The Legacy – Magazine Reviews

I only found the two reviews for The Legacy and they differ wildly. The first from the June 1993 PC Zone below is the most negative citing criticisms such as the game being more Lovecraft than Poe, objects just lying around, the room layout not making sense and the combat being difficult. All of these are true but I didn’t regard any of them as major issues. I may be doing the reviewer a disservice but I do get the strong impression they barely played the game. Certainly none of these screenshots are beyond the very early levels. One thing I do take out of this review is the Horrorsoft games it mentions were horror dungeon crawlers along something of a similar vein. I’d forgotten about them entirely and really should try them out one of these days.

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Onto the second review from the May 1993 PC Review. This is the one that got me to buy the game 23 years back so it goes without saying they liked it a whole lot more than PC Zone. The version I played did allow for saving of custom screen layouts so this must have been added post review. It still scores a very healthy 8 which is the same as Lemmings 2 and X-Wing which both got reviewed in the same issue. Maybe timing was The Legacy’s problem in the end with two big titles like that in the same month. To compound this, Veil of Darkness and Shadow Of The Comet both with a similar horror theme are in the same issue. It clearly wasn’t a bad month for PC gaming although the balance was redressed to a large extent by Accolade’s Wacky Funsters. Hopefully I’m the only person who remembers that turkey.

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Finally, the August 1993 PC Review featured a brief guide to playing The Legacy which I happened to spot when doing those Tornado scans. It’s a long way off a walkthrough but offers a few hints to help out in those difficult opening sections.

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The Legacy – Part 3

At the end of part 2, I’d managed to explore all the upper levels of the house and was starting to have a proper look around the basement levels. This was slightly hindered by a dark god called Alberoth who used his satanic powers to block all three entryways to basement #2 simultaneously.

I decided that my main goal to start out today would be more searching around the basements for anything useful. This soon landed me a Japanese sword which proved a whole lot more effective than a baseball bat.

I also returned to the crypt level. There was a puzzle where I had to kill every skeleton (bearing in mind that they spring back to life if I walk on a dead one) before I could open a particular door and get to the second half of the map. From here on out I opted for the cowards option of dodging my way round further skeletons. My efforts were rewarded with a golden torc which appeared to protect me from the attacks of the master of the void later in the game.


After this, progress ground to a halt again as I didn’t appear to have anywhere I could go. Eventually I figured out that a load of the locked doors around the map can be opened with a particular unlocking spell. I had tried this earlier but what I hadn’t realised was that even when casting the spell successfully the door still wouldn’t open 9 times out of ten which seems a little unfair. This means loads of saving and loading for a magically challenged character like the guy I’m playing here but huge swathes of the map were now open to me.

First stop is the games best weapon, an even bigger Japanese sword up on level 4. This can be powered up by returning the ashes of the samurai along with the shorter sword and placing them all together.


While I’m here I decide to go for the full samurai look and get hold of the best armour in the game. With this and the sword, I don’t have to run and hide from the monsters from here on out.


I head to the Egyptian level next and am able to explore much of the level by unlocking more doors with my key of the shadow lord spell. There are lots of illusory items down here that vanish when I try to pick them up and not so many real ones. I do find a flute that only plays F# which might not be the best instrument to get a tune out of but will come in useful later.


Once I’ve stepped on four pressure plates spread around the tomb, the middle of the level opens up and I can insert coins into slots to access a central area. There is a snag here in that I’m supposed to have 5 coins and I only have four and I never did manage to find that last one. Luckily for me this part of the game appears to be unnecessary.


In the corner of the tomb is a small observatory. Using the astrolabe I found somewhere in the basement, I’m able to calculate that the stars have moved out of alignment so Alberoth won’t be able to skulk around the stairways any more. This doesn’t work without the astrolabe so in this case knowledge really is power it would seem.


This opens up the lowest levels of the house where the inhabitants get ever stranger. All those inmates of the asylum have been turned into tentacle faced servitors who prowl these levels chucking fireballs at any intruders. In the middle is one of the dark triumvirate themselves who much to my surprise I managed to see off with my samurai blade. It won’t stop them popping up again later elsewhere though.


The southern exit of this room leads to a slimy cave section populated with the sea daemons I read about earlier. I think they are actually aliens although it’s never made entirely clear. Either way they prod tridents at me and generally get in the way while I’m trying to have a look around. Discretion is the better part of valour at this stage as even wearing all my Sunday best adventuring outfit they hurt.


I discover an exit from the caves seemingly leading to death on the rocks below but stepping through actually takes me to what will turn out to be the final level in the game. This area is full of moving teleportation cubes which I have to avoid if I don’t want to get bounced all the way out of the level. There are also a load of firespawn floating about that block my path when trying to avoid said cubes. I don’t have the fire extinguisher at this point so it’s just as well that the samurai blade can make short work of them. While exploring this level I run into a forcefield which I’m told outright I can’t walk through without the eye of Agla. I know from the clue earlier that I need a meteorite fragment for that which I’m still looking for.


There is nowhere else to look except the caves level and right in the furthest and most difficult to reach corner is a room with a strange container made of crystal. Playing the flute smashes this and provided I time it right so that I don’t get shocked by the pillars on either side I can then pick up the meteorite within.


A clue from back in part 2 comes in handy here. I head for the room of the skulls in a higher basement level where I eventually work out that I need to use a hand mirror to bounce the beam of light onto a mark on the wall. This raises a pillar out of the ground. I pop the meteorite in, get the eye of Agla out and it’s time to head for the final boss battle.

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The final battle is a strange affair. Belthagor is hanging out behind a fake wall in a green void of some description. The moment I step in there he starts hurling spells at me and my swipes with a sword prove entirely ineffective. He is immune to anything except magical damage. Not ideal when I’ve been playing a warrior character. Luckily I have a load of experience left and the final encounter then becomes a trial and error affair of deciding exactly where to spend it.

What I learn at this latest possible stage of the game is that if I’d upped my willpower ever so slightly, all the spells would cost vastly less mana to cost, not to mention being more effective and the game would have been considerably easier. With my experience spent on this and my flames of desolation spell, Belthagor is something of a pushover and succumbs within seconds.



The final cutscene kicks in, my character dives out of a window and the house is sucked into a vortex in the sky and wiped off the face of the Earth. I then sell the land for redevelopment, presumably not mentioning the sea daemons in the caves below as I make enough money out of it to take off on a world cruise.


The Legacy is a game that I’d always remembered fondly but I was half expecting to be disappointed returning to it again all these years later. If anything it turned out to be better than I remembered, if a little different. For one thing, it isn’t a conventional RPG in the sense that I understand one. Stats are definitely important but combat is largely avoidable, and the player usually at a disadvantage whatever they do. The Legacy is far more about the puzzles. I wouldn’t say any of these are particularly outstanding but they are all solid enough and most importantly fair. Every part of each level needs searching thoroughly to beat this game but there are enough clues for the careful player to win without outside help.

Where The Legacy really succeeds is the atmosphere which is extremely dark, dreary and generally creepy. There is a distinct lack of plot which if anything serves to leave the player further off balance. I never was entirely sure just what exactly was going on in the twisted world of Winthrop House. Imagination is ultimately always more scary than anything visualised and this was especially true with the graphics available in 1993.

The downside of that meagre plot is that I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished all that much now I’ve beaten the game. It’s a happy ending as such but somehow anticlimactic and downbeat. When you exit back to DOS, you are asked to hold onto the winner.inf file which must have been hinting at a sequel. Sadly that never happened and Magnetic Scrolls were no more after this. It wasn’t a bad way to bow out of the business but they should have been around for years more.

The Legacy deserves to be remembered for more than killing off Magnetic Scrolls. I can’t think of any other game I’ve played that was quite like it which might have been the problem as it doesn’t fit any particular niche. It’s a cocktail of adventure game, dungeon crawler and survival horror with a splash of Lovecraft. This may not be to everyone’s taste but personally I’d regard it as something of a hidden gem. I wish more first person RPG’s in this era would have been willing to try something different outside of the usual fantasy clichés.

