AD&D Tower of Mystery

AD&D Tower of Mystery
Company: Mattel
Model #:
Mike Sanders (Program) & Connie Goldman (Graphics)
Year: 1984
Displayed for the first time at CGE 99


"Stuck on top of the Tower of Mystery, you must preserve your strength and protect the treasure as you attempt to escape."  While it's short on details, this 1983 catalog description gives us the run down on Tower of Mystery's basic plot.

If your not a serious Intellivision collector, then you might not know about a little D&D game that was released by INTV called Tower of Doom.  Tower of Doom was part of INTV's attempt to revive the dead Intellivision in the late 80's much like Atari did with the 2600.  While most people thought that Tower of Doom was an original game by INTV, what they didn't know was that they really just finished up an old D&D game called Tower of Mystery, which Mattel had been working on back when they closed their doors in 84.


As you may have guessed by now, the 2600 version of Tower of Mystery is based on the original Intellivision version that became Tower of Doom.  However back when the 2600 port was being developed, the Intellivision version's gameplay was still being defined.  So it's unknown how close to Tower of Doom the finished version of ToM would be.  However according to the Blue Sky Rangers, both versions shared a number of features including a map view for exploration, close-ups for battles, a scrolling line of text that imparted information and commentary from on-screen characters.  These features alone make this one impressive 2600 game.

Tower of Mystery was so complex in fact that it needed a 16K board with 2K of onboard RAM (something almost unheard of at the time).  Of course even with this extra memory the 2600 version had to be watered down slightly, and as a result the game only contained eight different rooms but this was still quite an accomplishment on the 2600.  Tower of Mystery also allowed the player to enter their name, a first for any 2600 game.


Tower of Mystery is an action oriented Dungeons & Dragons game (unlike Treasure of Tarmin which is a pure adventure game) in which the player must successfully make his way to the bottom of the tower and escape.  The game style is very similar to Gateway to Apshai by EPYX, in which the character must move around a screen slicing at a monster with his sword instead of merely pressing the attack button when a monster faces him.  Of course it wouldn't be a D&D game without items and gold to pick up now would it?  So scattered through the dungeons there are various keys, potions, scrolls, and treasure just waiting to be discovered by the player.  Tower of Mystery was starting to sound like every D&D players dream.


So what happened?  About a month before the game was completed, Mattel Electronics closed their doors and all game development was stopped.  What happened to the original code after that is anybodies guess, but somewhere down the line it was lost, and only a small demo that was shown at the 1984 CES show remains.  It's a shame that such a great game was lost, but there's always hope that someone out there may have the original source code sitting on a EPROM or disk tucked away in a box.  Unfortunately, due to copyrights (TSR is now owned by Wizards of the Coast), the rom for Tower of Mystery cannot be released to the public.  This may change in the future (such as was the case with Garfield), but until then these few grainy screenshots will have to suffice.


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