Ever heard of a little game called LEGEND OF ZELDA? Ever heard of a game called GAUNTLET?
Ever played a video game in your life where in real-time (not turn-based time) you moved some little nebbish through a maze to retrieve some treasure at the bottom and brought it back up to the surface?
If you’ve ever done anything like that in your life, hang loose for a second. I’m devoting my 100th post to telling you about the first computer game ever devised with that premise.
We’re talking about the computer game “Rogue”, the first 3/4 view (or at least that’s how later 8-bit versions were rendered) dungeon-crawler video game ever.
Rogue was developed in 1980 by Michael Toy, Glen Wichman, and Ken Arnold. It revolved heavily on a library of routines developed by Ken Arnold that allowed direct cursor positioning, a library he called “curses”. I didn’t even know about the previous two guys until just now, mainly because the Apple II version (the one I used to play of course) was made directly by Ken Arnold himself.
Despite it’s simplicity, it had endless replay value because every aspect of the game was randomized. No matter how good you were at the game, there was always the chance that a roll of some invisible dice would throw you into a completely doomed situation. That concept has always appealed to me.
Gauntlet was the first arcade release that truly captured the feel of Rogue – wait, no I’m lying. Berzerk would probably be better suited for that role. Oh, and Venture… man that game sure was underrated.
My favorite true-to-the spirit “Rogue” based game also turns out to be one of the last, “Dragon Crystal” for Sega Master System/Game Gear (game footage above). Not only do the mazes change each time you play, but each time you start over, all the items in the game are unlabeled and are just designated by colors, and you have to figure out by trial and error what is helpful and what is harmful. If I was stuck on a desert island with just one game, it would probably be Dragon Crystal (I’d find some way to smuggle Clash At Demonhead out there too, tho.)
Well, on that note, ONE HUNDRED POSTS!!!
P.S. If this blog interested you at all check this out. These guys are working hard to make sure every classic version of Rogue remains compatible with current computer systems.