The Legacy gets a wholehearted vote of approval from me then. For the next post, I’ll attempt to dig out any articles I can find from the time and see what the UK press thought about it.

The Legacy – Part 2

I didn’t get all that far into The Legacy in part 1. The wealth of options on how to approach the game kept sending me off in directions my character wasn’t able to cope with. I’d eventually decided to work my way up the house and was making steady progress exploring the second floor.

Today starts off with a simple door puzzle where I have to go through several numbered doors in ascending order to unlock another door in the middle of the level that has a knocking sound coming from it. Behind the locked door is another NPC is the shape of PI Dee Kirby who isn’t all that helpful in truth not telling me anything I haven’t already figured out. She leaves me when we are done talking with the intention to somehow leave the mansion.


That just about finishes off the second floor so I head up to floor 3. Just when you think the house can’t get any stranger, this whole level is an asylum complete with my last remaining relative who tries to butcher me with an axe. This encounter is my abiding memory of playing the game from years back as it truly creeped me out at the time. It’s mainly the laughing my aunt is doing while trying to run that axe through me. The effect is considerably lessened with the passing of time but it’s still not what you would call pleasant. She leaves behind her axe and blood stained straight jacket which I’ll be needing later in the level to pretend to be her so I can get through an invisible barrier.

I’ll later learn that the asylum was used to provide victims for the dark gods in the lower levels of the house which at least partially explains its presence.

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The exit to level 4 is guarded by one of the uglier monsters ever to grace an RPG and these guys are all over the asylum. They don’t chase after me at least and don’t have a range attack but I’m really not up to fighting them at close range yet.


While exploring the asylum, I happen across a green gem which is just what I need for a puzzle right back in the entrance hallway where a painting had a conspicuous hole where the jewel in a pendant should have been. Sure enough placing the gem destroys the painting (begging the question how anyone ever used this in the past) revealing a door behind it. That takes me through to a room that could be straight out of Hellraiser with swinging chains and body parts everywhere. I can walk through the portal in the middle to get teleported elsewhere but have to time this to avoid the chains.

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This takes me to an Egyptian temple level. I fail to get very far here running into lots of locked doors. I do learn that a dark cult were doing something nefarious here and run into one of them in his natty suit. Since I’m not getting anywhere here I decide to come back later.

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I still don’t fancy fighting my way past the two headed thing on level 3 so instead I try one more set of steps from the ground floor of the house which lead to a tomb level. The first thing I run into here is a gun toting zombie who I defeat with hit and run attacks dodging out of the way of his formidable shotgun blasts each time. The main foe down here after him are skeletons which spring back to life every time you walk over them. They are reasonably easy to defeat but do start to grind my health down after a bit.

I don’t find much else of interest other than a temple complete with organ. Using some sheet music I found near the start of the game, the window smashes revealing a swirling portal. Foolishly I head into this.


This leads to the ethereal plane which looks a whole lot different to Ultima Underworld but isn’t any easier to navigate. This one is a swirling blue vortex with invisible boundaries and precious little in the way of landmarks. It is absolutely swarming with monsters including the jellyfish on the right who I’ll learn later is one of the dark triumvirate of gods round these parts. It throws endless spells at me and I run away as quick as possible. The cubes are teleporters to various parts of the house and this level could be used at a shortcut if you can manage to learn where everything is I suppose. Most of the portals need opening up on the other side before they will work though.

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Once again, I’m unsure where to go next so I head for level 3 and find a load of rooms that I missed first time around. The place is populated with fire spawn who are invulnerable to any conventional weapons I’m carrying around right now but can be dispatched with one or two blasts from a fire extinguisher.


I manage to get some more of the locked doors open and explore the rest of the level. The most notable encounter is with a face bulging out of the wall in a padded cell. Whoever it is wants me to rescue them from the ethereal plane. I didn’t enjoy my first trip there much so I’ll hold off on that particular request for now.

