Dungeon Master

aka: Crystal Dragon
Moby ID: 834
Atari ST Specs
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Dungeon Master is a role-playing game where the player selects four adventurers and descend into the depths of the dungeon. The gameplay is reminiscent of the 3D dungeon crawl type of role-playing games popularized by Wizardry and The Bard's Tale. However, unlike these games, Dungeon Master features real-time combat, which requires the player to click on the opponent in order to execute an attack. Another notable aspect of the game is its growth system: instead of gathering experience points and leveling up, characters improve by repeatedly using the same action. Spellcasting involves selecting and combining symbols, which can be arranged as rune sequences. The game also allows the player to directly interact with objects in the game world through a point-and-click interface.

Spellings

  • ダンジョン・マスター - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Atari ST version)

7 People

Program Design
Visual Design
Audio
Prologue
Cover Painting

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 37 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 160 ratings with 7 reviews)

The game that got me into the RPG realm

The Good
Back into 1990, i had a PC and an MSX and played only Action/Platform games on it. I didn't pay much attention to adventure games, and never even knew or considered playing an RPG game.

In fact, I liked action and didn't even think that games can be of other categories than action or reflexion/puzzle games. One day in 1990, my uncle who had a 286 at that time, gave me a copy of a game with the name 'Dungeon' handwritten on top of an old 3in1/2 diskette.

I put it on the disk-drive and run the game by typing Dm.bat. It took some time to load from the floppy disk, i don't remember playing the game directly from the hard-disk. After a few seconds there comes a sound like the passing of an F16 with the FTL logo showing in yellow on the screen. Then comes a door, a black door with a button nearby. The colour of the door, and the fact that it was located on a mountain, drew my imagination that something malefic and fearsome has to be lying behind it. I just wanted to open it and face the mystery behind it.

Once opened, a long corridor was lying in front me, i couldn't exploring the area. I found the keyboards controls easy, i used the keys for directions and the mouse for action. The first thing colorful i found was some kind of portraits on the walls, so i clicked on them, to find that there is a room for a party of 4. In all the games I played, I was always playing as one player, now in this one i found myself playing (managing)four!, i noticed that they get hungry with time, that was new to me, I had to find food for them (I recall that food was a stressing problem, I had some members die of hunger!). There were many things to take care of, this was entirely new to me, among the many quests was the stressing quest for food!. After forming my party I took stairs to go one level down, every time i saw a down stair it was with mixed with fear and anxiety that i did get down. Shit! a mummy!, the death sound it had terrified me. I took a dagger and throw on him three times like a mad man to kill him and save my beautiful party. I couldn't resist going down and deep the dungeon, the mix of exploration, fighting, magic, monsters, treasures, puzzles, party experience increase, management of players (food, sleeping, light) and the dark atmosphere hooked me unto the game like no other before. There were wall inscriptions that i still remember even now more that 15 years after playing the game.

I played it day and night, non stop for about 4 months, only to be stuck in front of the end game Monster (I didn't knew at that time that it was the end game monster). I didn't knew how to defeat it. I desperately tried to find some solution, but at that time, there was no Internet, and in my country there was no magazine with a hint or solution on how to finish game. Stuck in despair, I abandoned the game, lost my "dungeon" disk, and played other games, in hope that one day I could find the solution to my 'Dungeon' game. I remember that every time I got into a library, I tried to find computer/games books, in hope to find one talking about this 'Dungeon' game, in vain.

One day in 1992, I came across a small book with the title "Best 100 games", looking if there was my 'Dungeon' game in it, i was surprised to find it, it was the first time i read about 'Dungeon'. I was very happy to know that the author considered it to be a great game!, that was also my opinion, I was happy to know that I played a great game!. Reading the page about 'Dungeon', I found that probably the monster I found was the last one, and that to defeat it I had to use the Firestaff and a magic cage.

I drop the book to its place and run to see my uncle, hoping that hes still had the 'dungeon' disk. Finding me exited about getting the game, he asked me proudly if i liked his disk, very much i responded. He searched for it in midst of thousand of disks, and Thanks heaven he found it!. I took it again to my PC and began from scratch, with a new party, ready to rock through the game.

Then after 4 months of playing non stop, I found myself in front of the evil final boss with the Firestaff in hand. This time I knew how to use it, setting a cage around the Lord of Chaos (his bad name) i caught him in it badly. Being stuck in the magic cage I used the Firestaff spell to get the hell out of him. At last, I finished 'Dungeon'!, It was a great moment for me, I showed the ending to two of my brothers that were following my adventure through the game.

I regret one thing, i didn't show the ending to one of my brothers, because of something i don't remember, we were young and played the silly game: show me your game endings, i'll show mine or similar kind of things.

One day, after finishing the game my uncle told me if 'Dungeon' was a good game, even tough he'll never play it, he liked to hear that his games are good, I replied "sure! but the game name is not 'Dungeon' but 'DUNGEON MASTER'!".

Even now, i think that Dungeon Master comes to my mind every day or so!, and as one of my brothers calls it this game 'DDDDDUNGEON MASTER' is a GREAT game.

The Bad
Nothing at the time. Now, it is a little bit outdated. It's sad to recognize that a game can be outdated, unlike books. I think that 'Dungeon Master' needs only graphics/animations enhancements to be up to the modern games standards.

The Bottom Line
Try to play, even if the graphics may rebuke you, at least go past the second stair. If you can't stand the graphics then play 'Lands of lore' or 'Gothic II', those may compensate not playing 'Dungeon Master'.

