Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
13 January 2006
Dungeon Crawl, Then and Now
I put out the moolah a few years ago for a complete, in-box copy of AD&D Pool of Radiance for the Commodore 64. A while back my brother lent me his copy of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II for the PlayStation 2. Spent time with both last night, and felt a little dejected afterward. Neither one was satisfying, although I enjoyed the newer game more, overall.

Sure, they're not the same game. Pool of Radiance is all about managing party and combat minutiae, without a decent keyboard or mouse interface. Dark Alliance II is about hacking, slashing, and looting with a comfortable controller. One is too complex for its interface, while the other is too simple but easy to control. One has the depth of a full party, while the other is a loner's game.

I wish I had something between the two. Ideas? Especially from someone who's played any of the old SSI Gold Box AD&D RPGs?
--Matt Matthews at 21:26
Comment [ 15 ]

Comments on this post:

...while the other's a loner's game.

Only when you play it alone. I and a friend had a ball playing the first Dark Alliance co-op one night a week over the course of a month.

I had actually picked it up because we're both kind of embarrassed about being former D&D geeks, and we figured it'd be good for a laugh. But we totally got sucked into actually seeing everything we'd just had described to us twenty years ago ("Look! It's a Gelatinous Cube! Aieee - that thing stings!") and wondering what cool loot we'd pick up just around the next corner that we wound up having a great time.

It's not the most brilliant game out there, but it's hella fun co-op.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13 January, 2006 23:43  

A fair point, anon. Back in the day, Bob and I had a pretty good time playing the first BG:DA.

My trouble now is that I don't make videogame player connections easily and I don't live near any friends I already know who play games. If you're not in college or a workplace that is hospitable to such things, how exactly do you strike up the relationships needed?

So, given that I'm playing alone, I'd like a game like BG:DA but with a party I can manage and (what I felt was) the much deeper quest structure, finer but broader world structure (world->city->area->building), and meaningful advancement of Pool of Radiance.

Something like that.

By Blogger jvm, at 14 January, 2006 00:08  

I played BG:DA alone, and it was OK. I played Champions of Norrath 2 player... and I dunno. It was still OK but by the end of it I decided that "I hate the stupid Snowblind engine", and that I wasn't going to try DA2 or Champions 2.

(Though I picked up "The Bard's Tale" for peanuts a while back. Haven't actually played it yet, but apparently it uses the Snowblind engine too.)

WildTangent makes (or distributes, I dunno) a decent Diablo clone, but unfortunately WT installs crud on your PC during the install that it doesn't tell you about. While it may not actually be spyware, it's at least sleazeware.

I'm a sucker for dungeon crawls, though. I'd love to have some new dungeon crawly RPG to play, something like any number of other C64/Apple 2 games I could name, but with a modern interface. I don't care for modern/Japan-style RPGs, and it would be nice to have SOMETHING a little deeper than Diablo going on.

-Adam Vandenberg

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 January, 2006 11:03  

Try the X-Men Legends games. Basically BG DA with a party.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 January, 2006 19:44  

X-Men Legends? Really. This I did not know.

I think I passed by this today while browsing my local Rhino Games. I'll check the reviews and put it on my list.


By Blogger jvm, at 14 January, 2006 19:55  

Have you played Temple of Elemental Evil? Its a little glitchy, but it simulates the pen and paper game even better than the old gold box games, with the benefit of a very sophisticated mouse-driven interface. And its really, truly turn-based, unlike PC Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. A bit hard to find tho.

By Blogger Casey, at 14 January, 2006 22:58  

Regrettably, I'm a console, Mac, or GNU/Linux guy, which means a Windows game won't do me much good. :^(

Thanks for the suggestion, though.

I think JohnH was saying that someone remade Pool of Radiance using Neverwinter Nights or something like that. Anyone else heard of a remake like that? (NWN I could play on something besides Windows...)

By Blogger jvm, at 14 January, 2006 23:06  

A quick Google search found the NWN module at:

By Blogger JohnH, at 15 January, 2006 00:51  

Ok, so now we need someone we trust to tell us whether it's any good. ;^)

I guess I'll just break down and get NWN finally...

By Blogger jvm, at 15 January, 2006 01:03  

Okay, I checked through the screengrabs and review of NWN at IMG, and what's significantly different from Ultima Online, other than graphics improvements?

By Blogger rufbo, at 15 January, 2006 17:19  

NWN is single-player or multiplayer online, has add-ons developed by third parties, and doesn't require money to play online. I don't think it has a persistent world version like UO. At least that's my understanding of the main differences.

By Blogger jvm, at 15 January, 2006 18:42  


a kraut here...

i was addicted to the goldbox games back then... (well actually to any decent rpg which did not only consist of crawling dungeons (although ultima underworlds were a blast...) and had some kind of world around the dungeons...

althoug nwn lacks the tactical elements with party members in fights and is appealing in much the same way the gold box games did and even provides you with a great editing interface.

i did not like the storyline of the main box too much.. but the buyable addons were a blast in terms of story and keeping the player and you can get them all together in a budget "goty" edition box.



By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16 January, 2006 10:38  

"NWN" was ok if you don't mind smashing crates and barrels around every corner. Seriously, we need to end that chestnut. "Bard's Tale" makes a good joke out of it, but the irony is, you're still busting barrels all the time.

"TOEE" may have the worst interface of all time. The game was ambitious in that it tried to get the ruleset down really well, but bugs and that awful circular click-menu monstrosity just killed the game.

I would suggest the original "Baldur's Gate" and "BG II" if you haven't played those. Also "Icewind Dale"...the list goes on. Lots of Infinity Engine games have, I think, the kind of thing you're looking for.

By Blogger Alex, at 17 January, 2006 12:39  

Michael keeps threatening to send me his BG and BG2 discs. Nothing in the mail...yet... ;^)

By Blogger jvm, at 17 January, 2006 12:42  

Fucker, fine, send my wife an email and she'll remind me. (judith@i-m.o).

Blazing Lasers
All my Mac games

By Blogger Michael, at 17 January, 2006 12:46  

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