Tuesday, August 01, 2017


The ultima gauntlet?

I've always had a spark of curiosity for Rogue but I also wondered why I should even bother with anything "roguelike" when I could instead crawl within the '3D' realms of Dungeon Master. Of course, I'm being stupid because this dates back to 1980 when gamers spent their lunch breaks staring at Rogue's text-based dungeons looking for Rodney's Amulet of Yendor! Epyx released our turn-based conversion back in 1986 and it's essentially the same venture through the Dungeons Of Doom but graphics have replaced that original text display.

Don't run away just yet, this dungeon may look rather 8-Bit but it works perfectly to suit the atmosphere and I really love it!! For me, it's the monsters that look the best and these are superbly drawn - I love the Ice Monster the most and the Zombie looks like he's about to get down and boogie. Pressing the Enter key will zoom out to display the entire map full screen and probably favourable to the purist with a more traditional view of the dungeon. Monsters are then represented by letters, ie: B for Bat, R for Rattlesnake, Z for Zombie, etc. Anyhow, let's begin...

Carefully explore each and every unique location and zoom out to see the map...

Let the adventure begin!

From the start, we're introduced to the adventure schematics which easily allows us to explore in relative safety with the easier baddies to contend with. I liked this learning curve because even a novice adventurer (ie, me) should appreciate it. However, having said that, take a look at my screenshot from a recent game which I'd only just begun - Wow, quite an incredible gang of nasties, I'm sure you'll agree? But this is a testament to the games ability to randomly generate interesting scenarios so Rogue will always feel different each time.

Control of our explorer is done using the keyboard and/or mouse but I personally prefer to use the keyboard for most actions. Also, there are other useful functions such as pressing ALT/click to identify an object or thing. Pressing F1 duplicates your last attack action with other neat shortcuts like 0 to rest or . to search (repeated searches are best). Rogue is a 'fast-playing' RPG that is meant to be enjoyed from start through to death (or success?) and in one sitting too. Once you're dead, you are buried and this is permanent. Sure, you can save your progress but when you come back to continue on, that is allowed only once. Hence, permadeath and it works.

There's so much more to this old dungeon crawler than just slaying the funky monsters!

Beware, you're not alone!

The enemies are a wild bunch alright! From traditional beasts like Snakes, Zombies and Bats to fantasy spooks like Ice Monsters, Hobgoblins and even Emus. Yes, there are emus down there! It's worth noting that not every character is immediately aggressive so it's advisable to try and tiptoe around a Leprechaun, a Nymph or a Centaur. I only wish Trolls and Wraiths had that relaxed temperament so make sure you wear good armour!

Fight back using swords, axes and more but there are also magical scrolls and potions which perform an insane variety of uses. For example, illuminating the dungeons or increase health, weapon strength, and so much more. However, not all are good so you may wish to empower yourself with the ability to identify any obscure items you may be carrying. After all, you might mistakingly conjure a demon or leave yourself blind in the darkness.

Some kind soul has left food but it isn't long before something appears from out of the darkness!

Tricks and traps

Rogue has its fair share of humour and lots of hidden traps so, if something doesn't feel right, then remember to search and you might just uncover a hidden passage. Watch out for teleporters that will zap you to another part of the map or maybe even drop you down a level. Gas sends you to sleep and bear traps are dangerous and require a few turns to escape their clutch. Avoid the temptation of a Nymph who might sneak something from your inventory and I certainly laughed when battling a Leprechaun - he actually managed to rob me of some gold. O_o

Rogue has some aspects which are funny. Heck, it's possible to be caught out by cursed clothing which is impossible to remove without using the right spell to contradict its effect. I travelled for five levels before being able to remove cursed chainmail which wasn't nice. Cursed clothing, who'd have thunk it? Finally, remember to look after yourself and watch those stats. Food is sparse down in the dungeons, which makes sense, so collect everything and only stop for a bite when needed. The careful adventurer will find exploring to be enjoyable and rewarding.

Carefully sneak by the old bat (insert mother-in-law joke) and beware of leprechauns on level 7


Nobody loads up Rogue to be blown away by dazzling visuals but this actually looks the part. I love how the dungeon itself looks which is bright, colourful and quite basic. It looks the business and feels like a graphical upgrade on the original but without ruining it. As I said earlier, the best parts are the sprites and seeing those little iddy-biddy monsters lurking in the dungeon is fantastic. They all look brilliant yet faithful to the original theme.

Sound effects are pretty much authentic to the original, ie there aren't any! Well, little beyond the default clicks & dings we're all used to. And that's perfectly fine and natural to what Rogue is all about.

I had an idea for my video recording - that's at the top of this web page so scroll back up! Anyhow, I wanted to replace the silence with something eerie using the Atari STe ACCessory: STe Background Audio Player. This plays samples using the DMA coprocessor (with a "hard drive" (Ultrasatan)) and works tremendously well without any slowdown. Let me know what you guys think?

Remember to use this view for a bigger image of your dungeon and keep stock of the inventory.

The CryptO'pinion?

As I write, I'm exploring level 14 but Rogue seems to have cranked up the difficulty a lot since level 9 and I admit to struggling: a Wraith and a Troll ganged up and sent me to an early grave so, I reloaded only to later suffer a humiliating beating by a Quagga! I now need to rest and hope nothing creeps up whilst I'm vulnerable. Hang on, I've a healing potion that should help me feel better and a spell to confuse the monsters. Excellent!!

Yes, Rogue is easy to get into and very rewarding!!! I'm still learning the ropes of this immense adventure so, have only scratched the surface, but I'm loving every minute of what is a tremendous experience. Possibly one of the best Atari ST games and a fantastic blast into the past that proves just what makes #roguelike so great.

Brave adventurers can install Rogue to hard drive or load from floppy using Automation #79.
Struggling with Rogue?? Then check out my new level maps which should help. :o)

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