Dungeon Master (Second Review)

Title		Dungeon Master (Second Review)
Game Type	RPG
Company		FTL
Players		1
Compatibility	All (AGA patch maybe necessary for earlier versions)
Submission	Wolfgang Unger (Not responsible for the dodgy translation)

Although the game appeared in 1989, it is for me, still one of the best
ever games on any computer - an RPG of real class!
 The player controls four characters, in real time, in a Dungeon of 14
levels or so, owned by the evil Lord of Chaos. Your task is to finally
destroy it .
 These four characters already created, you can select from 24 altogether.
The characters develop themselves further during the game, and those
characteristics, which are most often used improve most rapidly.   Magical
ability can also be improved, again this is done through practice.  The
characters also suffer from hunger and thirst.  Only by eating and
drinking regularly can one prevent the premature exodus of your heroes.
One can often eat certain types of monster after they have been killed.
Skeletons are not so nutritious, but fat, fleshy worms nourish each
character very nicely!.  While hunting these worms is often very
difficult, they taste all the better when you do catch them.
The Dungeon is shown in the most beautiful 3d.  If for example four
skeletons approach the player, you see them coming really slowly from the
depths of the passage until they`re on top of you.  Many logical puzzles
(often copied since this game) and a refined magic system (for which one
needs the manual) are only two of the further strengths of the program.
The degree of difficulty is at first quite simple, but becomes somewhat
trickier later.  However the game is not so very difficult to solve, and I
finally made it to the end!
In the darker areas light is obviously needed.  This can be procured
either by torches or by magic.  It is worth mentioning that there are not
only the two illumination states of dark or bright, but also innumerable
gradations.  Thus it becomes slowly ever more dark, before a torch
goes out completely or a spell loses its effect.  It looks genuinely dark.
The whole game is controlled completely with the mouse.  The user control
is very simple but nevertheless involved. Without use of the keyboard one
can examine articles within seconds, eat, throw, drop, or pick up.
You can`t easily say what it is about DM that is so fascinating. You have
to play it for some time in order to feel the fascination of the game.
This feeling of genuinely being there in a deep Dungeon is achieved by
very few other games.  Simply brilliant.  Some distance away I`ve heard a
few mummies moving around. Apparently they discovered me, because they
slowly approached. My warrior threw a burning torch on the monsters, but
mummies apparently wear asbestos bandages and refuse to burn.  With my
torch now gone, I`m in blackness. I quickly cast a light spell and make a
hasty exit. The mummies pursue me, but can only move quite slowly.  Before
I fight them again I should find some decent weaponry.  Or I could lure
the mummies under a door,  letting it fall on them repeatedly.  Hehe.
However the monsters are equipped in DM with a certain intelligence:  Thus
they may flee if they are under a door, or in a strategically unfavorable
position, hiding themselves for the time being. Or they`ll pursue the
party, if they feel themselves to be at an advantage.

You have to admire FTL`s performance even more if you consider how long
the game has already been on the market.  You only need to look at the
competition at that time!  FTL (Faster than Light) was really light-years
ahead!  DM need not be embarassed even today! Innumerable games tried in
later years to copy the user interface of DM. Only very few came close to
the quality of the original.  One of the best clones is definitely The Eye
of the Beholder series from SSI/Westwood.  On the Amiga there are parts 1
and 2.  Also Xenomorph or Black Crypt is quite playable. Further,
Abandoned Places 1+2, Captive, Knightmare as well as Crystal Dragon (more
or less) availed themselves shamelessly of the original.

Dungeon master appeared first on the Atari ST (1988), almost one year
later it came out on the Amiga.  It was one of the first programs, which
did not run without a memory expansion of 1MB.  The appearance of the game
was a substantial reason for me to buy a 512KB memory expansion for my
Amiga 500.  A version for 512KB was announced, however it never appeared.
In 1992 the Amiga version was brought back on the market. The Game
(version 3.6) does not run on all Amigas without problems, but some
details are improved, for example there are now three languages (German,
French and English)  on the disk. Further more there is now an end of game
sequence.  Many players of the original were annoyed at the complete
absence of this previously.  The only gross error of the game is it still
does not support hard disk installation. The Patch, which functioned with
the old version problem-free, does not run any longer. This is no
surprise, since the program was modified a lot. The disk now has
completely different files. The program only accesses the disk once.
Surprisingly this was also the case with the original. This is worth an
explanation. DM loads when starting the game for quite a long time,
however there are almost no disk accesses during the entire remainder of
the game!  Also with it I ask myself, how the programmers fitted
everything into only 1MB! The player does not have to forego good sound
effects. These become ever quieter as you get further from the source of
the sound, as well as being in stereo. High suspense is also possible,
if for example the party approaches a bend and you hear the faint noises
of a nearby monster. If the party goes now goes around the corner, it can
be that those Dungeon inhabitants are right in front of you. Added to the
visual impact, now the noise of the monsters becomes much louder, which
brings an additional effect of terror.

Saving takes place on a separate disk.  This is possible at any time, but
unfortunately only one save fits on a disk.  For saving, an external drive
can be used, so that one can get along during the entire play completely
without disk changes. I can recommend This program to everyone interested
in real time RPGs. DM is probably first-class in every regard.  A
milestone in the history of the Fantasy RPG!  There is also a DM utility
with which one can open locked doors or have the plans of all levels

Some time after DM the extension disk Chaos Strikes Back appeared.
It concerns the continuation of the DM Story.  As well as the actual game,
now the ability to paint the character pictures yourself exists. The
degree of difficulty is extremely high!  The program is recommended only
for hardboiled DM veterans.  2 disks, copy protection also on the new
version, which works with the new Amigas without problems. With most of
Psygnosis` re-releases of DM, CSB is included, as an additional bonus,
with the appropriate manual. I call that VALUE for money!

 A few press opinions of DM at that time:

Happy computer 2/88:  92%
ASM hit 4/88 (atmosphere: 12/12)
Happy computer Special 2
(PowerPlay):  Super! (95%)

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