically to make sure everyone was in the office at the "right" times). Everyone required to come in at the same time and take lunch and other breaks at the same time.

      Logistically, when we made Hero's Quest, the designers, programmers, and artists all sat together in our little area. Starting with Quest for Glory II, the artists worked in a separate art area, and the programmers and designers worked in a different area. To request an art change, a programmer would come to me (as lead programmer). I would pass on the request to Kenn Nishiuye, the art director, and Kenn would assign an artist to do the work.

      Lori and I did not like this way of working, because we felt that the entire team was more creative when they sat and worked together.

      We also had stricter process requirements, such as spending a month created thumbnail storyboards for the entire game before any work was done on it. This was probably more efficient than developing the world "on the fly", but made it much more difficult to try out ideas and abandon the ones that didn't work.

      Greater character development was a consequence of a few things. Management encouraged it, CD-ROMs and later DVD's allowed much more space for text and dialogue, and designers tended to focus solely on game design rather than also being responsible for art and/or programming. There were exceptions of course - Jim Walls always did only game design and writing.

      We didn't interact much with the other teams or designers. We would see Jim, Mark, Scott, Al, or Jane occasionally in passing, but there was never time for long philosophical discussions about game design. We were all busy with our own projects.

  5. Ad means to advancing or moving towards something so ad avis would mean towards the sky/birds or something in that vein but I admit that my latin is has gone quite rusty since from my school days.

  6. Hahaha, no Dinar's Club, I love the comedy in these games :)

  7. Great post, congratulations again!
    Obviously a highly entertaining game, but you really bent the game mechanics to the breaking point. That's the weakness of games with scripted events, replayability will always be somewhat limited. At some point the game turns a little sterile. Like in Morrowind, you have already defeated Dagoth Ur, you're going through the two expansions, do the more significant side-quests, yet nothing changes anymore.

  8. What happens if you use the dispel potion on the saurus before finding out who it is?

    1. Good question. I don't have a save game old enough to try it out, but I suspect that there's no mechanism by which to take some of the saurus's hair, which is a necessary addition to the potion. I'll give it a shot with a new character.

    2. I gave this a go, but the game doesn't allow you to either give the saurus a dispel potion, nor get his hair.

    3. The Saurus is scaly, no hair to get. Until someone is able to obtain some of the former Emir's hair, it is impossible to tailor the dispel potion. Hence, no option to use it.

  9. Very interesting! If you can go to Raseir while still adventuring in Shapeir, can you go back to Shapeir once the storyline takes you to Raseir? Does anything happen then?

    1. I'm pretty sure you are not permitted to leave Raseir once the plot puts you there.

    2. You can leave Raseir, but I'm not sure if you can make your way to Shapeir. Just seems like endless desert.

    3. I'ts not endless:

    4. So to save people the task of watching someone walk across the desert for eight minutes:

      The Hero arrives at Shapier, only to have the game immediately kick him back into the caravan scene and forces him to go to Raseir again. Not quite as neat as the special scene in the other direction. :)

  10. That's nice to be quoted by Addict and thanks Mr. Cole for his reply in the previous post :) I agree with Addict - high strength means easy combat. It's just poorly balanced. On my playthrough I played as a warrior (later paladin) with high stats (I did a lot of grinding) and that's why I was so disappointed because the combat was easy as pie and it ruined my otherwise great experience with the game.

  11. I am not a troll! Besides, I try to only lie when it is obvious and funny. This would have been neither.

    I admit that I had a different experience than you did, even playing as a magic-user. Perhaps it was that I started a new character for QfG2, but I never found dagger combat to be easy, though I was able to kill anything by spamming Flame Dart.

    I agree that there are some times where nothing seems to happen. The game is not paced all that well for us experienced adventurers, but when this game came out originally I remember getting quite stuck on some of the elementals and not solving their quests in time. I was twelve at the time, so that probably explains it.

    On my second playthrough, I think I enjoyed playing as a Thief more. Thieves still had the "puzzle adventure" aspect of the game (compared to the Fighter who tends to beat puzzles by walking up and punching them), while getting more play areas (the two thief houses in Shapier, one more in Raseir). That said, the EOF subquest for the Fighters may be quite fun, but I did not get that far in my Fighter playthrough before my laptop ate itself and has not been recovered.

  12. So I went through worldofspectrum's list of games (they have a separate list for graphic adventures that also contains some RPGs) from A to F and listed all games that are likely to qualify as RPGs by your definition. I don't claim that this list is in any way complete. I grew up with a C64 and never owned a Spectrum. I didn't know most of these games and had to check screenshots and reviews to decide if they're RPGs. I definitely erred on the side of caution and largely ignored non-english or newer amateur games.

