What is this blog about?

This blog is about my personal journey (roughly chronologically) through 50 years of computer role-playing games (CRPGs). I play each game and discuss its strengths and weaknesses, its place in the history of RPGs, its influences, and just what it's like to play the game today.

Who are you?

I call myself Chester Bolingbroke on this blog. (I use a pseudonym because my profession would not intermingle well with my hobby.) I'm just a guy in his 50s who teaches college. I have no professional experience in the computer gaming industry.

Then why should I care about what you think?

I really have no idea. People seem to like my blog, though.

Why are you doing this?

Ever since I was introduced to my first RPG (Questron) in the mid-1980s, I've been addicted to computer RPGs. I play them far more than I should, often sacrificing elements of work and education. I primarily started this blog so I'd have something tangible to show for all the playing I do.

But I started the project--going through all RPGs in chronological order--before I started the blog. I did this as a way to experience new RPGs, because I found that I kept playing a small selection of them repeatedly. When I won Rogue, I posted the screenshot to Reddit, and someone suggested I start a blog. I found I really enjoyed the process of writing about games. In particular, it makes me feel better about playing bad games.

How do you have time to play all of these games? Aren't you neglecting your personal life and family?

I have no children, and I have few other hobbies. I can play in the middle of the night, when my wife, Irene, is asleep; on airplanes; in hotel rooms and hotel bars; and lots of other places that I find myself between work and personal obligations. But it's still inescapable that I play and blog more than I should. "Addict" isn't meant metaphorically.

How many people contribute to this site? Has the author changed over the years?

All right, let's get this out of the way:

  • There is only one of me.
  • There has only ever been one of me.
  • This blog has been run by the same person since it started in 2010.
  • If I allow a rare guest posting it is explicitly marked as such.
  • I otherwise play all the games that I analyze.
  • I play them all the way through.
  • I do not take screen shots that represent my progress through a game from other sites or other players.
  • I put in all the hours that I report that I put in.
  • If I use cheats or shortcuts, I explicitly say so.
Lots of other people "contribute" to this site as commenters, though, and they often do a better job than I did with the main entry. Read the comments.

What do you consider a "computer role-playing game"?
In March 2022, I revised my definition of a role-playing game as follows: A role-playing game is one in which character development is the driving mechanic of gameplay. Specifically:
  1. Throughout the game, the character must become stronger, more resilient, and more capable of overcoming the game's challenges, including combat.
  2. Such character development must be separate from inventory acquisition.
  3. Such character development must not consist solely of improvements to maximum health.
  4. Players must have some control over the rate or details of development.
The last two points excludes games whose only form of character development occurs at fixed points in the game, such as the ends of missions or chapters, plus games in which all characters hit the same development milestones throughout the game and thus end with the same skills and abilities as every other character played by every other player.
Games that meet these criteria but otherwise seem like they belong in other genres are probably hybrids, and hybrids do meet my criteria.

My definition prior to March 2022 had three criteria:
  1. The game must feature character development.
  2. Combat success must be based in part on intrinsic attributes and not just player reflexes or weapon statistics.
  3. The player must have a flexible inventory of equipment he can wield, equip, unequip, sell, drop, and trade.

I decided that #2 was inherent in #1 and I was never rejecting a game based on #3 because I regarded just about anything as "equipment." Still, in older entries you might see references to my "three rules" or "three criteria."
What's this list? How do you determine what games you play?

I compiled a master list of CRPGs based on several sources, including Wikipedia, MobyGames, GameFAQs, and submissions from readers.

To appear on my list, the game a) must have a single-player campaign (no pure MMORPGs or MUDs), and b) it must have been released for a personal computer, in c) a Latin alphabet language. Console games do not appear on my playlist unless they also had PC releases during their original release schedule (generally within 2 years of the console release). Exceptions made and ambiguity resolved at my discretion.

Why no console games?

The list of computer RPGs is already long enough and I have to have some way to keep it manageable. I tend to like computer RPGs more than console RPGs, and emulators replicate the console experience less faithfully than the computer experience. Bottom line: it's my blog, and that's what I decided. That said, I have occasionally thrown a console game into the rotation, and eventually I'll probably pick up the best representatives of the sub-genre. These console excursions are exceptions, however, and making such exceptions does not obligate me to make more exceptions.

I know of a game that isn't on your list. Should I tell you?

No. I'm sorry, but too many games nominated by commenters have turned out not to be RPGs. I regard several online sources as authoritative in this regard, predominantly Wikipedia and MobyGames. If you know of a game not listed on one of these two sources, please take the time to submit an entry to those sites. (Make sure you are using the appropriate site's definition for what constitutes a "role-playing game.") If the site already lists the game but not as an RPG, and you think it is wrong, please submit a correction. Either way, I will find the game on my next scan of the site and add it to my master list.

