Time for the Intellivision! AD&D has got to be my favorite game for the Intellivision. This is one of the granddaddies of adventure games so the plot isn't too compelling. Here's the entire plot in one sentence: Three archer dudes go to the legendary Cloudy Mountain to recover the Crown of Kings from the evil Winged Dragons. It's a nice basic plot that sets you up for the game. Now if your expecting the complexity and depth of the D&D board game you will be sorely disappointed since this plays nothing like a traditional Role Playing Game. If you wan't a more in depth and complex game go for the sequel AD&D Treasure of Tarmin. But we're focusing on the original today, so lets dive into the visuals.
This is a very simple looking game, the most colorful and complex part of the game is the map screen that shows up when you start a new game. Everything on the maps screen is distinguishable, you can tell that those are mountains or that those are trees, the only thing on the map screen that you may not figure out what it is at first is the walls, but once you know they're walls it's kinda obvious. There is a little variation on the map screen... some mountains are black and some are brown, the black mountains indicate that they are passable, the brown mountains are impossibly impassable. When you move your party of characters next to a black mountain it will change color to indicate whether or not it contains an item, grey mountains contain only arrows, but any other color may contain tools necessary for the completion of your quest. The sprites for all the enemies and items are simplistic in nature but recognizable, when it comes to the enemies recognition can get a bit fuzzy. The Dragon and Demon enemies look rather goofy, since when were dragons bipedal? And the Demon enemies? I just call the spaghetti heads 'cause that's exactly what they look like! The dungeon graphics are extremely basic... there are several tiles that will be repeated over and over again to increase the size of the dungeon... This will often get you lost since landmarks are about as common as swords in this game, in that
there are none. The colors of the dungeons are rather obnoxious as well, green and yellow, now that I think about it, this game would probably make a Green Bay Packer fan very happy, but that's beside the point.
The programmers of this game were very clever... They made sound integral to the game-play. Without sound your game is gonna be mighty frustrating. Since the dungeons are procedurally generated not all of it is displayed at once, as youe explore new rooms will appear, it's kind of like line of sight, if you can't initially see it it's not there, at least when you start. By listening to the sounds you will be able to hear if there is a dangerous enemy hiding in and unexplored room waiting to kill you, allowing you to preemptively strike and get the upper hand. But this amazing feature does have one built in flaw... The bats! Whenever there is a bat on the screen all you will hear is the fluttering of it's wings. You can either kill the bat and waste one of your precious arrows (I'll get to that later) or run blindly through the maze and potentially get torn apart by demons or giant orange cobras. Besides the imperative-to-your-survival hearing the rest of the sounds are pretty standard for the Intellivision, bleeps and bloops, and a pretty standout roaring sound for the dragon enemies, seriously that sounds good!
This IS a game so naturally it has game-play, and in this case pretty standout game-play. Since you quest it to travel to Cloudy Mountain which is located on the other side of the map, you will naturally have to pass many obstacle which litter your path. Impassable mountain ranges, dense forests, raging rivers, and unscalable walls will all block your path. Thankfully the objects needed to bypass all these obstacles are located in the merciless mountain mazes. The items you'll need to find are: the boat, the key, and the axe. You'll also find quivers of arrows in these mazes and if you have any common sense you will pick those up since every member of your party is an archer. There are no classes in this game only the archer, mainly because that was the only class that would fit with this rather unique control style. On the map screen you move your party by pressing the arrows on the controller overlay, in the dungeons you move with the control disc and shoot with the arrows on the overlay. This is quite nice since you can shoot behind you while running away from voracious rabid rats and the like. There is a pick up button, I don't know what that does. There is also the count arrows button which when pressed a clicking sound plays, every click indicates an arrow. This is another clever use of sound which I really like, in the heat of combat you don't want a number flashing up on the screen distracting you, this keeps arrow
counting efficient. You will notice on the overlay that the top three buttons are numbered, these indicate difficulty, with 3 being hard mode and 1 being easy mode. if you press the control disc you will get a fourth difficultly, I like to call it "you are going to die in the first dungeon on the first enemy because this difficulty is absolutely unfair" mode. You can also press the side buttons to run but lets be honest, you're never going to do that. The final dungeon of the game is Cloudy Mountain, this is the final dungeon in the game... All you have to do to win is find the two halves of The Crown Of Kings, each half is guarded by a Winged Dragon which take three arrows to kill, I hope you stocked up. When the dragons are slain and you collect the second half of the crown an awesome noise plays and the game is over, you're taken back to the map screen where a graphic of a crown flashes on Cloudy Mountain.
There isn't much payoff to this game. yeah the ending kind of sucks but I don't really mind that since the fun I had beating the game itself is reward enough. I don't see a lot of love for this game out there, most of the love is directed towards the sequel. If you look at this game like I looked at Atari's Pac-Man... Don't think of this as a D&D game, just think of it as an adventure game and you'll be just fine. I know I left a lot out of this review but I don't want write a novel so I think I'll just end it here.