    Anyway, here's the list, that includes the titles and my reason for including them:


    - Adventure 1,2,3,4 (listed as RPG)
    - Adventurer (1991)
    Listed as RPG.

    - Black Dwarf's Lair
    Listed as Dungeon Crawler.
    - Broodslayer (1984)
    Listed as RPG

    - Cavers d'Or (1986)
    Adventure/Dungeon Crawler, Strength and Stamina stats hint at combat
    - Cells and Serpents (1983)
    Dungeon crawler with combat, randomized dungeons

    - Dungeons (1983)
    Listed as RPG
    - Dungeon Master, The (1983)
    Listed as Adventure:Dungeon Crawl, but one review says it's "[...]the first attempt to put the real 'D&D' game on the Spectrum."?

    - Eye of the Star Warrior, The (1984)
    Listed as RPG. Simple adventure with simple combat. Strength seems to be the only stat. Might barely qualify as RPG by your definition.

    - Forest of Long Shadows
    Listed as RPG. Looks a bit like a strategy game too though.
    - Fire on the Water (1984)
    Listed as Graphic Adventure, but features combat, improving of 'combat level' and is based on the "Lone Wolf" game books.
    - Flight from the Dark (1984)
    See Fire on the Water.

    1. +1 for me on playing "Flight from the Dark" and "Fire on the Water" at least. I loved those game books as a kid. And there may be something interesting to say about the comparison with Tunnels and Trolls which also felt very much like a "game book".

      Joe Dever's universe, far more than D&D, was the one that I played in as a kid. I had every gamebook, I had the guidebook, I had the novels. I created massive fantasy campaigns. I worked out a combat model for group combat so I could simulate the attack on the Kai Monastery from the first book, watching the heroes get slaughtered each and every time because that was how it happened in the books. It was my Alamo.

      Of course, if it just a straight re-telling of the book on a computer, I will be disappointed. But even the game books had stat-based combat and puzzles and they play quite a bit like a very simple RPG. (The last page of the book even had a "random number generator" where you would point your pencil someplace and there would be the number you would use for that "roll". Worked great except I memorized where all the high numbers were.)

      The other great thing about the Kai books was that your gear transferred from one book to the others. So if you played through and got the Sommersword in one book, you could continue using it in the later ones and there were even some plot lines that only opened up if you were carrying certain gear from previous books. It made you want to play them all in sequence.

      Strange if these are the only computer adaptations, but perhaps my rose-tinted glasses do not do the series justice. This is a long way around to say "yes, please". :)

    2. There was a third game in this series which is not based on a book and which may be more arcade:

      Lone Wolf - The Mirror of Death (1991)

      Also looking over the other two, they *appear* to have stat-based combat, but they follow the book closely. The manual even suggests that you can turn to the book for more content about a scene (but it says that the game includes bonus content not bound in the book).

      Man, I may need to find a Spectrum emulator to play this... Thanks CommentMan!

    3. The Lone Wolf books are available electronically now, complete with a small program for tracking stats and inventory, and resolving combats. Not quite the same nostalgic feel as paging through the paperbacks, but it is a great deal cheaper.

      You can get them at Project Aon.

    4. Also, the very last book of Lone Wolf was published at Project Aon last month.

    5. Woot! Too bad the PC Port in NWN didn't finish, not to mention that it wasn't totally canonical. As was the one for George Martin's A Song of Fire & Ice.

    6. CommentMan, I know you didn't mean to, but you may have just rendered my entire non-DOS backtracking plan unfeasible. I'll have to think about this.

    7. Hm, I don't think that there are lot of uncategorized or obscure RPGs. Most of games are multi-platform titles and they are already on your list. For platform exclusive titles you may missing some of obscure or mis-categorized games, but I don't think that there aren't that many of them.

      After year 1990., microcomputers popularity will decline, and there is high chance that you will reject some games. I don't know what other readers think, but for me this mixing one "new" and one old game from backtracking is great. I enjoy reading posts about this ancient games, and evolution of genre.

      Please don't change this plan :)

    8. * but I don't think that there are that many of them.

    9. I second that. I love the way this blog is alternating between the 90s and the 80s. Do as you think is best of course, but for my part this has been a fantastic ride.

    10. "CommentMan, I know you didn't mean to, but you may have just rendered my entire non-DOS backtracking plan unfeasible. I'll have to think about this."

      Welp, sorry. I hope this only means that you'll think about your approach to backtracking, rather than stopping it altogether.