What order do you follow?

Chronologically by year of original release, then with all games in a particular year randomized. Eventually, I'll get to a year when we have good data on specific dates of release, and I'll go in that order.

But you're not going in chronological order! Your posts jump all over the place in years. Why?

New games get found and added to the master list all the time. It seems like I'm always trying to catch up. I thus tend to alternate games from my "current" year with recently-discovered games from older years.
You seem to be losing time. Are you ever going to get caught up to the current year?

God, no. That isn't even really the purpose of my blog. There are plenty of sites that discuss current RPGs. I'm perfectly happy if most of the RPGs I'm writing about are a couple of decades old. 
What are BRIEFs? I keep seeing the term.

I call an entry a BRIEF when I'm rejecting a game as an RPG, or when I can't play it more than a couple of hours because of a technical reason. I offer what I can and move on. These games do not get numbered and do not count towards my win/loss statistics. I still want to write about them so that readers don't repeatedly submit questions asking why I haven't covered a particular game.
I see you have an "upcoming" list, but then you keep writing about games that aren't on that list. What kind of schedule do you keep anyway?
Fair question. This is what I generally try to do:
  1. Compose the "upcoming" list with games from my "current" year and games from years I've already passed through (without knowing about them at the time).
  2. Post four entries in a row covering the games on my current list (the ones with arrows next to them), spaced about every 2.5 days apart, alternating at least two games. If I win a game, I advance the next game on the "upcoming" list to the current list.
  3. Every fifth entry, pull a random game from a grab-bag list of games I haven't played yet, ones I rejected, ones I played and abandoned, or console games. 
  4. Sometimes instead of #3, I do a "special topic" entry.
Those looking for a hard-and-fast, predictable system will have to look for it on other blogs. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing what's next on the list.
Other than adopting a new list, how has your blog changed over time?

Several ways:

  • I have a lot more commenters now, so I incorporate more of their thoughts and facts into my posts.
  • In the early days, I didn't have much experience blogging, so I was inconsistent in length and formatting.
  • During the first couple years, I tended to interrupt my playing with "special topics" posts on various aspects of computer RPGs. I do that a lot less now, mostly because they weren't very well-received. I still plan to complete the "Perfect RPG" series over time, though.
  • I used to tell people more about my personal life, where I was traveling, when I was on the road, and when there would be a hiatus in my postings. I stopped doing that because I was over-sharing, I shifted to a series of jobs where I'm always on the road, and if I don't post anything for a while, people can just wait.
  • I originally didn't talk much about platforms, technology, and the individuals and companies involved in the business. I try to do that a lot more now, even though I don't know a lot about the technology, and I always love when the original developers come and comment on the blog.
  • In the first 50 games, I didn't mind very much if I didn't win. Now, I hardly ever quit a game before winning.
  • In general, I know more about the genre now, and as my posts go forward, they're from a frame of mind that includes a greater understanding of the genre.

What is this GIMLET I keep hearing about? Why do you rank and score these games?

The GIMLET is an indexed scoring system that I developed a long time ago. I was looking for a way to categorize and quantify what I like about games, so I designed the 10 categories to roughly balance what's important to me.

It has the illusion of being objective because it results in a number, but it's still a very subjective system. My scoring hasn't always been consistent over time, and of course plenty of other players value different things about RPGs. A lot of readers don't like the GIMLET--don't like any attempt at all to rank games quantitatively--and I encourage them simply not to read those "final rating" posts, or at least not pay attention to the numbers.

It's important to understand, though, that the final score is not like modern reviews, where an 80 is quite bad, or some kind of college grading system, where 70 is failing. It's intended to have lots of room for improvement, and it's likely that no game ever published would score 100. On the GIMLET scale, I start recommending games with a score of around 35. A GIMLET of 50 or above is a very good score--held by only about 10% of games.

It's also important to understand that the GIMLET ranks games as they are now, not as they were at the time. It's intended to compare games from wildly different eras. If I rank a 1988 game with a 60 and a 2014 game with a 50, it means I honestly enjoyed the 1988 game more despite its age.

You're playing the wrong version of this game! You should check out . . .

Yes, yes, everyone has their favorite platforms from their youth. I'm always--always--going to choose the platform that offers the easiest experience emulating the game, and that's almost always going to be DOS (if it was released for DOS). I don't care if the Amiga version has better graphics or sound or the Atari ST version has a special alternate ending. I welcome comments on the differences that other platforms offer, but I'm not going to switch to one unless the DOS version has bugs that make the game unplayable or unwinnable.

