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Dungeon Master isn't just a game, it's a religion. Even though the game was made in 1987 for the Atari ST (and a PC port was made two years later) the fanbase is quite big today. This 'mother of all rpg's' was certainly groundbreaking when it appeared, both in gameplay and graphics. The 3D first person perspective was still rather unheard of in those days, as most games were side- or topview. The fact that you'd have a team of 4 characters that you could each specialise and the huge dungeon to explore made it an instant hit. The sheer amount of ports for this game for every operating system and 3d engine you can imagine proves that Dungeon Master isn't forgotton at all!
Your master, a wizard, has been doomed to a life in limbo, due to an accident with a magical artifact. His evil half, Lord Chaos, has taken control of the large dungeon and your task is to defeat him. The only problem is that you are yourself also touched by the accident and can not take a physcial form. Luckily in one of the first rooms of the dungeon, the souls of many brave adventures can be ressurected. In the 'Hall of Champions' you have to pick up to 4 Champions with which you're going to try an solve the quest. There are magicians, priests, ninjas and fighters to choose from. They al have a lot of different starting skills, stats and equipment.
There's not much to explain about this game. Everything that's in a decent RPG nowadays is also found in Dungeon Master, only a bit more primitive. After you've chosen your Champions you start to search the dungeon, venturing deeper and deeper. Each character has an inventory with plenty armor and equipment slots as well as a large enough packback. They need to eat, drink and sleep now and again to regain there powers. You can find food in many rooms, and in the remains of some enemies, and water from fountains all over the place.
Naturally, you'll encounter a lot of enemies which you have to fight.This fighting appears to be more or less turn-based. You have to choose which Champion performs what combat action by selecting his or her weapon and an appropriate action. It takes a little getting used to, but works pretty well. Watch your stats though, if you die, you have to be ressurected using a special device on the top floor of the dungeon. One of the other Champions has to carry your bones over there in order to make this happen. On top of all the fights, there are lots of puzzles in the game, varying from long searches for hidden keys, to intricate puzzels using switches and traps.
Sound and graphics:
The sound-effects are acceptable. A creaky door, a shrieking mummy, grunting hero's and a swords clash, but nothing fancy. There's no background music at all. The graphics were, as said, pretty nifty for those days, and are still pretty appealing. They're bright, nicely drawn and there's some animation as well.
This is a must-have for any RPG or dungeon crawler fan, but everyone else should give it a try as well. Read the background story in the manual to get in the mood and the technical details about spell-casting and you're ready to go! The game 'only' gets a four, because I really missed some moody music in the background. It was probably left out due to memory limitations back then, but still it's a shame. If for some reason you want to try the game in a more modern jacket, you can play one of the many clones (some of which have been made using high-tech 3d engines) or the Java version which is an accurate copy of the original, only with better graphics and sound-effects.
The game runs in XP, but without sound. VDMSound can probably fix this, but since the background music is non-existent, you can probably have a good game without sound; just select speaker sound so you'll hear when some enemy is hitting you! In DOSBox it works like charm off course.