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Instead, I head for the top floor which is the museum, kind of like the top floor of my house now I think about it although on slightly different scales. Nearly all the best items in the game will be found up here although not necessarily on this first visit. I also get to meet the bad guys as there are paintings of the dark gods starting with Belthegor on the bottom left. I’ll need to defeat this particular god at the end of the game. Right now, I’m having enough trouble with the crawling green slimes and pink crawling frog like things on this level.


The museum has lots of plinths with all sorts of goodies on that will help when fighting the denizens of the Winthrop estate. Unfortunately for me most of them aren’t immediately grabbable and I have to replace the missing plaque on each plinth before I can pick them up. The only plaque I’ve found so far is a for a shuriken so I grab that while I’m here and then fail to use it throughout the rest of the game so I’m not so sure how effective it would have been.


I find paintings of the rest of the triumvirate with Alberoth on the left and the nameless master of the void on the right. Alberoth hangs around in 3 locations simultaneously on one of the basement levels blocking access until I complete a puzzle much, much later on in the game.

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I run into another relative which is becoming a common experience considering I’m the last surviving member of the family. This time its Carl Winthrop who wants me to summon the Karcist in the temple. This probably isn’t a good idea as near enough every word this guy tells me is a lie. I’ll learn much later that the Karcist is the relative that started this whole mess 300 years ago but giving their soul to the dark gods. Carl Winthrop vanishes as soon as we are done talking.


I find a room with plinths for 3 statues and I know from various scraps of paper that I can banish all the pink frog-things from the level by placing the appropriate statues on each plinth and casting a fireball spell at them. Casting the fireball spell proves to be the trickiest part of this and I have to devote a load of experience to the spell before casting starts to work.


At the northeast corner of the level is another entrance to the void. I decide to take the plunge and this time find Charles Wenlock (or at least his astral projection) walking around. He is a magician of sorts who was trying to banish the evil from the house and is by far the most helpful person in this whole game. He gives me some crystal glasses to help me find a path through the void (another item I never used now I think about it), teaches me a new spell and also give me the advice that I’ll need to fashion a talisman from a meteorite fragment in the room of skulls in order to defeat Belthegor.


My only choice at this point appears to be to head down into the basement of the house again. When I attempt to go to the second basement level, sure enough Alberoth is waiting for me looking even less welcoming than in his picture. I’m completely unable to dodge round him but I have found clues about him disappearing at a certain star alignment.


It’s fair to say I made a whole lot more progress in part 2 although playing this game does feel like stumbling around in the dark at times. I kept going back and forth trying to figure out which direction to strike out in. The story in the game is extremely sparse with only a minimum of guidance. Near enough every little clue you do find is needed to figure out the puzzles. Keeping all the screenshots for blogging has certainly proved extremely useful.

Part 3 will see me to the end of the game and should be coming around a whole lot more quickly than part 2. It’s not the way I usually do things but I was enjoying playing this enough that I ended up finishing the game instead of writing up this post.

The Legacy – Part 1

The Legacy (aka The Legacy – Realm of Terror) is a highly unusual RPG developed by Magnetic Scrolls and published by Mindscape in 1993. Magnetic Scrolls were known for text adventure games and were regarded by many as the British Infocom throughout the 80’s. The Legacy was therefore something of a departure for them and despite a largely positive reaction from the press, it didn’t get the success it possibly deserved and would be their last creation.

This is a game I bought and played on first release but returning to it 20 years down the line, I can’t say I remember a whole lot of the detail. I do recall it being quite tricky and it was quite possible to get into unwinnable states but I’ll do my best to get through to the end once again.

The copy I have now isn’t my original as I sold/traded that one a long time back. I rectified that mistake eventually and bought another one. This is a game that comes in a particularly large and good looking box even if mine could do with gluing back together on one side.

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I’m sure the contents here aren’t complete but I do have 7 floppies, a technical leaflet and the manual itself which goes into all sorts of detail considering how intuitive the game is to play. The manual contains a brief section allegedly written by Edgar Allen Poe about a particularly scary house he was unfortunate enough to visit. It’s hinted to be the same house as in the game but the influences once you start playing are much more Lovecraftian the way I remember it.