I'm definitely not going to play the same game on a second platform. No, not even "just to check it out." Not even to "fully document" it. My list is already long enough.

How can I support your blog?

1. After fighting it for years, I finally set up a Patreon account in 2019.

2. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. You don't have to watch anything. The subscription alone helps me meet YouTube's threshold for where they allow me to have ads.

3. Consider buying my book if I ever release it.

You make a lot of typos. Do you want to know about them?

I know. It really annoys me. I write and edit professionally, so it's also a bit inexcusable, and it's getting worse as I get older. Yes, I want to know about them. You may e-mail me or put the correction in the comments for the article. If you do the latter, please understand that I will delete the comment after making the correction, so if you have other things that you want to say about the entry, please leave them in a separate comment.
I have several dedicated readers--LanHawk, Gabor, Busca, and occasional others--who send me corrections some time after my entries are published. Without them, I'd sound a lot more illiterate than I currently do.

Any other preferences on commenting?

I don't moderate or censor comments. I only delete spam, links to commercial entities, or anything that's particularly lewd or vile. But since you asked, here are some comments that I wish people would occasionally re-think:

  • Anything that begins with the words "actually," "eh," "not really," or otherwise completely dismisses what the previous person has said. That fills me with incomprehensible rage.
  • Comments in which the commenter clearly hasn't read my other posts on the game, or even the post he's commenting on.
  • Comments that just regurgitate stuff I've already covered in the postings.
  • Comments that address issues already answered in this FAQ.
  • Spoilers. "Previews" of material coming up in a game I'm just beginning to cover are spoilers. Spoilers don't have to be explicit answers to puzzles; they include anything that robs me of the experience of finding something for myself. (I prefer not to "find" horrid bugs, so those aren't spoilers.)

Should I bother to comment on old games?

Yes! I get an e-mail with every comment. I love to hear more discussion on games long gone by, especially if there were unanswered questions or outstanding issues.

What software do you use to make your maps?

Microsoft Excel. I adjust the row and column widths until they make squares, then use the border-drawing tools to add walls, doors, secret doors, and such. Letters and symbols in the cells annotate treasures and encounters. I like the way this works except there isn't a good border style for a door.

Do you allow guest posts?

Most e-mails I get asking this are from wholly unrelated writers who clearly haven't even read my blog. No, I don't want your guest post on time management, social media, or job interview skills. Screw you for wasting my time.

As for guest posts on games, I have not solicited them so far, but it's an idea I'm considering for the future. I'd still play all the games myself, but I might offer guest posts on alternate perspectives, different platforms, or games that I abandoned before winning.

I/my company am/is working on a forthcoming RPG? Will you play it and tell me what you think?

I hate having to say no to this, but no. I get too many requests like this, and I just don't have time for them all.

Will you help me promote my game on your blog?

Generally, no. I don't allow direct advertising or facilitate it. I might mention your game/remake/Kickstarter campaign/whatever if it has some direct relevance to a game I'm currently playing.

Is Skyrim really your favorite game? Did you really call it "the best RPG you had ever played"?
No and technically yes, but no. People keep repeating this based on an entry I made way back in 2011. I did say in that entry, "The game is fantastic--perhaps the best CRPG I have ever played." However, it is important to keep in mind:

  • At the time I am updating this FAQ, that was 10 years ago. Including those I wrote about for my blog, I had played maybe 75 games at that point; I have played almost 500 now.
  • I was writing two days after Skyrim was released. I only had about 10 hours into the game and its flaws had not fully become apparent. In subsequently postings, I was measured and even critical about aspects of the game.
  • Over time, it became clear that I look for different console experiences than computer RPG experiences. I wrote about this in relation to Final Fantasy. I've only played Skyrim on the console, and thus I no longer believe it's a good idea to compare it to computer RPG experiences.
I still think Skyrim is a fun game, and I look forward to the next installment of The Elder Scrolls, but it is not my favorite RPG. If it amuses you to use this "fact" to sling feces, however, I can't really stop you.

Any more questions about the blog in general? Write to me at!

Note: I disabled commenting on this page because it was messing up my "recent comments" feed. Previous comments are still shown below.


  1. Hi.

    I need some help to identify this game that I played a lot when i was a kid and now is no more than a distant memory.

    This is a very old game. Mid to late 80's. Came in a 5 1/4 disk. It was an MS-DOS game. I'm pretty sure it was a text-based, multiple choice strategy game. Around the time Ford Simulator, Strategic War Games and Thermonuclear War Games were sold.

    My brother claims it was a Software Labs distributed game, shareware, but they are now a company specialized in printers and stuff, so they have no ties to their old catalogues.

