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Share Memories of Playing the old Gold Box/SSI games...

LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
I was wondering if anybody else here remembers playing the old Gold Box Strategic Simulations Games? I found the first one in college. Someone in the computer lab had a copy and would allow you to play it in the lab. Ah, 8 bit graphics! And he'd also copy it for you (this was long before I learned computer game piracy was an issue, so I acknowledge how wrong I was back then for doing so. He'd even pulled apart the code wheel and photocopied it, so you could get a copy of it and cut it out (along with the windows that showed the codes). My biggest memory was that there was a place in the training hall where you could hire other adventurers to go adventuring with you. If you hired the 6th level fighters, when they died, they dropped Plate Mail +1 and a +1 Sword, which was like free loot. Oh yes, and the hardest encounter in the slums was three Trolls who would regenerate after you killed them if they weren't killed by fire. And they were tough. But if one of your characters was standing on a downed troll and got killled, they'd regenerate instead of the troll. Good times! And when I finally got my own computer, it was all in color- Holy Crap! It was like a whole new game!

The Encounter with Tyranthraxus at the end, in the body of a Bronze Dragon, had to be one of the most difficult i've ever fought. The game allowed you to reach 6th Level, and even at that level, six characters attempting to kill a Bronze Dragon with 88 hit points and a breath weapon was NOT easy.

And then the next game, Curse of the Azure Bonds, takes away all the treasure you managed to garner in the first game. (Cue Dirk Dastardly-style cursing here.) I think my least favorite section of the game takes place in the tower of Dracandros. It's a long, hard slog, and his fire shield at the end gave me fits.

My favorite in that series is the third game, Secret of the SIlver Blades, which just really felt epic. You are summoned to a new place (again, without your gear) and have to deal with the aftermath of a war between two brothers- a Paladin and a Mage. You have to slay the Spirit Abomination the Mage has become and free his soul, while at the same time defending the town from an attack from monsters formerly imprisoned in a glacier, which has begun to melt. I loved the mines- all nine levels of them! And the character of Vala, who you free in the mines and who becomes your companion. Plus, there is a huge section of ruins you can spend endless time exploring, and an area with teleporters that allow you to travel back to town from deep in the Mine/Ice Crevasses/Castle, but only after you travel to get there. I played this game a lot, and it remains my favorite of all the games.

Pools of Darkness was the end of the series, and it took you back to Phlan, only to watch it and other cities get scooped from the Realms and into Limbo, and you have to fight Tyranthraxus, again, along with a whole new, Higher Level set of foes. I only played it fully through once, but it was damned near EPIC.

I also ended up getting a copy of Dark Queen of Krynn long after it came out as part of a "Value Games" series. I'd never spent much time playing in Krynn, even though I had played the original modules when they came out ages before. And this one takes the characters from Ansalon (where all of the Original Modules happen), to Taladas, the sister continent, inhabited by, among other things, minotaurs, where you have a final showdown with Tiamat in her Dragon form. Not having played the previous two adventures, my characters were crippled at first because they didn't have a Dragonlance, and you need to fight Dragons in an underwater city. Without a Dragonlance, that was... difficult to say the least. It wasn't until I'd finished and re-imported my characters to play again a second time that I felt I was up to some portions of the game.

So, do you remember playing the SSI Gold Box games? What are/were your favorite memories and encounters, or least favorites? Please, share your stories!



  • DazzuDazzu Member Posts: 924
    I do... but looking back, there was a lot that irked me: females being weak, non-humans being worthless if not a thief and a lack of things like druids, bards... and knowing they intended to have monks all along hurts too.

    Meh, I'd say an enhanced version of Unlimited Adventures has huge potential!

  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
    @Dazzu Yeah, those were the 1e rules. And I never played Unlimited Adventures (unfortunately). But I did play a Civilization-like D&D game called Stronghold. That was very interesting.

  • DazzuDazzu Member Posts: 924
    Unlimited Adventures was simply a FR Goldbox game maker module.

  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    That certainly brings back memories. I must have replayed those games a million times. I remember hunting through the creepy graveyard to find the vampire in Pool of Radiance, diving into the well to retrieve a +1 Flame Tongue sword, and trying to maintain my disguise while surrounded by monsters at the auction. Lots of fun!

    After that I believe I played every one of the Gold Box series and the spin offs. They all had their own unique elements. The Krynn series was memorable for its unique magic rules, and Gateway to the Savage Frontier had some fun elements as well, like hunting down unique materials to make a magical sword, or fighting underwater against angry sea life. Given the limitations of the time the developers really managed to offer some imaginative gameplay.

    The Gold Box games will always have a special place in my gaming heart, not just because of how much fun I had playing them, but also because they introduced me to the Forgotten Realms setting and all the associated novels and products I've enjoyed so much over the years.

  • IsandirIsandir Member Posts: 453
    @LadyRhian: I just stumbled across this thread after doing a search out of curiosity. I adored the three Gold Box series and played through a few of them several times. My first exposure to the Forgotten Realms was Pool of Radiance. In fact, though I still haven't played BG:EE in its entirety (or even the first few chapters), I just started playing PoR again a few days ago.