The game has an impressive intro for the time in which some hapless idiot draws up to the extremely sinister looking house, and only manages to make it up the steps before something emerges out of the floor dragging him to his doom.

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It’s at this point that the game hung on me and I had to spend a while figuring out that it will always crash after the intro with SoundBlaster/Roland combo selected for audio. Either on their own worked fine but didn’t sound anything like as good. The readme file came to my rescue – basically select Soundblaster for sound and then start the game with “legacy -roland” and it works fine during the game. The snag here is that the intro and presumably outro if I make it that far still only have SoundBlaster music. I’ll worry about the ending if I make it that far.

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The story of The Legacy is a nice simple one allowing anyone to jump straight in without reading the manual. You the player have inherited a house and at the start of the game arrive to take a look around. Before starting the game, you have a choice of 8 characters to play all with their own stats which will affect how you play the game. If you don’t like those stats, you can redesign the character as you please. Something I recall from playing this years ago is that all of these characters are stored in text files so if you want to make the game much easier you can simply edit the text file to beef them up. Tempting as that is, I stuck to playing it properly and chose the ex-military Robert Kowalski.

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And with that it’s straight into the mansion. The setting is very different but the game is effectively a dungeon crawler in the style of Dungeon Master and Eye Of The Beholder. The interface is interesting in that it’s all point and click with context sensitive menus. All of the windows are resizable meaning that if you want to play full screen you can. You won’t be able to see your automap without clicking on it to bring it to the front but it’s entirely possible. This may seem unremarkable now but this was cutting edge stuff for a DOS game back in 93. The system was previously used in Magnetic Scrolls earlier game Wonderland back in 1990.

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Using this sort of interface is second nature these days at any rate. The first task at hand is to get my bearings and the game wastes no time in setting the scene as the note immediately in front of me says that the house is possessed by an evil entity. Apparently there are strange goings on every 20 years and I happen to have arrived at just the wrong time. It’s too late to get out now as the door is being held shut by a magical force that laughs at me every time I step on that square.

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I’ve no choice but to explore and it doesn’t take long before I come across my first zombie. All the creatures in the game are pre-rendered in 3D studio but move around quite smoothly despite this. The animation puts the likes of Doom to shame but there were only four possible camera angles here. There are loads of these zombies on this level and they tend to chase me around as soon as they spot me but won’t come through doors provided I don’t hold them open. It’s something of a theme throughout this game that whenever you run into a new monster, you aren’t equipped to deal with it so there is a lot of running away even with the character I’ve chosen to play. I do find a poker fairly quickly which becomes my weapon of choice for these early sections.

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Further exploration reveals a spiky green floating thingy that doesn’t actually attack me but does terrify the player enough that they are rooted to the spot until it’s gone out of sight. This sort of fear reaction is used throughout the game and the willpower stat can be raised to overcome it.

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Near enough the whole house is open to explore right from the start of The Legacy. This is not a game that holds your hand through each section one by one and it’s entirely up to the player to decide what to do next which does make starting out tricky. I venture down into the cellar when I come across a set of steps but don’t last more than a couple of seconds so decide to carry on exploring upstairs instead. legship_036

Most of the locations in the game are rendered as corridors. They aren’t entirely bare with sofas, chairs and the like but are largely generic on each floor. There are however, some specific locations such as the room above which have a pre-rendered screen and the player can search within that for things to do in the same manner as a point and click adventure game. I.e. here I can open the curtain to discover a hanging corpse, or more usefully open up the dumb waiter to find a severed head which I can carry around with me. I assume it will be useful at any rate.

The inventory space is extremely limited in this game. I have found a suitcase at this point which I can use to store about a dozen items but I’ve ended up using the entrance hall as a stash room to store all those things that I expect will come in handy much later in the game.

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I decide to venture up to the second floor and have much the same experience I did in the basement only with a ghost this time around. All the fuses have now blown because of the storm so the house is quite dark and makes life trickier still. I do find a fusebox on the ground floor but it needs repairing and I haven’t found the appropriate equipment yet.

