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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin video game for the Intellivision console

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin video game for the Intellivision console

Box art for the Intellivision video game Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin.

Some months ago I wrote about Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain, the 1982 video game by Mattel for the Intellivision home gaming console, so it only seemed right I also come up with an article about the followup game, 1983’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin.

Right off the bat, Treasure of Tarmin is graphically a massively different game than Cloudy Mountain. For one thing, most of the action is in a three-dimensional, first-person view of the various mazes the player’s character must traverse; while this wasn’t the first video game to offer first-person action (that game would be 1972’s Maze War), this viewpoint was rare at the time for video games and, looking back, seems almost an impossibility for the limits of a home console during that era. So, visually, Treasure of Tarmin offered something not quite unique but almost so to the kids sitting at home tapping away on their Intellivision controllers.

More than just graphics, however, Treasure of Tarmin offered a depth and complexity of gameplay that was not common at the time, and again was something not generally thought of as possible for a home console of that period.

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Video game history: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for Intellivison

Video game history: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for Intellivison

To those of us old enough to remember, there is little doubt the king of home video game consoles in the early 1980s was the Atari 2600. However, Atari had stiff competition from Mattel Electronics in the form of the Intellivision. First released to the public in 1979, the Intellivison console was perhaps ahead of its time. The Intellivision didn’t even have a proper joystick, something almost unheard of at the time, but came with controllers that used a directional pad and a numeral keyboard. Also, the Intellivision had far superior graphics to any other consoles available when it first hit stores, and it was the first home system to utilize a 16-bit processor.

More importantly, however, was the fact the Intellivision had some darn good games. One of those games was titled Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Mattel had received a license to make AD&D video games from TSR Inc., then the owners of all things D&D, and Mattel wasted little time in bringing such games to the public. The first console game, of course, was titled Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, which would be renamed a year later to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain when a sequel game was released.

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Steamed – Gaming here at Black Gate

Steamed – Gaming here at Black Gate

Hudsucker_RobinsElevatorEDITEDThe pay phone on the wall by the door into the dungeon…cellar…basement…journalist’s suite below Chicago’s permafrost layer rang at the Black Gate World Headquarters. I vaulted over the wood plank that rested on two sawhorses, which served as my desk. The last person who hadn’t answered before the third ring had been sent downstairs. ‘Downstairs’ was rumored to be the lair of a beast that Conan wouldn’t be able to defeat.

Black Gate World Headquarters. Home of the world’s preeminent fantasy magazine.”

“Who is this?” barked the voice of John O’Neill, Founder, editor, publisher, CEO, CFO, and overall Grand Poobah of Black Gate. I could think of a three-letter acronym beginning with ‘S.’ “Is that you, Bryne?”

I took a breath. I had been writing for Black Gate for going on seven years now, and he still got my name wrong. I had given up trying to correct him after the second year. I figured, as long as I remained on the payroll, it didn’t really matter. Not that I actually got paid.

“Yes, sahib.”

“What are you doing down there?”

“Just working on a column, sir.”

“What do you mean, man? You’re in the office on a Sunday, working on a column?”

I caught myself. “Working on three columns, sir. I finished two yesterday.”

“That’s better. Thought I was going to have to reassign some stories from that Ted guy. Can’t have you coasting on past accomplishments.” He paused. “Of course, we’re a team here – no individual egos.”

Yours is certainly big enough for the rest of us, I thought.

“What was that, Bryne?”

“I didn’t say anything, sir.”

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Video Game Review: Tunnels & Trolls Adventures

Video Game Review: Tunnels & Trolls Adventures

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I’ve been hankering for some old school pen and paper adventuring lately, but not having a gaming group here in Madrid (or indeed any gaming group for a few decades now), I did what old school gamers always used to do when they found themselves all on their lonesome — I played some solo Tunnels & Trolls adventures.

But I did it with a modern twist. I played Tunnels & Trolls Adventures, a free app by MetaArcade. The app takes you through various classic adventures such as Sewers of Oblivion and Buffalo Castle and runs very smoothly. It’s been decades since I’ve played T&T, so I read all the intro material, which explained the game quickly and concisely and had me playing within minutes.

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