Tuesday, August 01, 2017


The ultima gauntlet?

I've always had a spark of curiosity for Rogue but (looking back) I have 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 (no complaints from me! lol).

Don't run away in disgust just yet, this dungeon may look rather 8-Bit but that works perfectly to suit the atmosphere and I really love it!! For me, it's the monsters that look the best as 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 and the entire map is viewed full screen. This is probably favourable to the purist using a more traditional oldskool view of the dungeon? Monsters are then represented by letters, ie: B for Bat, R for Rattlesnake, Z for Zombie, etc...

Which visual display style do you prefer? Let's take a look at both right now...

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 allow us to explore in relative safety against the easier baddies to contend with. I liked this learning curve because 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 also a testament to the game's ability to randomly generate interesting scenarios with each new game. So, Rogue will always feel different each time you decide to boot it up.

Direction control of our little explorer is done using the ST's keypad which can be used in combo with or without the mouse. Personally, I prefer to use the keyboard for everything. There are other useful functions such as pressing ALT/click to identify an object or creature. Also, pressing F1 duplicates your last attack action with other neat shortcuts like 0 to rest and '.' to search (repeated searches give the best results).

Rogue is an ARPG that is meant to be enjoyed from start through to death/victory. Once you've been beaten, you are buried and this is permanent. You can save your progress but, coming back to continue is only allowed once (as that file is deleted). Hence, permadeath, and this may sound unfair but it works well and suits the theme perfectly.

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 - they're so mean - so make sure you have 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 increasing 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.

Like the dungeon itself, both the enemies and objects are randomly generated so you never get to perform the same battle twice or know the location of items. This is one of the many things that makes Rogue very special.

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

Tricks and traps

This is a game with its fair share of humour with 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 as he actually managed to rob me of my gold. O_o

Rogue has some aspects which are traditional yet still very funny - like being caught by cursed clothing which is then impossible to remove without using the right spell to counteract it. I travelled for five levels before being able to remove a nasty piece of cursed chainmail. Cursed clothing, who'd have thunk it? Irritating but humorous too.

Finally, remember to look after yourself and watch those stats. Food is sparse down in the dungeons, which kinda makes sense, so collect everything and only stop for a bite when it's absolutely needed. The action is lurking around every corner but a careful adventurer will find tactical exploring to be both enjoyable and rewarding. Think before you act.

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 is actually much better than I imagined. 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 as ST owners, which is perfectly fine and natural to what Rogue is all about. However, I'd have liked an option to turn off the clicks without having to resort to using something like XControl (don't forget that!!).

I had an idea for my video recording - that's at the top of this page - so scroll back up. 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 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. Yeah, there is so much to this fascinating game!!

Yes, Rogue is easy to get into and extremely rewarding. I'm still learning the ropes of this immense dungeon crawler and I feel I have only scratched the surface. But I'm loving every minute of what is a tremendous experience and possibly one of the best Atari ST games. This is a blast into the past that proves just what makes #roguelike so great.

Actually, this is one of the best games I have ever played, regardless of the platform. Absolutely wonderful!!

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

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