    You started out as a roman general (not too sure if it was an official title), you had 1,000 soldiers and 5,000 [monetary units]You needed to attack provinces and incorporate them to your empire. You had some food in stores for your troops.

    The text was in windows and you could select whatever you wanted with the keyboard. You could enter one of the text "places" that were the "buy" or "purchase" window and you could buy swords, shields, horses and food for your men. And you could sell them as well. The centurions had to be paid some gold pieces per day and they needed food, so 1/3 of a sack of food per day per soldier was spent.

    After some turns, events created some inflation, so weapons or food could have its prices raised.

    In order to attack, you had scouts and could send them to cities near and far (chalchis, hathra, carthage) to gauge their strength and their numbers. Once you knew your enemies strength, you could strike at them.

    You had to move your troops to the targeted city and you could attack in several ways:
    1 Frontal attack
    2 surround and squeeze
    3 cut off supplies
    4 incite a slave revolt.

    After your choice, you were told the result, either your victory or your loss.Many times it was "You were driven back by the inhabitants of Chalchis".

    Once you conquered the city, you could take the

    1 Money from their treasury,
    2 Take supplies get supplies (useful, like sacks of grain, horses, or worthless, like marble),
    3 garrison troops,
    4 recruit troops from the locals. If you left too little troops as a garrison, you could lose the province later on.

    And you could build in your conquered city: statues to you, to a god, to Caesar, a marketplace and a colliseum. Those buildings had a cost in money and in number of slaves needed for it. The colliseum needed 40,000 gold pieces and 40 slaves to be built. And you could offer bribes if the building costs were too much.

    If you took the money from the treasury, people on the conquered territory were unhappy. If you tried to take from their treasury again, you got a "The governor warns you not to rob his city" message. Ditto if you tried to take more supplies from them.

    It was turn based, because after a while, you got information in a newspaper with results on the Lions vs Christians battle (a whopping won for the christians 10 to 1), and how many provinces had declared independence. You could even get reports on the horses of your army that had died (half of them usually were killed because of an illness. So did your slaves, BTW) between turns.

    And if you had too much money lying around, Caesar would take it.
    And if you dind't have many statues praising caesar, he would become displeased.

    As you can see, it is a very lengthy game and I only had the shareware version (I could never bribe officials because it was only a demo). My brother and I bought it and I remember the other games being offered at the time: ford simulator, strategic war games, jump joe...

    So, what I know: mid to late 80's text based, multiple choices, little to no graphics, strategy, turn based, micromanagement, roman themed, building involved, scouts and conquest-maintenance of provinces game.

    And I only remember the name of one province: Chalchis. the only one I could never take. Even when I had more warriors with weapons than they had population

    My question is; do you remember such a game?

    Thanks for your time.

  2. Thanks for your response. It looks like it, but it's not it. It sounds a bit like the other games listed there: Rome and the Barbarians or Roman Empire, but without the screenshots, I can't be sure.
    It was one helluva game and I hope I can find it again.
    Thanks for your time.

  3. Oooh, it looks like an (early) English version of Julius Caesar. The screenshots look tantalizing and I may have forgotten more than a few details.

  4. I very much enjoyed the "special topics" postings, and would love to see more! How did you determine they weren't well received?

  5. Have to agree here - I loved those too!

    1. Thanks. This Bard's question is one for which I have a fairly weak answer: a mixture of pageviews, comments, and people making fun of me on other sites (I know: boo-hoo).

      Perhaps more important, when I read them now, I personally cringe a bit, because the earliest ones were written without enough personal background with different types of RPGs. When I started this blog 4 1/2 years ago, I wasn't really a CRPG addict. I was an addict of about a dozen CRPGs that I knew intimately and played over and over. Too much of my conception of the overall genre was based on that limited number of RPGs, a situation that didn't change until somewhere in the 50-100 game mark. If I re-wrote those posts today, it would be with a lot better sense of history.

  6. Why did you stop posting videos on YouTube? You haven't had one for 9 months.

    1. A few reasons. It takes some effort to record good game videos with proper narration (which is what I prefer). My work keeps me on the road most of the time, and I don't often have proper recording equipment with me. At home, I just outfitted a new home office, and while I love it, something about the room creates an echo when I try to record. Finally, I never felt people reading my blog really cared about video anyway.

  7. For what it's worth, I loved the Special Topics, and would be very interested if you chose to revisit the topics to discuss any new perspective you've gained since writing it. Don't rewrite them from scratch if you do, though- that way lies madness. But I'd be very interested in the evolution of your thoughts on those topics, should you have any interest in revisiting them.

  8. Interesting criteria for defining a crpg.It's interesting to see someone else's preference when it comes to rpgs. Personally I hate when the accuracy is tied to attributes,I feel it's too limiting.