      Why does it make yor entire plan unfeasable though? Is it because my list includes early releases from years that you thought you were already done with? If so, I think there's always a risk that someone will mention a game that you weren't aware of that doesn't neatly fit into your plan.

      If it's the number of games, I suppose you could occasionally play two older games in a row seeing how you get through most of them at a very good pace (at least it seems that way).

      For what it's worth, I don't hink there are all that many games missing from your list. The spectrum seems to have an unusually large number of exclusive RPGs. Your list for other platforms are probably much more complete, mostly because many RPGs saw multiplatform releases. For example, I also went through lemon64 list of RPGs and only noticed two missing (and fairly obscure) games that I mentioned a while back as an anonymous commenter.

      I think it might be worth it to comb worldofspectrum for RPGs, add them to your list and figure out how to fit them in. That should pretty much get you covered, as I don't think you are missing nearly as many games for any of the other platforms. And you can never be safe from someone bringing up the odd missing game that doesn't fit with your plan anymore.

      Anyway, I'll stop suggesting games until you figure out how to fit them in (if you want to do that at all).

    11. Speaking of Lone Wolf CRPGs, why isn't this one in the list?

    12. Ice Halls of Terror? I guess "Caverns of Kalte" (the real name for the third book) just didn't get eyeballs?

      Is this the end of the series? Did they make an adaptation of "Chasm of Doom" or "Shadow on the Sand"? The latter was probably the best book of the series, if I remember correctly.

      I will be searching these out as soon as I manage to get my laptop repaired. :/

    13. Comment Man's list includes 16 new games in the A-F range alone. Most of them look like amateur efforts, and I'm not really interested in continuing to spend time on half-assed 1980s titles.

      Sigh. Nonetheless, I guess I'll add them and see what happens. I suppose it's not impossible that there's a lost gem among them.

    14. I have looked on World of Spectrum RPG list, and I think that you have all of them :D

      There are some minor titles, but from screen shots I can see that they are not RPGs by your criteria.

      World of Spectrum in database has 85 games classified as RPG, Lemon64 has 97 games, and LemonAmiga has 49 games.

      I have noticed that you have played Paladin, but Paladin II is not on your master list.

      On MobyGames genre is listed as strategy:

      For Commodore64 I found this games: Boom (Hungarian RPG from 1996) -

      Lord of the Balrogs (text RPG from 1983) -

      Here is review summary: This game is almost like a proto-Diablo without the graphics or the more action-based control method. It's a bit odd in that the stuff you gather feel more inconsequential than anything, and leaves up far too much to luck and chance. That said, there is a simple joy to the exploration and progress made, and if you can ignore the downright pedestrian graphics and sound effects, this game should...


    15. I have searching various databases, and found another game that isn't on master list.

      Dungeon of Ymir is a dungeon crawling RPG where the player has to find the sacred Sword of Kaslo. The dungeon consists of multiple levels connected with stairs that the player has to explore. There are plenty of monsters that will come in the hero's path and the combat with these is automatically performed when contact is made. Once the battle has started it can not be cancelled. If healing potions are available they will be automatically used in combat when needed. Hit points lost will automatically recharge after battle. Defeating a monster leads to an increase in experience points and ultimately the player will level up. Some of the monsters that the player will encounter are minotaurs, archers, birdmen, dire wolves, three-legged gremlins and ghastly ghouls.

      Various objects can be found around the corridors of the dungeon. This includes gold, spell vials, lamps and mysterious chests. There are also temples that the player can visit. A few different kinds of spell can be cast: drift, shield, teleport and invoke rejuvenation. The player can also use healing potions. Sometimes the player might stumble upon an oracle who might help the player.

      Game can be downloaded from original developer web page:


    16. Also found two roguelike games from 1982 that aren't on your list:


    17. As I've said in a few other comment threads, you really aren't helping me by combing other lists to bulk up my master list. It's already long enough. I'll be happy to add games for which people have direct experience and can confirm that they meet my criteria, but I don't understand why the last couple weeks have brought out so many people determined to dump a dozen games on me at once.

      A few notes:

      Paladin II: I'll consider adding it if someone confirms it has character development. The first one only had development of the most basic sort, with one attribute increasing after each successful mission.

      Boom: Like GameFAQs, the "Lemon" sites have proved to be very unreliable in their assessment of what constitutes an RPG. I'll need independent confirmation of the game's RPG credentials.

      Lord of the Balrogs: I rejected it a few months ago as not having enough RPG elements. Same with Volcanic Dungeon.

