Saturday, February 8, 2014

Retro Game Saturday: D&D Shadow Over Mystara and Adventure Island 3 (NES) World 4

Arcade Adventure

Welcome back to our newly-rebranded Retro Saturday post.  By happy chance, I happen to have a new old game story to share this week.  I was in City Centre doing some shopping and exploring the other day when I went through a small alternative shopping center.  This little hole hosts an interesting collection of vintage clothing boutiques, handmade art print galleries, ethnic food stands- and one interesting multi-game arcade machine.

I'd only seen the machine in action once, someone was playing the Capcom arcade classic Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.  I assumed that C&D was the only game in the cabinet, but I was dead wrong.  The cabinet is loaded with hundreds of games, often multiple versions of each of these classic games.  I assume the arcade cabinet is one big emulator with hundreds of (questionably legal) arcade ROMs.  We all know I have zero qualms about retro video game emulation, so I dropped in my 50 cent coin for 4 credits (not a bad deal) and toggled through the selection.

I was spoiled for choice and was a bit overwhelmed by the selection.  I had to decide whether to play a familiar game dripping with nostalgia OR a game I hadn't played before but had heard about from websites and podcasts like Retronauts.  I stumbled upon the name of I game I was interested in trying, a game from the 90's that I was just never lucky enough to play.  A classic Beat 'em Up style game, in the same vein as classics like Double Dragon, The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Captain America and The Avengers, Golden Axe, and many other "walk to the right until the screen stops, kill all the enemies as they appear, and continue walking to the right" games.

This game is generally known as the most sophisticated of the arcade Beat 'em Ups, and the logical conclusion to the genre: Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow over Mystara.

D&D Shadow Over Mystara Arcade Title Screen
D&D Title Screen
The game is based upon the 2nd edition rules of the popular granddaddy of all tabletop RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons.  I've never played the 2nd edition, but I understand most of the mechanics from playing the 3rd edition and its cousin(?) Pathfinder.  

The game has a great range of classic D&D character classes.  Thief, Wizard, Fighter, etc.  I chose the Dwarf for my first credit, who would be categorized as a fighter in the mechanics of the game.  The graphics are wonderful, the storytelling is engaging- for a 90's arcade game, that is.  The Dwarf can use his primary weapon AND can choose from a variety of sub-weapons like bows, throwing daggers, and some magic items.  Enemies drop gold, ammunitions, weapons, potions, and magic items.  The game is so deep I felt like I wasn't able to quite grasp all of the subtle mechanics in those four short credits.

As the game went on, I tried the Thief character (too few HP, quick death) and the Wizard (cool but limited magic spells, also too few HP and quick death) with less-than-optimal results.  I made it as far as the Man-Scorpion boss before running out of the 4 credits granted by my measly 50 cent coin- and the universal arcade screen taunted me-

D&D Shadow Over Mystara arcade continue screen
Go Ahead, Gimme More Money!
Maybe another day I'll go back with a few coins and see how far I can get fighting classic D&D monsters like Owlbears, Kobolds, and Gnolls.  Maybe I'll bring a friend with me for a Co-Op run...  Stay tuned.

Back to the Island

After all that arcade action, World 4 of Adventure Island 3 probably seems pretty silly.  We continue our trek through the island in search of our kidnapped girlfriend- this time fighting through an underground pyramid tomb and a sunken ship.

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