  9. I was looking over your Excel list of games. I didn't see SWORDS OF TWILIGHT listed. 1989 Amiga game... It had some unique features. It was played with three characters, you could control one of them and the computer would control the other two - or you could have friends play along with you. If a friend had to leave (back in the day it was usually because his parents called and wanted him back home for dinner) you could switch his character over to computer control and keep questing. 1) characters can advance rank (level) though I believe it caps out at rank 8. 2) Combat effectiveness is based on your rank, so as you increase you land more blows and take less damage...but there are no skill sets or attributes that are linked to rank increases. 3) Characters can keep items they find, food, potions, weapons, keys...etc...

    1. It's on there. You're using the list linked from the upper-right sidebar?

  10. My bad. I see it now. Not sure how I missed it.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  11. Actually there IS a game that is missing on your master list:


    i would LOVE to see a playthrough of this masterpiece from my early childhood on your blog !

    1. Is it a CRPG under my rules? It's categorized as action/adventure everywhere else.

  12. For me personally its a Action/RPG, it has an inventory, puzzles, and quests to solve. It's up to you to decide if its worth your time :)

    1. I will add it to my list for 1984.

    2. I'd say it counts mostly as an action game with some adventure-like puzzles. Character progression is based entirely on inventory, not attributes. Of course, it's short enough that that's probably realistic. The average person isn't going to get much stronger, smarter, or faster in a couple of hours worth of tromping around an old castle. Finding a sword and some armor would make a much bigger difference.

      It barely counts as an RPG I would say, but it's a short, simple game that you could probably beat in a couple of hours. Slightly longer if you try for a perfect score.

      Or, about ten minutes if you look up which three of the items you actually need to get the gate open... Hints are on the walls, on the artwork, and even on the treasures you find.

      Flag it as one to play when you're in the mood for something that requires some thought, but not lots of math or complicated strategy.

  13. Something not covered on your faq, maybe it's mentioned in passing, in articles, if so- sorry, but don't you sometimes think about modern rpgs and think you're in a way missing out by only playing older ones? If you love rpgs, surely you've at least seen videos or pictures of skyrim, risen series, etc.?

    1. I've played some of them. I sank a lot of hours into Skyrim, have recently been playing Fallout: New Vegas. I played the two Dragon Age games when they came out and tried a few others, like Dragon's Dogma and Dark Souls. I just don't blog about them.

      As for whether I'm "missing out" on others, what you have to understand is that graphics and sound--the two major things that tend to improve in any given era--are the two things I like least about RPGs. Many of these older games are honestly more fun for the other elements.

  14. Hi,

    i've got one question: which software tool do you use for drawing your maps? Thank you in advance.


    1. I can't believe I forgot to add that. It gets asked all the time. I just put an entry on the list but this is the answer:

      "Microsoft Excel. I adjust the row and column widths until they make squares, then use the border-drawing tools to add walls, doors, secret doors, and such. Letters and symbols in the cells annotate treasures and encounters. I like the way this works except there isn't a good border style for a door."

    2. Excel, not bad! ��
      Maybe this is worth a look:

  15. Rhetorical Questions: Why was I not aware of this blog before!? Where have you been in my life? :D

    Thank you for a wonderful blog and curses upon you for pretty much ruining my free time in the next few weeks....

    1. Καλώς ήρθατε! Space it out, man. The blog will be here for years.

  16. Will you be covering TRPGs and/or SRPGs with single player campaigns? Several of the earlier games you took on do have some strong strategic elements, and a number of strategy games actually have strong enough character development to meet your criteria for an RPG (if not necessarily excel at them). For example, several entries in the Warlords series, Warcraft 3, and Heroes of Might and Magic IV seem to meet the character development, inventory, and statistical combat requirements.
    (In a sense, the entire Heroes series meets the requirements better than King's Bounty which you already covered since hero statistics and skills influence how well armies fight; but Heroes IV ups the ante by having the heroes appear on the battlefield and fight in person.)
    A lot of TRPG requirements would seem to meet the standard as well. X-Com: Ufo Defense, for instance, has extensive soldier statistics which directly determine combat effectiveness, and an inventory system wherein you enhance your tactical options by research.

    1. As long as someone tagged it as an RPG on one of my sources, it's on my list, and as long as it has my three elements, I'll play it. The games you mention are all on there.

  17. Ever considered collecting some of your archived posts in a Kindle ebook format? I love reading your stuff and would gladly pay a few bucks to have it in an easy to access format.

