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Video Game / Dragonstomper

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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, though it actually represents 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 use the Magic Antidotes and Healing Potions you bought 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:

  • 3/4 View: Gameplay is Top-Down View, but the sprites are mostly Side View or front view.
  • Action Bar: The bottom of the screen has a text window that tells you your options and warns you of approaching monsters. When something happens, it turns into a menu.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The dragon slowly moves towards you. There appears to be a way past it to the amulet, but in practice, there's no way to run around the dragon.
  • An Economy Is You: The Oppressed Village consists only of an items shop, a magic shop, a hospital that's just a medicine shop, and three warriors you can hire.
  • Anti-Magic: The dragon can cancel your spells.
  • Booby Trap: Invisible traps are laid around the castles in the countryside, and again in the dragon's cave. If you bump into one, you get stuck and take damage. Magic spells will allow you to see them.
  • Boss Room: The dragon's pit. It's a one-screen room with you at the bottom, the amulet at the top, and the dragon filling a large part of the center.
  • Broken Bridge: The bridge to the village is guarded, and the guard wants your identification papers. You could fight him, or try to find an ID paper somewhere in the countryside.
  • Critical Existence Failure: You and the monsters fight at full strength to the last hit point.
  • The Dragonslayer: You're here to kill a dragon.
  • Extra Turn: The dragon gets two turns.
  • Final Boss: The dragon is the last enemy you face, and he's quite the bossy beast.
  • Game Levels: The game is divided into the countryside, the town, and the cave.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: You have to bribe the warriors either with money, Rubies or Sapphires to recruit them.
  • Healing Potion: Vitamins for sale in the village. They recover hit points lost in the Dragon's Cave.
  • Heroic Fantasy: You're out to save the Kingdom, but not the world.
  • Hit Points: You start with 23, and can build it up by using the right item. Which one? Find out...
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Your little four-pixel knight can carry dozens of handaxes, shields, potions, treasure chests, bows and arrows, medicine bottles, and even three warrior NPCs.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: One of the items dropped by the monsters in the countryside. They're always locked, so you have to use up one of your Interchangeable Antimatter Keys. They contain gold and might have an item.
  • Informed Equipment: Your character can fight with his sword, a handaxe, or a bow and arrow. But onscreen, he's just a dot.
  • Instant 180-Degree Turn: The warriors marching back and forth in the village, the poison darts in the cave, and the dragon all reverse direction instantly.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: In the countryside. They can open castles, churches, or chests, and they vanish after one use.
  • Invisible Wall: Barriers surrounding the Enchanted Countryside, the village, and the start of the cave.
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: Every magic item and spell disappears after one use.
  • 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. The dragon's stolen it, and you have to get it back. But it doesn't do anything.
  • Magic Antidote: Medicine from the hospital removes the poison from the darts in the cave.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The game is set in a simple fantasy world reminiscent of Europe in late antiquity or the early Middle Ages, with castles, churches, Greek temples, a village, and the dragon in its cave.
  • Money Spider / Random Drop: The monsters in the countryside drop money and/or an item when you kill them. Some of the buildings also drop a fixed item when you touch them.
  • 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 come out of you in the final battle.
  • Player Character: A four-pixel dot.
  • Player Headquarters: You tend to stay close to the churches in the countryside, so you can buy some healing in a hurry if an encounter leaves you near death.
  • 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.
  • Poison Mushroom: Some of the items you find in the countryside hurt you if you use them. But they aren't completely useless, you can sell them when you get to the village.
  • 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: Your STR slowly regenerates 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: The game is a basic Dungeons & Dragons-inspired RPG with most of the essential elements: A character with stats, items, monsters to fight in Turn-Based Combat, a town with shops, and a cave with a dragon.
  • Schizo Tech: In the midst of this medieval fantasy world is a modern-looking hospital selling bottles of vitamin pills.
  • The Six Stats: Two of them, Strength and Dexterity, though they actually represent Hit Points and Armor Class respectively.
  • Turn-Based Combat: Encounters are handled using the menu window at the bottom of the screen. Using the joystick, you navigate through your options: Fight, run, bribe, or use an item. Once you've made your decision, you find out how much damage you've inflicted or if you were able to run or bribe the monster. Then it gets a turn to attack you. The fight with the dragon adds movement, since the dragon doesn't start out in hand-to-hand combat with you. If you've brought the warriors, you can release them and they get turns moving and attacking the dragon.
  • 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: Any of the items you find in the countryside or buy in the village can be used, some only in combat, some anytime.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Unlock opens the barrier around the amulet, and if you can touch the amulet you win the game, even if the dragon is still alive. But can you get past the dragon? Probably not.
  • Video Game Geography: Each of the three areas is flat and rectangular.


Example of: