The SSI Gold Box games were a fondly remembered series of computer RPGs produced by SSI, based on the Dungeons & Dragons
license. They were not the first D&D licensed games, but they were the first to appear in the 16 bit era, when home computers got sophisticated enough to implement substantial chunks of the game system. Their name comes from the distinctive gold-colored cardboard box that most of them came in.
The games were based on variations of the same engine and took place in a first person dungeon/city (with some games having an overworld map). Battles were turn-based and happened on a square grid.
The games were collected at various times, the most recent being the Forgotten Realms
Archives in 1997, which includes the five Pool of Radiance games and the two main Savage Frontier games, along with other Forgotten Realms
-based games. Playing them on modern computers generally requires Dosbox
or other emulation software.
Games in the series include:
- Pool of Radiance series:
- Pool Of Radiance (the original version) (1988)
- Hillsfar (a spinoff used to boost character stats)
- Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989)
- Secret of the Silver Blades (1990)
- Pools of Darkness (1991)
- Savage Frontier series:
- Gateway to the Savage Frontier (1991)
- Treasures of the Savage Frontier (1992)
- Neverwinter Nights (the original version, not that one) (1991)
- Dragonlance series:
- Champions of Krynn (1990)
- Death Knights of Krynn (1991)
- The Dark Queen of Krynn (1992)
- Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (1992)
- Buck Rogers series: (Lorraine Williams, owner of TSR at the time, inherited the rights to Buck Rogers, leading to a lot of promotion of Buck Rogers-based TSR products)
- Countdown to Doomsday (1990)
- Matrix Cubed (1992)
- And Unlimited Adventures (1993), which is a Game Maker to create games in this style.
Tropes in these games include:
- Artificial Stupidity
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The final bosses in each game tend to be the hardest fought encounters and for good reason, usually having AC well into the negatives and having strong weapons.
- Bag of Spilling: Justified in Curse of the Azure Bonds by the villains ambushing and stealing your equipment, and then in Secret of the Silver Blades, the villagers summon you, but forget to summon your equipment.
- Zigzagged in Treasures of the Savage Frontier. Turns out you just have to put on the gear you got from the last game.
- Body Surf: Tyranthraxus twice. Once to a bronze dragon, the next time to a storm giant.
- Bonus Dungeon: The Shrine of the Dark Queen in Death Knights of Krynn; and "Dave's Maze" in Pools of Darkness. Ye gods, Dave's Maze.
- Character Level
- Copy Protection - not only required you to state a word on the codewheel, but also to translate in-game texts. It also involved looking entries in a journal that contains Red Herrings if you try reading it without playing the game.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: Extensively present in Secret of the Silver Blades.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: At the end of Dark Queen of Krynn, you go through the Abyss, free Raistlin from his chains and soon come upon Takhisis planning to cross over into the Material Plane. The most you can do to stop her from getting to the portal was throw a fireball at her which may as well have tickled, but it keeps her from crossing over.
- Dragon Their Feet: If you kill Dracandros but didn't defeat the Dracolich, he will attack you soon after leaving the village.
- Extended Gameplay
- Faux First-Person 3D
- Guide Dang It (especially when obscure D&D game rules were involved, like the formula for controlling a Sphere of Annihilation or the fact that you need to take 30 days to use a stat-raising Manual)
- It's Up to You
- Light Is Not Good ( The Pool of Radiance was thought by most denizens of the Phlan and Dragonspire area—including one very luckless bronze dragon—to be a font of noble wisdom. Turns out it's really nothing more than Tyranthraxus's prison—the light is actually from his nimbus of fire. And he's managed to circumvent the prison problem by dragging the prison with his current host.)
- Mission Pack Sequel
- Old Save Bonus (advancing your character through the various Pool of Radiance games, for instance)
- Only Mostly Dead
- Role-Playing Game
- Summon Bigger Fish: At the end of Gateway to the Savage Frontier, the heroes use the Macguffins to defeat the Zhentarim and their allies by making a variety of creatures pretty much slaughter the evil armies.
- Wretched Hive: Phlan starts out like this at the start of Pools of Radiance, but after clearing it out block by block, as well as dealing with all sorts of monsters and villains throughout the series does the city well and finally get some much needed peace.
- Wutai Theft