    Going from several classes and numerous kits to fighter, cleric, mage and thief (which you never need anyway) is a bit of a shock to the system after all these years, but I have to admit: I've having a blast. I don't mind the old graphics since I often replay games from the 80s and 90s, and the engine is still superb.

    My personal favorite was also Secret of the Silver Blades, but in terms of sheer awe, Pools of Darkness takes the cake. It was simply incredible to witness the sheer scope of the story as you progress--especially when you realize you're walking on a dead god's body. I think my party would have put my BG PC to shame by the end.

    I really hope that a team pegs the games for remakes. A wonderful guy by the name of Ray Dyer did remake Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds using Unlimited Adventures (meaning they were put on par with Pools of Darkness), but that's about it. If someone does aim to resurrect the series as a mod or--as @Dazzu mentioned--release an enhanced version of Unlimited Adventures, I'd immediately be on board to make portraits and other artwork...

  • IsandirIsandir Member Posts: 453
    And after doing a bit of digging, I found this... Click on the second link under "Ray Dyer's Modules." Every single one is a playable Gold Box game, assuming you have Unlimited Adventures installed, which is conveniently available to download here if you don't already have it.

    Oh, my. If I let myself get sucked into this, I may have no life for the next few months...

  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 2,905
    I made certain to get all of the Gold Box games when they came out. Alas, if only I still had all the original boxes and disks, as well as the original documentation.....that is what I get for letting someone less-than-completely-responsible borrow my old Commodore64 and games after I had upgraded to a C-128. Anyway....

    There is an entire forum dedicated to UA Hacking, another place where Simeon Pilgrim managed to uncover cheat codes for the Gold Box games, and an explorer tool called GoldBox Explorer. If you have a computer which runs WinXP then the old games run natively; if not, then an emulator like DosBox will be required.

    These games were memorable because hey were unlike other games before them (for the most part). Ironically, they are *more* challenging and *more* difficult than games these days. @LadyRhian mentioned Dracandros' Tower being "a long, hard slog" and she is correct; however, what she didn't tell you is that to get there you have to either a) surrender most of your treasure or b) fight a dracolich. That isn't the worst of it--the Mulmaster Beholder Corps, if you can find their hideout, is *impossible* unless you keep the Dust of Disappearance for the entire length of the game--I tried, even with hacked characters (setting my mage level to something ridiculous like 99 to get 99d6 fireballs) and could never defeat them all. Dave's Challenge at the end of POD--probably the hardest dungeon *ever*; even Malefia in Bard's Tale III was easier.

    Between PoR, CotAB, Wasteland, Dragon Wars, and Bard's Tale III I am surprised that I managed to make good grades my senior year of high school and the first year in university.

  • IsandirIsandir Member Posts: 453
    I still don't remember what I did when I encountered the Beholder Corps. I think I tried it once, shook my head in disbelief and left them alone.

    Dragon Wars is another personal favorite. I've played that game to death--so much so, that I only have a single character in my party now that I just reload each time I play. He's level 328 and makes mincemeat out of everything... :)

  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 2,905
    @Isandir I never got a character anywhere near that level but I did always hack my dragon stones so that they had infinite charges. Does he use the Freedom Sword or Gatlin Bow + Magic Quiver?

  • IsandirIsandir Member Posts: 453
    Freedom Sword once I get to Freeport, but I've always had a fondness for the Slicer. It was the first powerful sword I found in the game, and I often stick with it even when I get some of the more powerful weapons.

    The character only reached that level because I had played through so many times with my party that I wondered if a single character could handle it. I dropped everyone else, and sure enough, he survived. I then kept replaying with him...over and over and over and over...

    Some of my other favorites than I still occasionally play are Spirit of Excalibur and Vengeance of Excalibur, and Ultima V and VI. I do try to boot up The Magic Candle and Bloodstone every once in a while, but I usually give up pretty fast. The sheer amount of notetaking that was required for those games was insane.

  • karnor00karnor00 Member Posts: 679
    I started playing Pool of Radiance again over the weekend. I'm old enough to have played the original games back when they first came out (I must have been around 10 when I played them).

    I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible it still is. The graphics were obviously primitive, but I don't think they look too bad, and don't (for me at least) detract from the atmosphere.

    There's no in-game journal which comes as something of a shock because I'm now so used to the game keeping all my notes for me. Although there is actually an in-game map which surprised me! (although it only shows walls, and unfortunately not the doors).

    There are a few particularly clunky bits from how the interface works
    - individual money per character instead of pooled gold for everyone. Just very inconvienient to transfer things around.
    - memorising spells - it doesn't keep track of which spells you memorise so every time you rest you need to manually select the spells. At level 3 it's not a huge issue but I can see this getting annoying.
    - recovering health - only one healing spell, cure light wounds. And no upgrade until the next game! Although later games should have a fix command which will take care of this problem.

    Still, overall I'm enjoying things so far. It's amazing how much atmosphere can be generated with just a few lines of text to convey the plot.

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