Tuesday, August 01, 2017


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 this turn-based adventure for the Atari ST in 1986 and it's essentially the same venture through the Dungeons Of Doom but graphics have now replaced its original text interface.

Okay, our dungeon may still look rather 8-Bit but it works perfectly to suit the scene's atmosphere and I really like it. However, for me, it's the monsters which 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 its more traditional view of the dungeon. Monsters are then represented by letters, for example, B for Bat, R for Rattlesnake, Z for Zombie, etc, etc.

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

Control our explorer 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 which is meant to be enjoyed from start through to death (or success?) and in the one sitting. So, once you're dead, you are buried and this is permanent. Sure, you can save your progress but loading that to continue is allowed the once - it's not called permadeath for nothing. (so don't cheat w/ backups!)

Level one introduces us to the adventure ahead and allows us to explore in relative safety with only easier baddies to contend with: like the odd Bat or Kestral. I like the ease of this learning curve as even the most novice adventurer (ie, me) will appreciate it. However, having said this, take a look at my screenshot from a recent game which I've 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 an interesting experience which will always feel different. So the level maps, monsters, and items will change and you will never get the same game to play. Which is pretty darn awesome!

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

The enemies are a wild bunch. Sure, I expected the fantasy element like Ice Monsters, Hobgoblins and Zombies, who all fit the bill perfectly. I also expected to find more traditional nasties, like Snakes and Bats but how the heck did an Emu or a Kestral find its way into these dungeons? Brilliant!! It's worth noting that not every character is immediately aggressive and it's advisable to try and tiptoe around a Leprechaun, a Nymph or a Centaur. I only wish Trolls and Wraiths had the same relaxed temperament so make sure you wear armour and chose an effective weapon.

Magical scrolls and potions will perform an insane range 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, but don't let that stop you from throwing these nasty objects at something creepy. It's even possible to be caught out by cursed clothing which is impossible to remove without the right spell - I travelled for five levels before being able to remove cursed chainmail. Yep, cursed clothing lol. Food is sparse down in the dungeons, which kinda makes sense, but collect what you can and only stop for a bite to eat when instructed.

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

This game has its fair share of humour and lots of hidden traps so, if something doesn't feel right, then remember to search and you may 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's sound effects are pretty much authentic and that means there aren't any beyond the default clicks and dings. I wanted to record a video, but the silence was killing me, so I wondered how I might jazz it up a little. Well, Rogue is GEM-based and this means I can not only switch on the Blitter but also use ACCs and what better way to spruce up this old game than music? The STe Background Audio Player needs an Atari w/ a DMA audio coprocessor and a "hard drive" (Ultrasatan) and works tremendously well without any slowdown. Enjoy my video.

Sneak by the idle old bat (insert mother in law joke) but be careful otherwise you're dead!

Currently, I'm exploring level 14 but it seems to have cranked up the difficulty a lot since level 9 so I admit to struggling: a Wraith and a Troll ganged up and sent me to an early grave. I reloaded only to later suffer a humiliating beating by a Quagga... Mr Rogue will need to rest so I hope nothing creeps up whilst he's vulnerable. Hang on, I've a healing potion that will help him feel better and also a spell to confuse the monsters. Yes, Rogue is easy to get into and very rewarding but I'm still learning the ropes of this immense turn-based adventure. I might have only scratched the surface of this historic game but I'm loving every minute of what is a tremendous experience. Play this. Now.

Brave adventurers can install Rogue to their hard drive or run it from floppy disk using Automation #79. Those struggling might find it helpful that I've now managed to fully map each and every dungeon - enjoy!!

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