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I eventually locate my first spell which is used for avoiding getting hit by enemies. The game’s magic system works by equipping a spell book in one hand and then selecting the spell and power level from a window of icons which pops up. Each spell has its own skill level which you can spend experience points on if you wish to improve your chances of casting successfully. The stat system in this game is quite complex with a lot of options on where to spend your experience. I’m tending to concentrate on combat skills and hope this won’t come back to hurt me late in the game.

The experience system is unusual in that it appears to be about exploring rather than combat and I’m unconvinced I gain any experience at all from combat. The Legacy definitely doesn’t have the usual RPG mechanics in this sense. There are no levels either and experience is just gained gradually and can be spent at any time.

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I’ve run out of places to explore on the ground floor so decide to do my best a floor up and run away from anything dangerous. There are some imp-like creatures who throw spells at me but I do find out I can destroy these with holy water which I have a small supply of. I spot another human but she just walks back and forth across some trapped areas and ignores me if I try to talk to her so I leave her well alone.

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I do come across my first NPC shortly after in the form of a friendly ghost who tells me how he is chained to the house by a particular painting which I must find and destroy.

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That painting is practically around the corner. I drag my matches onto it and can now explore the level without being hassled by ghosts any more.


This leads me to a fusebox which I switch to get the lights back on for this floor. This doesn’t really appear to help in any way except the screenshots look much clearer.

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Level 2 looks to be the guest quarters with loads of bedrooms and bathrooms all of which are more or less identical. Opening the toilets is not recommended as a blue worm will attack on suspicion.

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I learned early on in this game that triangular symbols meant safety and I’ve been desperately looking for one so that I can rest up and regain health ever since. When I do finally find one, I’m not tired enough to rest so it was wasted effort. The only way I’ve got to regain health is the first aid kits I’ve run across which don’t last long and are in short supply. I’m definitely going to have to be more careful about not getting hurt from here on out. Presumably if I run out of first aid kits it will be game over as this game doesn’t strike me as being exactly forgiving in that sense.


I figure a baseball bat ought to help me out in fending off monsters than a poker so I grab this for my weapon of choice at this point. There are firearms in the game also but I can’t honestly say that I found them all that effective and ammo is in extremely short supply so I’m tending to stick to melee weapons. There isn’t anything to say it’s a +2 weapon or the like so I simply have to try it out and see how it goes.

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Before I call it a day, I get to meet some of the family using a VHS I found earlier in the TV room. Not surprisingly since they owned this place this isn’t your run of the mill family video. The man is just saying how Ellen has escaped and how he doesn’t know what to do when she turns up and gives him the axe.

I can’t say I’m a whole lot wiser as to exactly what is going on in this house at the end of this first session but it definitely isn’t good. The Legacy is everything I remembered it to be though and is holding up extremely well. The graphics have barely aged as far as I’m concerned. I’ll admit the monsters are a little clunky when moving around and they do tend to face the wrong way at times (not that it dampens their ability to hit you any). It doesn’t do anything to reduce the air of dread that is hanging over me while playing these early sections. The constant threat of a quick death certainly adds to the tension as does the atmospheric music and sound throughout.

We’ll see if I can’t shift the balance a little more in my favour next time anyway and speed up progress a little. Either way, the floors on this house are unrealistically enormous so I expect there will be a good number of posts before I make it to the end.

DND#1 on a Commodore PET

Just over a year back there was a contest announced on the Shroud of the Avatar site to port Richard Garriott’s first DND game to web browsers. The story is provided in the link but in brief this was the first in a series of unreleased DND games written by Garriott, the final one of which would become Akalabeth and start the Ultima series.

While the code doesn’t exactly mask the fact that this is the high school project of a teenager, the historical significance can’t be denied. I’ve been meaning to have a look at the game for a while and somehow never got around to it. That was until my latest addition to the man cave arrived:-

Commodore Pet

Looking every inch the stereotype of a 70’s computer, the Commodore PET was the first computer I ever used more years ago than I care to admit to. My Dad brought one home from work when I was 5 or 6 and it’s fair to say I was hooked from the start. This was long enough ago that just being able to control things on a screen at all impressed the hell out of most people. It occurs to me that his employer must have been a whole lot more trusting back then to let him borrow it as one of these would have cost near half his years salary as a university lecturer at the time. The PET was still half the price of the Apple II though which does beg the question quite how Richard Garriott was able to afford his half of the price tag as a school kid. At any rate, in the case of my 2001 series model, that 6 months salary would have bought 32K of RAM, a 1 Mhz 6502 processor and a 9 inch 40×25 character based green screen display.

