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:
- Three-Quarters View: Similar to The Legend of Zelda.
- Action Bar
- Advancing Boss of Doom: The dragon.
- An Economy Is You: The Oppressed Village.
- Anti-Magic: The dragon can cancel your spells.
- Boss Room: The dragon's pit.
- Broken Bridge: The bridge to the village.
- Extra Turn: The dragon gets two turns.
- Final Boss: The dragon.
- Game Levels: Three.
- Give Me Your Inventory Item: You have to bribe the warriors either with money, Rubies or Sapphires to recruit them.
- The Golden Age of Video Games
- Heal Thyself: Vitamins from the Hospital instantly recover hit points lost in the Dragon's Cave.
- Heroic Fantasy
- Hit Points: You start with 23, and can build it up by using the right item. Which one? Find out...
- Hyperspace Arsenal
- Instant 180 Degree Turn: The warriors marching back and forth in the village, the poison darts in the cave, and the dragon.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: In the countryside. They can open castles, churches, or chests.
- Invisible Wall: Surrounding the Enchanted Countryside, the village, and the start of the cave.
- Loading Screen: The Starpath Supercharger displays two blue bars coming together to fill the screen as the game loads.
- Locked Door: Some of the castles and churches in the countryside are locked.
- MacGuffin: The amulet.
- Money Spider: The monsters in the countryside.
- 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.
- Regenerating Health: In the countryside.
- Respawning Enemies: In the countryside, after a time limit. Even places that just hand out items have respawning items.
- Role-Playing Game
- Turn-Based Combat
- 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.
- Use Item: Feels weird...
- Useless Useful Spell: Unlock.
- Vancian Magic: Every magic item and spell disappears after one use.
- Video Game Geography: Flat and rectangular.