    1. It's a possibility. Even that is a bigger project than you might think. It's not just a matter of copying and pasting; there's a lot of editing and formatting work to be done, creation of an index, writing an introduction and some other original content. It's a tough project to add to my list during a time that I have trouble keeping up with my regular blogging.

    2. Fair point! Well, just know that if you ever make it happen, at least one person will be waiting to buy up any/all ebook versions you do :)

    3. Recently found your site after finishing Ultima 5, and wanted to find some relevant reading material. This blog is great! Although I'm not aware of the state of the academic world in terms of video game studies, the depth of firsthand knowledge here is very impressive, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were scholarly types out there who would be seriously interested in seeing your work published to some degree. I think having an in-depth chronology written out that expands on gameplay mechanics and historical context, the way you do, would be a great reference source for a lot of people. There may even be someone out there (a publishing house with an editor, maybe) who would be willing to help you edit, compile and organize, or any other of the tedious work you are concerned about.

      I don't mean to pry or make assumptions, but I feel on a certain level that you see your work as more of a hobby than a serious exercise... don't downplay yourself! Great stuff! Roger Ebert didn't study cinema in school, and his writing is more personal than academic, but that didn't stop him from being an important influence in exposing lesser known works and inspiring people who want to learn more... your work could serve a similar function, especially if you pursue publishing and market your writing to a larger audience.

      Just sayin :)

    4. Quite often I read mainly your blog on the New Kindle Paperwith (using its experimental browser) and it works well enough.

      I am doing this as a last resort as all the other devices are not "available" at the moment, but still.

      I believe that fewer and fewer people have the older Kindle generation without web browser ...

    5. And now I found this:

      "Sendtoreader" is a web application to send web pages
      to your Kindle, instantly and to read later ...

      I have a "Kindle" now about two years and I did not know that this option exists.

  18. Are you working on your soft skills?

    1. Ha. That guy. I don't know what his problem was. It's like he was out looking for a fight.

      The funny thing is that my "soft skills" probably do need some work; I just don't think that it was evident in that thread.

  19. When two games tie with the same score, how do you decide where it falls in the rankings? (Like when you say 78/110 in the final rating.)

    1. If two games have the same score, the one from the earlier year ranks higher. If two games from the same year have the same score, the one that took the shortest amount of time ranks higher.

  20. Hi Chet,

    I think that I have found some obscure game that isnt on your master list.

    Liberal Crime Squad: A Liberal Adventure

    1. Oh, ok :)

      Sorry my mistake.

      I was looking in 2002., but its seem that version 3.09 was released in 2004.

    2. It may not be a mistake. MobyGames has it as 2004, but the copyright on the game starts in 2002. I'll have to do some more research to identify the year of the first stable release.

  21. Hello,

    I find one more interesting obscure roguelike game, released in 1996.


    And download links for different versions: (v1.0f)!yJZXVDBR!RocSwxEEDt3c7fPNJ8Xa1RL5w2liEAq0CJgM7Y2YuOk (v1.0g) (v1.0m)

    Review here:

  22. Hi, Just a question regarding mapping in Excel. Do you have Excel open on the same computer and move one pace then map then another pace and the map, flipping between tasks?

    Trying to work out a good method to mapping the old games as I play so I don't get darn lost all the time :D Any suggestions most welcome.

    1. That's mostly how I do it. I don't do one-square-at-a-time so much as "as many squares as I can keep in my head." Big, empty rooms and long hallways are quicker to map than smaller areas with lots of encounters.

      I prefer it when I'm at home and can have the map book open on a second monitor. When I'm on the road, trying to arrange the game window, the map window, my notes, and maybe the game manual is very tight.

      Games that capture the mouse are always harder to map than those that don't use the mouse. Every emulator has a different shortcut for releasing the mouse and I'm always getting messed up.

  23. Are you going to blog Deathlord in the future?

    1. Yes. I missed it on the first pass because it didn't have a DOS release, but I'll pick it up when I revisit 1987 on my secondary list.

  24. What a wonderful blog. Thanks for doing it. I was a very similar RPG player to your good self between the ages of 8 and 20 (say from Moria and Larn up to Baldur's Gate) thanks to my father's influence. I did also become expert in few rather than well-versed in all - I still play Moria from time to time now!

    Delighted to see that my failure to complete Moria in particular isn't necessarily down to my own incompetence as the game was made more difficult as time went on. Needless to say that I'll be telling my father that that's how he finished it in '84 and I couldn't in '88!

  25. This is outstanding! I just discovered your blog. I had been entertaining the idea of doing something similar, but you are clearly the best person for this sort of task. I was especially excited to see the scope of the project. I thought to myself "Oh yeah? I'll bet you're not reviewing Moebius, or Deathlord! Um... oh! Well apparently you are!" I'm enjoying reading your old posts, and taking a trip down memory lane. Good stuff. Keep it up!