The PET first came out in 1977, the same year as DND#1 and it struck me that in the absence of a PDP-11 it was the perfect platform to port the game on to for an authentic 70’s gaming experience. Also since Commodore BASIC is extremely similar to the one used on the PDP-11 there should be minimal work involved. I took a lazier option still and started from an Applesoft BASIC port by Aaron Lanterman. Both Apple and Commodore BASIC were based on Microsoft BASIC making them almost entirely compatible and limiting the amount of work I had to do.

The changes I made were:-

  • Convert everything to lower case. Despite the PET only having uppercase it needs all the BASIC commands to be lowercase when pasting the code into the WinVICE emulator.
  • Remove most of the spaces from the code. Other than the one after the line number and those in strings, Commodore BASIC ignores spaces and since memory is in extremely short supply they needed to go.
  • Shrunk all the arrays. These all appeared to be unnecessarily large and caused out of memory errors in their original sizes.
  • Hardcoded a dungeon into the code. The original game allowed the user to pick 1 of 6 dungeons which were then loaded from a file. This wasn’t an option for me so I pinched the first dungeon from the winning javascript port at and load the data into the dungeon array. You get this dungeon no matter what number you pick.

With all that done, I shoved it on an emulator, saved to a virtual cassette file, converted this to a wav and played it into my PET via one of those headphone -> cassette adaptors that people used to use in car stereos.

DND#1 - 1DND1 - 2 DND#1 - 3

6 and a half minutes of loading later, DND#1 was ready to go. Surprisingly all of this works and the game is indeed playable on the PET, or at least just about playable. The code that is run between player moves, controlling monsters and the like is more than the PET wants to cope with and the game runs at about 1 move a minute. I expect this may not be all that dissimilar to the experience on the PDP-11 and the experience is still less drawn out that playing that Ultima 1 board game. I’m sure this could be optimised but I haven’t looked at that part of the code yet. I kind of prefer to leave it as it is.

Aside from the speed of the game, I could do with putting back a few spaces into the code here and there and there is no saving but I decided it was good enough for my purposes and tried my hand at a few games.The actual game involves moving around a 26×26 dungeon finding gold, falling into pits, searching for secret doors, fighting monsters – most of the usual tropes of dungeon crawling RPG’s back before they became tropes. The map is only partially shown when the player chooses to look and the graphics are simply numbers in a grid with 4 representing a door, 5 a monster, 1 a wall etc.. I kept it simple with a fighter character and combat just involved swinging my sword and hoping to hit. In hindsight a bow and arrow might not have been a bad idea.

My games proved to be quite short (or would have if the thing ran quicker) with my usual end coming when I’d fallen down more pits than my supply of rope and spikes would allow me to climb out of. There isn’t any winning target in the game as such. Gold could be seen as a score of sorts but the player is left to find their own goals.

DND1 is very basic and not all that playable but has to be worth a glance at least for anyone interested in the pre-Ultima dark ages of early video games. It’s not hard to see how this evolved into Akalabeth – convert it to 3D and they really wouldn’t be all that much different. As for playing it on the PET, it’s certainly an oldschool experience if nothing else. A bit of optimisation to get the speed up really wouldn’t hurt – I might take another look at it some time. Any of the modern ports would probably be preferable but for anyone wanting to try this out the code is here, the tape file is here, and the wav file for loading on real hardware is here. These should also work on later 8 bit Commodore machines (VIC-20,C64,C128) since they were all built on the same framework.

The game isn’t all that user friendly. If you do play it, don’t ask for instructions or it kicks you out, make sure your player name is shavs and enter 16 (or any higher number) once you have bought enough equipment at the start to go into the game proper.