Video Game: Dragonstomper

The only true Role-Playing Game for the Atari 2600, and considered one of the console's best games. Dragonstomper is a Starpath Supercharger game on cassette, released in 1982. Written by Stephen Landrum.

You must save the kingdom from a dragon by taking an amulet in its possession. Your Player Character has two stats: STR (Strength, or Hit Points) and DEX (Dexterity, or Armor Class). There are no Experience Points or Character Levels, but you can raise or lower these stats with certain items.

You start in The Enchanted Countryside, where you wander around and face a relentless barrage of Random Encounters. You can also seek out encounters in the castles, huts, trees, swamps, and grass. Combat is turn-based. You gather gold and items from the monsters. You can also find items in one of the castles, the churches, and the temples. Strength recovers with time, or you can heal yourself quickly in the churches. Each item does something; some help you, some hurt you. When you think you have enough gold and items, you need to get past the bridge guard to the Oppressed Village. The easiest way is with an ID paper, found in a glowing castle.

Once you're in the village, you'll see three shops; the Trade Shop, the Magic Shop, and the Hospital. Sell off your items from the countryside, and buy the items you'll need to take on the dragon. You'll also see three warriors, who you can hire to help you fight the dragon. And finally, you'll see the entrance to the Dragon's Cave. Enter whenever you think you're ready.

The cave is a vertically scrolling corridor filled with traps and the bones of previous adventurers. Use the spells you bought from the Magic Shop to reveal the invisible traps, and dodge your way through the poison darts bouncing back and forth. If you get hurt, you can Heal Thyself with medicines from the Hospital. Use a chain or rope from the Trade Shop to lower yourself down into the dragon's pit.

The dragon is a huge sprite in the center of the screen; you're at the bottom, and the amulet is at the top, behind a force field. The dragon will start advancing towards you. Theoretically, you can use an Unlock spell from the Magic Shop to open the force field; as soon as you touch the amulet, you've won, even if the dragon is still alive. But in practice, there's no way you can get past the dragon, so you have to fight him. Release your warriors, use Stun and Blast spells, shoot him with a bow and arrow, and if he reaches you, defend yourself with Protect spells and slash away.

The game actually doesn't end if you kill the dragon; you still have to touch the amulet, Once you do, the screen flashes and the song "Rule, Britannia!" plays.

Dragonstomper provides examples of:

  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: You have to bribe the warriors either with money, Rubies or Sapphires to recruit them.
  • Heal Thyself: Vitamins from the Hospital instantly recover hit points lost in the Dragon's Cave.
  • Hit Points: You start with 23, and can build it up by using the right item. Which one? Find out...
  • Mook Chivalry: If you get into a battle with multiple monsters, you combat them one at a time.
  • Musical Gameplay: Including the theme from Dragnet when a monster attacks, Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor ("The Funeral March") when you kill a monster, "We're In The Money" if you find gold, "Rule, Britannia!" when you win, and "Taps" if you die.
  • Non-Player Character: The bridge guard, three merchants, and three warriors in the village.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: It doesn't fly or breathe fire, but it's still very nasty.
  • Palette Swap: Gemstones in the Trade Shop, and all the spells in the Magic Shop.
  • Party in My Pocket: The warriors in the village. They stop being in your pocket in the final battle.
  • Player Character: A four-pixel dot.
  • Player Headquarters: The churches in the countryside.
  • Plot Coupon: An ID paper in the countryside. But it's not the only way past the bridge guard. You could bribe him, or fight him.
  • Pre Existing Encounters: If you walk into a specific piece of scenery in the countryside, odds are you'll run into a fight. Scorpions in the large pit, Monkeys in trees, etc.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "In The Hall of the Mountain King" when you enter the dragon's cave, "Rule, Britannia!" if you win.
  • Random Encounters: A constant stream of them in the countryside.
  • Respawning Enemies: In the countryside, after a time limit. Even places that just hand out items have respawning items.
  • Units Not to Scale: Given how small your character is, this is pretty extreme. Some of the objects you collect are an order of magnitude bigger than you.