DOS · by Ali Jakamy (7) · 2005

One of the greatest early computer RPGs.

The Good
A well-balanced and engrossing CRPG. Dungeon walls with real texture, terrifying monsters appearing around a corner. Challenging environmental puzzles involving doors, switch plates, traps, and much more. Unique spell system that players learn by finding spell scrolls and experimenting.

The Bad
An amusing bug allowed resistance items (e.g. fire resistance) to stack to a point where spells did negative damage... Except that they used unsigned arithmetic, so a small negative number turned into a huge positive one. The better you're equipped, the faster you die. This is almost a positive - It's the most terrifying RPG I've played. Another bug could cause the game to freeze in the endgame if you used items in almost the correct way to win. However, these are rare exceptions in a mostly very solid program.

The Bottom Line
Any aspiring RPG designer needs to play and study Dungeon Master. Players who think that a CRPG can't approach the tabletop experience should play DM and be amazed. Dungeon Master is a truly great game, and I wouldn't mind playing it again today.

Atari ST · by Corey Cole (36) · 2023

Lost a summer playing this

The Good
This game took time and patience to complete and could be incredibly frustrating but you always knew you were going to play it to the end. When I played this when I was younger some of the enemies were genuinely frightening. There are many emulated versions of this game now (some in java/flash) - try it out!

The Bad
Sometimes finding endless keys to open doors became a little repetitive. The final level was incredibly tough, people who have played it will understand.

The Bottom Line
A terrific early RPG type game that still plays well today, just make sure you have a few spare days to play it.

Atari ST · by Shaun Scott (2) · 2006

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
PC release date? Pseudo_Intellectual (66423) Jun 16, 2015

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Dungeon Master appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

CDTV version

Amongst many Dungeon Master was ported to the Amiga CDTV but this version was never completed because FTL could not obtain reliable information from Commodore about save-game options. This version would have had additional animation and sound.

Development

In 1981 Andy Jaros and Doug Bell founded their own development studio called "PVC Dragon" and started working on the game called Crystal Dragon. It was supposed to be influenced by Ultima series but with a hope of being a "much better game" (as stated Doug Bell in Retro Gamer Issue 34). The game was developed in Pascal on Apple II. After two years of programming, due to financial problems, they decided to find shelter under the wings of another development company. In 1983 the team joined FTL for a temporary period of time in order to get the game to a working state. When Atari ST was announced, FTL decided to halt all the works on the Apple II version of the game and port all the code to Atari ST which was "much more capable computer than the Apple and better suited for Crystal Dragon." The idea was to release the game for the debut of the new 16-bit machine at the beginning of 1985. However doing both, porting from Apple II to Atari ST and completing the game, which was still work-in-progress, was impossible to make it on time, so they decided to port to Atari ST a different game of FTL - SunDog: Frozen Legacy which was about to be released on Apple II. This move bought them some time to get an experience of coding on Atari ST and they could resume working on Crystal Dragon. By this time the game was renamed to Dungeon Master and all the code was ported from Pascal to C. It was basically ready to be released at the end of 1985 and was previewed in a demo version released in May 1985, however they decided to expand the initial scope of the game and postponed the premiere to 1987. The game was fitted on a single-sided diskette 360 kB in size however the uncompressed data would take 1.6 MB.

Dungeon Master was ported later to other platforms. The first port was on Amiga in 1988 followed by AppleIIGS and FM Towns (1989), Sharp X68000 and PC-98 (1990), SNES (1991) and finally MS-DOS and PC-Engine (1992).

DOS version

The DOS version contains some individual marks: it has an extra animation at the end of the game and plays music in the starting screen.

PC-Engine version

PC-Engine version of the game deviated from the original title in number of ways. It was subtitled Theron's Quest and instead of one big dungeon it was split into seven small dungeons, each of which contained puzzles and maps from original Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back. The biggest change was in the introduction in an anime style that told the story of a teenage boy named Theron proving his worth by defending an evil force. The player has to play always as Theron and is able to hire only three additional champions. Your three companions lose all their skills and items after completing each dungeon. Theron also loses all his items, but not his skills. Another change is possibility to make saves only after completing the dungeon.

Speaker

In the United States FTL released an sound adapter along with Dungeon Master. It connected to the computer's joystick port and plugged into any speaker or amplifier to add digital sound to the Dungeon Master game. Built into the device was a 9-pin joystick adapter.

Awards

  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
    • February 1991 (issue #41) - Included in the list Greatest Games of all Time, section Role-Playing Games (editorial staff choice)
  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (Issue #00) - #16 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
  • Computer Gaming World
    • October 1988 (Issue #52) - Special Artistic Achievement Award
    • November 1989 (Issue #65) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #49 on the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #63 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1989 - Best Role Playing Game in 1988
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #34 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • ST Format
    • May 1990 (Issue #10) - Included in the list "ST Format's 30 Kick-Ass Classics"
    • August 1991 (Issue #25) – #2 Top Atari ST Classic Games (Editorial staff vote)
    • January 1993 (issue #42) – #4 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list

Information also contributed by Macintrash, PCGamer77, Rantanplan, The Real DJ and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

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  • MobyGames ID: 834
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Chris Martin.

Sharp X68000 added by Rola. PC-98, Apple IIgs, FM Towns added by Terok Nor. Amiga, SNES, Atari ST added by Rantanplan.

Additional contributors: xcom1602, Pseudo_Intellectual, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Rik Hideto, Jo ST, FatherJack.

Game added February 7, 2000. Last modified May 27, 2024.