    1. Glad you stumbled your way here. Enjoy the entries!

  26. Hiya, I noticed some classics missing from your list. I was wondering if they'd be eligible for inclusion?

    The Sega Mega Drive ("Genesis" to Americans) was notable in its time for its lack of RPGs. Outside of its Shining metaseries and the Phantasy Star quadrilogy (which never sold well but always had a huge following -- IV especially is considered an all-time great game), there was almost no RPGs for it at all. Nintendo got all the cool Squaresoft RPGs like Final Fantasy.

    Anyway, Sega has been porting a lot of its classic games to new systems for a long time now. Well, they finally started caring about the PC! This is part of a wider trend of porting old console RPGs to computers.

    There is a list here: -- I see many games there are omitted from your list. Most of them are from the 2000s and 2010s so they're a ways away.
    But the Sega classics (namely Phantasy Star II-IV and the Shining games) were released from 1990 to 1994. Would you be up for including them? If you wish, I can put them in your spreadsheet for you.

    1. As long as these are true PORTS, and not just Windows-capable packages that use console emulators, they deserve to be on the list. There's been some confusion in the past about whether they still require a console emulator to run.

    2. Oh hmm. After a bit of research it seems that they're emulator wrappers. The emulator is allegedly pretty much perfect, but yeah, looks like they aren't strictly speaking *native* IBM PC-compatible (i.e. DOS, Windows, etc) games. Then again, they are officially-supported Windows versions of the game. Idk, it's up to you. Guess we'll have to wait till 1997 for the first proper JRPG otherwise (aside from Ys, but they are more actiony anyway).

  27. Hello,

    Thank you very much for your whole blog. It's a part of the human culture, a museum, and many many other things.

    Would you mind if I tell you something about advertisement and donations ?

    You said in your FAQ that asking for donations feels "crass" to you, and that people who wants to donate may just click on the ads, which seems "less crass".

    I think it is the totally opposite.

    Putting ads is like "Reader, you seem to be interested in what I write. So, please, read this text telling that the product FluzzleShubble is made of pure awesomeness". It is like telling us stuff about unrelated subjects whereas we want stuff from yourself. It is like changing a conversation subject. It looks crass to me.

    Asking for donation is a little like changing a conversation subject, but much less than talking about FluzzleShubble or whatever. You are still talking a little about you and what you do in this blog.

    People should not be ashamed of asking money. That's not begging, that's not even asking, that's a trade. You give us something in return : culture. Video game culture.

    the bakers, the grocers, the FAIs, the booksellers, the cinemas are all asking money for goods or for culture. It does not make them crass. Why would it be different for you ? You are even less crass, because we are not obliged to pay you.

    I would prefer to have someone who tries to empty my wallet than someone who tries to fill my brain with crap. I OWN my wallet. I AM my brain. Isn't it less crass to alter the possessions of someone, than to alter his/her nature ?

    Anyway, do what you want. Feel free to not consider my tries of putting "ads-are-bad" crap in your personal brain. But there are many ways to trade money with people : paypal, flattr, patreon, crypto-moneys, ... One of them may suit you.

    Once again, thank you for your blog.

    1. I appreciate your point of view. Intellectually, I get it and agree, but viscerally, I feel better about something passive like ads than actually putting out my hat and asking for money. I'll think about it, though.

    2. So, it may end up in an epic fight between your intellect and your visceras. I will let you handle this. May the best one win ! I keep the hope to see one day some change on your blog concerning the ads.

    3. Hello, I just came here to thank you for this blog! You only can decide about the donations, but please consider that a lot of people are paid to produce content, and I am pretty sure you buy books, music or any other form of culture, and find it normal. I don’t want to click on your ads because I think this system is broken. I just want to support people producing things I like by paying.

    4. My two cents -- Patreon, or something like it, makes a lot of sense in the context of your project, which is ongoing with fairly regular updates. You could stick something on the sidebar or FAQ. The people who want to support you with their wallet will find it, the people who don't will probably ignore it like an ad.

  28. Not sure this is the right place to post this, but recently came upon your blog and just wanted to say it is fantastic. Great job and keep it up! Especially enjoyed your blogs about the old gold box games, made me pick them up again myself from gog! I haven't read your entire blog history yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed everything thus far so again, thank you and keep 'em coming!

    1. There's no wrong place for positive feedback! Sorry you happened to come along in the middle of an unintended dry spell, but I promise I'm keeping it up.

    2. hey, no worries... Our hobbies tend to have the unfortunate downside of being curbed now and again. I obviously was away from the blog for a while due to work schedule keeping me busy alongside coaching my sons football team, but I'm back now and enjoying catching up!

