Sword of Fargoal is a great example that you don’t need fancy graphics to enjoy a game. And I always had a weakness for dungeon crawler with randomly generated floors.
Developed by Jeff McCord and published in 1983 by Epyx, Sword of Fargoal is still as good as three decades ago. Your goal is to descent into a dungeon and search for the Sword of Fargoal, which is located somewhere between the 15th and 20th floor. Once retrieved, you have to ascent all the way back to the surface. But beware, monsters might steal the sword and you have to look for it again.
While not a roguelike per se 1, it does feature some of that genre’s key elements, like randomly generated dungeons, health regeneration and perma death. The game has a decent variety of enemies, and the deeper you venture, the tougher they get. The whole game plays in real time, and to fight a monster you simply bump into it, while carefully observing your hit points. If your health get’s dangerously low you always have the option to pull back or press the fire button, which acts as some sort of panic button.
Screenshots (click to enlarge)
Should you get surprised by an enemy, your adversary will gain an advantage, so it’s wise to always attack first or, if you’re low on health points, avoid enemies altogether. Scattered throughout the dungeon levels are marked squares and gold. Marked squares often contain useful items, such as healing potions, teleportation scrolls or shields, but also various traps, which will drain your health. Gold on the other hand can be delivered to a temple to gain experience points. Another advantage of those temples is the fact that enemies won’t attack you while standing on it.
Unlike most dungeon crawler/RPG’s you won’t have a chance to create your own character and always start with the same stats. In the event of leveling up, the game will automatically increase your stats for you, i. e. you have no say in what skills you want to bump up.
The video below was recorded without increasing the speed, so it might look a bit boring when my character slowly walks through the dungeon. But boring it is not. I actually spent most of the week playing this game, it just got that certain ‘something‘ and is highly addictive.
Like I mentioned, the video above was recorded at original speed. But then I thought it would be a good idea to show how it looks like when you speed things up a bit. So I restored my save game, a game I spent two days on to level up my character and descent to the 13th floor. Then this happened:
Whot Bob sez
Dem freaking War Lords always get me, damn bastards. And dat enemy who drains your XP, grrr. But one day I will get dat stoopid sword, I tell ya.
- No Tim Hurley, it’s not :P ↩