Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ads of Dragon: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin

Issue #80 (December 1983) brings us this intriguing ad for an D&D video game cartridge for Mattel's Intellivision:
I never owned an Intellivision, but my best friend at the time did and we shared a love for all things D&D, so he -- or, rather, his parents -- purchased a copy of Treasure of Tarmin when it came out. The game is very similar, in broad terms, to the earlier Crypts of Chaos produced for the Atari VCS. It's a first-person perspective dungeon crawl, with the goal of amassing treasure as you wander through a maze filled with deadly monsters. Unlike Crypts of Chaos, it's a lot more colorful and thus easier to navigate, but it's not much more sophisticated in terms of gameplay, at least as far as I recall.

At the time, what really irked me about Treasure of Tarmin was that, despite its being called a D&D game -- indeed an Advanced D&D game -- was how little it actually had to do with my favorite RPG. Most of the monsters are pretty generic, consisting of giant insects, dragons, and a few random undead. Likewise, the game didn't use any rules derived from D&D, not even hit points. Instead, your character has two pools of points, called "war" and "spiritual" and, no, I don't remember what each of them did. There were no classes, races, or ability scores, let alone spells or magic items associated with D&D. In short, it was a "Dungeons & Dragons" game in name only.

That annoyed me in 1983 and I don't feel much more well inclined toward it now.

19 comments:

  1. Never had an Intellivision either, just an Atari (and don't get me started on those Coleco-users!), so I missed this game.

    Interesting page that collects images and sprites from the game. Here's the enemies page, giving a rather large list of potential foes, many found in D&D but most are pretty generic:

    http://www.zebeth.com/playplanet/enemies.html

    I will say without a doubt those dwarves look even less like Tolkien's vision...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Swords and Serpents was an excellent top-down dungeon crawler for the Intellivision. It was meant for two player co-op, with one player as the wizard and the other as a knight.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is one that went right past me, even though I had a subscription.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had an Intellivision and the first AD&D game, a top down, is still to this day one of the scariest games I've ever played. Yes it was just a cheesy two-bit game, but it was nerve-wracking! The map only unveiled as you walked along, there were monster sounds to hint what was close. If you tried to blindly fire an arrow at the noise, sometimes it rebounded back at you! The dragons were FAST and all the critters were relentless. Worst of all, the spiders stole your arrows. AUGH!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I fully agree with mortellan. The "dragon breath" sound you heard when you were approaching the dragon lair was... scary to say the least.
    And the game was so grim. If you succeeded killing the three headed dragon, all you had was the outland map with the final destination, the misty mountain, blinking. Nothing more. I remember this scared me more than the rest :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. For it's era it was a fairly entertaining game. It was certainly much more involved than a great number of games of the time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I had both Intellivision D&D games. I also had the Intellivision "computer", which was a horrid product that plugged into the game console. One of the few plusses was that if you plugged in a game cartridge, you could access the sprites in the game, and I suppose in theory use them in your own program.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I loved Treasure of Tarmin, I never expected a full on D&D game from a console back then, but Tarmin was close enough for me! I spent hours and hours playing this.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I never took a liking to the Intellivision as a platform... I think the controls were a hindrance to my enjoyment... so I never even saw this game.

    The Atari VCS/2600, Colecovision, Vectrex... those were more my speed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I loved the original D&D game, as un-D&D as it was. I agree that they were able to generate a surprising amount of tension with the dragons.

    I remember you could bank shot the arrows, and hit yourself if you were not careful. That was fun.

    It was hard to find a game that really gave me the D&D feel. Then I discovered Ultima III. That was the game that hooked me on the Ultima series. I, III, IV, V, and VII were my favorites. The Bard's Tale series was fun too, but got old after the first one. Plus, you didn't get the cool cloth maps from Bard's Tale.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I remember the day my parents bought this for me. Once I started playing, I think I played it continuously through the night and into the next day. Eventually, you reach a point where you have the best possible weapons and you defeat the minotaur guarding the Treasure of Tarmin. There is no conclusion, though. You are free to wander about, essentially invincible, and you begin to encounter minotaurs and Treasures of Tarmin in every other room. I never played it again after that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I always really liked the artwork in that particular ad. I think that's a really super piece.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm guessing they worked on the game well before the D&D license was guaranteed. Probably why most monsters were generic - in case they had to go without the brand name.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Two thoughts:
    1) Remember when video games were advertised with illustrations that were so explicitly not from the game? Man.

    2) Anyone ever played Tunnels of Doom on the Texas Instruments platform? That was actually closer to pen and paper RPG than many of the early "D&D games were. Great fun.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tunnels of Doom was the best D&D game of its era. My brother and I played it incessantly.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Was Tunnels of Doom the one based on Tunnels & Trolls?

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Was Tunnels of Doom the one based on Tunnels & Trolls?"

    Nah... you're thinking of "Crusaders of Khazan."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusaders_of_Khazan

    ReplyDelete
  18. I had both D&D games for Intellivision too. I had forgotten all about the sound the dragon made until Marco brought it up. It was evil! Now I'm trying to remember it. And like mortellan said, Arrows don't ricochet! I spent many, many nights playing those games. That's probably why my grades were so bad in junior-high. Thanks for bringing back those memories.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I bought that game with my birthday money. I distinctly remember paying a whopping $17 dollars for that cartridge and it was the most costly one at the time.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.