Looks like the most uncomfortable helmet of all time.
Remember Starpath, the guys who sold a device for the Atari 2600 called the Supercharger that added additional power for the system?
You might recall Communist Mutants from Space, a game I played recently and that boosted some really impressive graphics.
Dragonstomper looks like absolute dogsh*t but has a lot of horsepower underneath its ugly hood.
Forget Adventure everybody (actually…don’t)!
THIS is the true first RPG.
Here’s the totally interesting and original story:
Long ago, a Druid magician created an amulet of great power that could subdue a dragon. Heading to the dragon’s lair, the Druid accidentally dropped the amulet and it fell deep into its lair. Over time, the amulet imbued the dragon with cunning and power so that it began to spread treachery and evil about the peaceful Kingdom. The player’s quest begins with the king summoning the player to defeat the dragon once and for all.
TL;DR: There’s a dragon. Kill it!
You start out in an open field and you can move in every direction.
Your first mission is to get across a bridge that is guarded by a warrior.
He needs either an ID or 600 gold.
I suppose you can also kill him, but the dude is tough as nails.
So you wander across the surprisingly big map and fight enemies in random encounters.
Spiders, snakes, golems, goblins…typical fantasy stuff.
You can always try to escape but its best to kill the enemy for gold and items.
Some are useful (keys) and some (most) are pretty useless like crosses and charms.
They might seem useless now but you can sell them later and believe me: you will need the money.
Don’t even think about finding items that restore your health.
Just pray you make it to the village alive.
Scattered across the map are also churches, huts, and towers.
They may have important items like a shield that increases your dexterity (the only skill beside strength/health) or they lure you into a trap.
I mostly steered clear of any of them.
“So where do you get the f*cking ID?”, you may ask.
“Collecting gold will most likely get you killed, right?”
Well, the ID is in a tower that is constantly blinking.
Get a key, go to the tower and show the bridge guard the item called ‘paper‘.
Easy as that.
You’ve made it to the village.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the silence as there are no enemies around.
It’s not that silent sadly.
There are three warriors running around and they make a noise that sounds like a f*cking typhoon.
You can hire them to help you fight the dragon. I highly advise you do as they can deal up to five damage each hit. They ask for 200 gold each and since that is way too greedy we have to find another way.
The village has three shops.
One is selling spells, the next one is selling potions and another one is selling miscellaneous items.
Here’s what you do:
Go to the misc. store and sell everything except your shield (if you have it).
Then, buy the rope, some crossbows, and three rubies.
They cost 114 gold each and you can give them to the warriors who will join you in return. Way cheaper than paying them upfront.
Next is the spells shop.
Everything here is useful but I settled for the vision (shows traps), blast (fireball) and stun (stuns the dragon, duh) spell.
If you’re a
casual smart person you can just buy the expensive unlock spell.
This allows you to open the final gate and avoid the dragon.
Anticlimatic but way less frustrating.
If you have any money left you can go the potion shop and buy as much vitamin pills as possible.
You might think that the potion called heal will actually heal your character, but no. That’s vitamins.
Nice. Go through the dragon gate.
Before you can actually fight the dragon you have to go through a long tunnel.
No enemies but lots of traps.
There are small and big arrows that go from left to right and you just have to avoid them.
The next trap is some kind of poison that is released by invisible triggers.
Green leaves (?) indicate their appearance.
If you bought the vision spell you can use it now to highlight the trigger plates.
Or just close your eyes and hope for the best.
After ten minutes or so you will come across a big pit.
The dragon is waiting beneath.
If you bought a rope you will safely drop to the bottom.
If you forgot, you’ll lose a chunk of health and you will need every bit.
The boss fight is different from all the other fights.
You choose an action like move or use and after that, the dragon uses an action.
Actually, he’s allowed to use TWO actions, which is total bullsh*t.
He’s also a heavy hitter and will kill you in two or three turns.
The fight starts with you on the bottom end of the screen and the dragon on the upper end.
Start by sending out your warriors and get pissed because one warrior is too scared to fight.
After that use every crossbow and fireblast in your inventory.
If he gets too close, use your stun spell to get some distance.
Hope that you and your warriors don’t miss too often and the dragon will die sooner or later.
The f*cker has lots of health and there is definitely luck involved.
I died a few times and had to start all over.
If you bought the unlock spell, the fight is a breeze.
Stun the dragon, move around him and open gate.
Either way…that’s it!
And that’s quite a lot.
I still can’t believe they were able to put all of this into a single cartridge.
Different items and enemies, turn-based combat, a huge map (for its time) and different ways to approach certain situations.
It’s a full-fledged RPG. Released in 1982. For the Atari 2600. That’s just nuts.
Yes, the graphics are ugly and there is almost no sound, but they really needed the space for all the data.
This game is filled to the brim with content and I’m amazed the cartridge isn’t shaking.
To end this long-a** rant:
Dragonstomper is the best game for the system.
A 10 out of 10 if there ever was one but I do have some minor, personal gripes with it.
It’s a bit of trial and error at times.
If you don’t buy the right items you will find yourself in an unwinnable situation.
The boss fight is impossible if you are not equipped well enough.
BUY IT! PLAY IT! HANG A POSTER ON YOUR WALL!