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Telengard (TRS-80)

A lot of dungeon in a small package

The Good
Imagine fitting an unpredictable, but fixed, dungeon map of two million locations (200x200x50) into 48K RAM, with a program running in a BASIC interpreter. Each location can have one of ten features, which are also the same from program run to program run. In Telengard, this is accomplished novelly by distributing extended ASCII graphical characters across a three-dimensional grid with what amounts to a complex formula. Do the same with the features. Simply store in RAM the location of the player character in that grid, plug the coordinates into the formula, and draw the immediate surroundings on the screen. Then randomly generate monsters and treasures. This remains the most elegant BASIC program I've ever seen.

The Bad
Like most Rogue variants, frustration comes via a burst of bad luck which can waste a carefully nurtured character, with the save file automatically zapped.

The Bottom Line
For me and my friends in 1983, this was the most playable and addictive program on the TRS-80. I drew pages and pages of maps as I explored new territory. Teleport and pit traps guarantee that with just a little boldness, you will eventually find yourself lost in unfamiliar territory, trying to find an inn where you can heal up and store your treasure before the monsters wear you down. With three combat options (fight, cast, evade) you can tailor your strategy to your character's attributes. Since stored gold turns into experience and there is plenty of treasure lying around, an agile character can increase in experience as fast a strong one, without needing to beat up monsters. For the truly bold, a Gray Misty Cube will take you straight down any number of levels, where one treasure find can make the career of a low level character, provided you can get back up to an inn before a level 80 kobold levels you.

By Slik on October 1st, 2009