      Dungeon of Ymir and Catacombs were both added to MobyGames just this year, apparently by some ZX81 fan. They do seem like RPGs, but that's yet another emulator I'll have to learn.

    18. Ok, thanks. And sorry about this :(

  13. I have found about three games that aren't or your list: (ZX Spectrum 48K) (Amstrad CPC464)

    They are listed as adventure RPGs but from reading reviews, I think that they are fit to your criteria.

    OUT OF THE SHADOWS - you can choose race, game has quest and dungeons, you can use magic, slay monsters and collecting treasures, the experience points you gain lead to increased strength, dexterity and life force, while an award of a thousand points raises your character to a new experience level, there are shops where you can buy and sell various goods

    Mindstone - During play all attributes can be altered with strength being increased by eating and drinking, psyche assisted with meditation under the right conditions, and gold pieces can be accumulated by mining or alchemy a character selected to perform moves across the screen from far left to right either to take a drink from the bar, attack a wolf or an orc or whatever, or cast a spell to smooth the way

    Heavy on the Magick - The player controls the neophyte wizard Axil the Able and must help him escape from the dungeons below the castle of Colloden's Pile, The dungeons are full of dangerous and hostile creatures such as wyverns, goblins and vampires. Axil can defend himself using magic to stall or kill these creatures

    First two games are looking are RPGs but for Heavy on the Magick i don't know, it has stats but it is more like adventure with action elements to me...

    1. I've added Out of the Shadows and Mindstone. Heavy on the Magick sounds too much like an adventure game to me, and I didn't get any sense of character development from the description. If someone else who has played the game comes along and says that it has it, I'll add it.

    2. I've mentioned both games back in 2012.
      About Heavy on the Magic I wrote:
      "More of an Adventure/CRPG hybrid than a CRPG since a lot of the game revolved around finding items and using them at the right places. But it has CRPG stats, combat and character interaction. You can even invoke demons and talk to them."

    3. I have to agree: adding hit points and a bit of combat to an adventure game doesn't turn it into an RPG. I played Heavy on the Magick back in the day, and that's how it's like (which doesn't mean it wasn't a good game, of course, but that's not the question here).

  14. Japanese games are the bestJuly 29, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Regardless of my hate for this game, I will acknowledge that being able to cross the desert to the other city like that is impressive. I loved how much detail and freedom the old Sierra games had, especially since every object had a humorous description and anything that looked fatal would produce a hilarious death. I loved finding every possible action and death in those games, and I still love doing stupid things in games to see what happens--unlike DarkSydePhil, who does nothing but stupid things because he is a retarded shaved ape.

    This post shows exactly my problem with this game: Instead of getting to solve the puzzles yourself, you just interpret instructions in a tedious manner. This game really feels like it is out of the player's control, and it really makes me wonder why the characters could not handle the problems themselves. Also, most of the time not spent following the instructions is spent either tediously navigating mazes or level grinding, which really kills the flow and humor of the game.

    You hate Rakeesh? Well then, the next game should be interesting, since his homeland is the setting. This may be another case where we disagree about the series, as I enjoy the third game but that may turn you off of it.

    I recommend you work on your throwing skill, because that will make the endgame easier and apparently Paladins are required to have it in the game.

    Quest for Glory 4 is great, but you may never finish it due to all the bugs. I played it twice, managed to finish once, hit a wall both times: The fight with two enemies in the swamp suffered crippling slowdown. I managed to get around that somehow the first time, but replaying it recently, I got stuck. Sierra games were great, but they did have a few too many "oops, you tried something we didn't think of" crashes.

    I just noticed that you had A.I.M. as a way to identify myself. I think the last time A.O.L. was an acceptable Internet service, Leisure Suit Larry was skipping a game.

  15. Japanese games are the bestJuly 29, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    I just showed my R.P.G. chops by defeating Beelzebub and unlocking the fifth Kalpa in Shin megami Tensei 3, after beating the first two games.

    Why is Beelzebub so hard? 16,000 hit points when your characters are lucky to take away even 200 points per hit; instant death spells; the ability to hit four times in a row at will; access to Almighty, the most powerful spell type in the game; and to even get to him, you need to fight an annoying boss with a gimmick that requires memorization and luck rather skill to win. I kicked his ass regardless.

    1. I know what you're talking about. I've played and enjoyed that game.
      I don't CARE. It doesn't belong here. Please stop posting it here.

    2. Probably he posted it wrongly. Because it's just so out of place that I just HAVE to assume it's a mistake because the alternative just seems so... sad... and lonely...


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