  29. Add Exile and Avernum series by Jeff Vogel SpiderWeb software started in the mid 90s to your list (if not already recommended). Avernum is a remake of exile and in my opinion not as good.
    The first one of these games I played was Exile 3 escape from the Pit and this led me into buying all games in the series. You can start anywhere in the series as the back story will always show up in dialogue in game.
    Off subject a little but first Rpg I ever played was Pool of Radiance and though I haven"t played it in over 20 years I still remember it to the tiny detail in my head. The Exile series left me with that same childhood awe almost some ten plus years later.

  30. Add the exile/ Avernum (remake of exile) series by Jeff Vogel of spiderweb software to your list. To sum it up I played pool of radiance at the age of 8 and wouldn't trade that experience for anything I played Exile 3 "escape from the pit" at 20 and found that same childhood euphoria I'm now 33 and both games are still fresh in my memory.
    After playing Exile 3 (the game is huge) I bought all the other games in the series. I felt the sequels actually got slightly better.

  31. I'm sure you get this all the time, but you're fantastic. I'm also a 40 year old CRPG player with memories going waaaaay back to techy looking monochrome games played on god knows what. If I had the spare time and no kids I'd have set off to do a website similar, only to discover this one and give up. :D

    I've been working on an RPG for the last 5 years (I know you're not interested, that's not where this is going), and it has really given me a new appreciation of just how much work it is to build something like this, even (or especially) those put together in the dark ages (the 1970s).

    If you haven't seen it already, the book Dungeons and Desktops is a great read on CRPGs and one that drove me to research some of the games it discusses, ultimately me to your site and many enjoyable hours of reading.

    Enough about all that, keep up the good work. So nostalgic now :).

    1. You can never get too much positive feedback! I appreciate the comments, Jim, and I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I did purchase that book some time ago, but I don't take it on the road with me (where I am almost all the time), so I can't refer to it as often as I'd like. I should get an electronic version.

    2. Oh, and feel free to tell me about your RPG. I AM interested; I just can't promise to play/review/promote it.

  32. Hi,

    New follower, name's Matt.

    My golden age of gaming started around 1985 when I got my first computer. Atari 800XL on sale for $99. My first game was "Enchanter". My first CRPG was Ultima IV.

    My golden age ended around c.2004 when Dungeon Siege came out. I'm not sure why, but that's when things just started to change for me and my disinterest began.

    c.2016 I found on the interwebs the eXo DOS/Win3.x game archives. (Around 1TB of games during that "golden age" for me.)

    I really look forward now to playing all those CRPG's that I wanted to but either didn't have the time or money. Your hard work on this site will truly help. I look forward to trolling around and doing a lot of reading here.


    1. Welcome to this little corner of the tubes, Matt!

      My first computer was an IBM-compatible XT (which my Dad bought for $1500AUD). First RPG was Pirates! or EotB.

    2. Thanks for writing, Matt, and welcome. U4 is a tough act to follow, and I wouldn't wish it as anyone's first RPG!

    3. U4 is not too bad as a first RPG, I was maybe 13 when I played it for a summer, not understanding the real goal of the game, but just hacking&slaying and exploring the world. But this exploration of the relatively open world was fascinating. The abstract graphics helped the imagination contrary to the later vector graphic 3D Ultimas. So U4 is - even without understanding the backstory - great in itself in exploring a new world in your own mind. So yes, U4 is very tough to follow, but you can just make your own story. Only after reading your blog entries about U4 I finally understood what I missed in U4... :-O

      My favourite is obviously Phantasie III, which is surely much more accessible than U4. Luckily this - or Pool of Radiance - was my second CRPG in my life, played on a 1987 Amiga 500 with a 4 (!) digit serial number which I still have today.

  33. Trust Google: (1986 game Swords of Glass)
    Publisher:Keypunch Software, Inc.

    Q: What happened to Keypunch Software?

    1. I found that ages ago. I wrote to the owner of the company and he declined to respond. I meant it when I said that this one couldn't be solved by Googling.

  34. This is just a general comment, I am SO HAPPY to have found your blog, and youtube postings. I can´t get enough of them, I love RPGs and you´re helping me to tap into ones I didn´t get to play when younger or didn´t even know existed. Your descriptions are fantastic and your voicing in youtube gameplays are great, slow and easy to listen to, everything well explained. Please keep going as long as you can. You´ve inspired me to find time to go back and play even more games of this nature. My personal favorite is the Magic Candle series. If you took donations, I would be giving you some without further ado. Anyhow, thanks for what you do!

    1. I'm always happy to hear from a satisfied reader. I will keep going as long as I can.