Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Intellivision cartridge and Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game), the Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game was a small handheld electronic game that featured a LCD screen and three buttons. In the game, you play a warrior who is searching a dungeon for an evil dragon to slay before time runs out and he is sealed forever inside the labyrinth. The dragon could only be slain by a magic arrow that is randomly hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Also hidden randomly are the dungeon itself, along with pit traps, bats, and (on one difficulty level) a magic rope that enables escape from pit traps.
The game itself is pretty primitive by today's standards, but, back in 1981, it was fairly impressive -- or at least I thought so. As you can see from the box top pictured above, the LCD screen showed a dungeon intersection in a quasi-three-dimensions, along with indications of directions in which you could explore further. Each intersection also had a number and letter designation, so you could make a map as you searched. The dungeon itself consisted of 100 squares arranged in ten rows of ten. However, the dungeon wrapped onto itself, so if you went beyond the edge in any direction, you'd reappear at its corresponding opposite edge.
Gameplay was fairly limited and somewhat frustrating -- but in a good way. That is, the frustration I experienced tended to egg me on to try again rather than drive me away from playing further. The frustrations, though, were many. Falling into a pit marked the end of your quest if you didn't have the magic rope. If you did have it, you lost it afterwards and had to locate it again in some random room. Bats could carry you off to another location on the map. And of course there was the countdown clock that marked the passage of time. To win, you had to be fast, attentive, and lucky. You could do everything "right" and still lose, because of random factors beyond your control.
Nevertheless, I loved this game. I can't say it felt much like D&D, though. In fact, I find it fascinating that all three of Mattel's licensed D&D games involved dragons as the main (or only!) opponents, something that, despite the RPG's name, has never been the case. Likewise, two of the three games involve warriors who can use only arrows to defeat their foes. Consequently, these games always felt slightly "off" to me as a player of the roleplaying game, but then I suspect none of them were created by people with any real knowledge of the source material. Instead, they were just riding an existing fad to sell electronic games (which were themselves a fad in their own right).