Dragonstomper

Name:
Dragonstomper
Company: Starpath
Model #:
AR4400
Programmer:
Stephen Landrum
Year: 1982
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Originally called Excalibur

 

In 1982 an innovative company named Arcadia developed what would become the best 2600 accessory ever created.  This accessory not only allowed games to be loaded from tapes (a much cheaper format than cartridges), but added a whopping 6K of memory to the 2600 (bringing the total up to 8K).  Not only did this allow for more complex games (multiple levels could easily be loaded from the tape), but the extra memory allowed programmers to create better more detailed graphics.  What is this miracle device I speak of?  Why it's the Supercharger of course!  And without the miracle of the Supercharger, a game like Dragonstomper would never have been possible.

 

Often referred to as Dragon Warrior 0.5, Dragonstomper is the only true RPG for the 2600 (and no games like Adventure don't count!).  Not only is Dragonstomper an intriguing multi-screened adventure game, but it also allows the player to fight monsters and gain experience using a turn based combat system.  While it may not be on the same level as the complex RPG's of today, Dragonstomper is amazingly impressive considering that it's running on an Atari 2600.

 

You are the Dragonstomper (how exactly does one stomp a dragon?).  The king has summoned you to dispatch the evil dragon and return peace to the land (peace is so overrated.).  However even with your fabled powers you are not yet powerful enough to take on the dragon.  You must first explore the countryside, gaining strength, experience, and most importantly gold!  For without gold you will not be able to recruit men or buy items to help you defeat the dragon.

 

The Enchanted Countryside

You will spend most of the game here in the enchanted countryside.  Your goal here is explore the region, finding useful items and earning gold.  As you explore you will be attacked by the various beasts the roam the countryside, this is a good thing.  By fighting monsters you will gain gold, and items such as keys, rings, potions, axes, and shields which will help you in the final battle against the dragon.  You start out with 23 strength points which are used to calculate how much damage you do to an enemy, but also double as your hit points.  Strength points will return slowly over time, but you can gain more by donating money to the church.  Your character also starts out with 23 dexterity points, which are used to help you escape traps, dodge enemy attacks, and run from fights.  Both strength and dexterity max out at 52.

Scattered throughout the countryside are various structures which you can enter such as castles, temples, huts, and churches.  Usually entering one of these buildings will result in being attacked, but occasionally you will find a useful item.  Since theft is a problem even in this enchanted realm, most structures are locked and require a key to open.  You can find keys occasionally after fighting a monster.  Take special caution around castles since they have traps around them, getting caught in a trap will cost you strength and dexterity points.  Also keep an eye out for the flashing castle for it contains a special item you will need to get into the village.

 

As you journey through the countryside you will start to acquire a large cache of items.  These items can be used to increase or decrease your strength and dexterity stats, but using them is a gamble.  The effect an item has is random until you use it for the first time (i.e. if the cross decreased your strength, each subsequent cross will do the same until you reset the game).  The random items are: the cross, ring, potion, charm, and staff, while the set items are: the key, ID scroll, shield, and axe.  The axe will increase your attack power (very useful) and allow you to break down doors (talk about breaking and entering), while the shield can be used to trigger the programmers initials (use it while an axe symbol is on the screen).  

 

To enter the village you will have to get past the bridge guard.  There are three ways to do this: bribe him (this takes 600 gold), give him the ID scroll (found in the countryside), or fight him.  Fighting the bridge guard is almost impossible and not recommended unless you have at least three gain strength items in reserve.  Once you make your way past the guard you will enter the oppressed village.

 

The Oppressed Village

This is your one and only chance to stock up on supplies and hire some help.  There are several shops here such as a magic shop, trade shop, and a hospital.  You can also hire a warrior or two (the little guys marching through town) to help you fight the dragon.  Once your ready, go down to the gate and prepare to enter the dragon's cave!

 

In the Magic Shop you can buy powerful scrolls which will come in use against the dragon.  

Blast
Powerful offensive spell
Flash
Lights up the cave for a brief moment
Protect
Causes enemy attacks to miss
Unlock
Removes magic barriers
Stun
Temporarily stuns enemies
Vision
Allows you to see traps

 

The Trade Shop is your basic item shop, and is full of neat stuff.

Lantern Lights up traps in the cave
Rope Needed to safely enter the dragon's lair
Ruby Used to hire warriors (cheaper than gold)
Chain Same use as rope
Sapphire Used to hire warriors (cheaper than gold)
Longbow Long distance weapon

 

As you may have guessed the hospital is full of healing items.

Medicine Cures poison
Vitamins Restores strength
Elixir Restores Dexterity

 

The Dragon's Cave

This is the final part of your journey.  The dragon's cave is full of nasty traps, so make sure you use a vision scroll to get around them.  Also found in the cave are poison darts which must be avoided or you'll be poisoned, if this happens use the medicine to cure yourself.  Once you find the hole leading to the dragon, you will automatically use the rope or chain to descend.

Fighting the dragon can be a frightening prospect.  Make sure you use the stun spell to stop the dragon from countering, and then hit him with your blast spells.  If the dragon wakes up he'll go after your warriors (assuming you hired any), so attack him from a distance with your longbow until he goes down.   Once the dragon is dead, grab the amulet and you'll win the game.  Now sit back and reflect on your amazing accomplishment, you've beaten one of the hardest games on the 2600.

 

Version Cart Text Description
7/23/82 Excalibur Version 39 A mid level work in progress
9/8/82 Excalibur Version 48  

 

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