The Game: A party of up to four adventurers descends into the depths of a dungeon to recover their kidnapped king and find his magical orb. Along the way, the band of intrepid adventurers will have to fight off everything from packs of wild dogs to evil creatures determined to bring the quest to an early end. (Texas Instruments, 1982)
Memories: I remember seeing this game at a friend’s house right after it came out, and feeling the whole world changing around me. Up until now, I’d been playing the same games on computers that I’d been playing on my consoles, except they looked and sometimes even sounded better. But Tunnels Of Doom, with its obvious nods to Dungeons & Dragons, was a whole dfferent animal. Here was a game that the consoles couldn’t handle. Here was a real live Computer Game.
Part of what got me hooked was that music. Tunnels opens up with a great piece of theme music that just fits this kind of game perfectly. Actually, for its day and age, it’s quite a sopihisticated piece of music for a “mere” computer game.
I remember, not quite comprehending that this was a TI-exclusive title, pestering my mom endlessly about getting me Tunnels Of Doom; we were an Apple II household, so what I got was Telengard. Now, while that ain’t too shabby, it’s no Tunnels Of Doom. Fortunately for my mother, Ultima III was just around the corner. If you think about it, Tunnels beat the Ultima series to the kind of group dynamic that would become a hallmark of that series, and in a pitched battle, Tunnels strongly resembles Ultima IV – it’s truly ahead of its time.
One of my main reasons for getting a TI 99/4a – a computer I’d never owned before – was to play Tunnels Of Doom again. I’ve found quite a few other neat games for this computer along the way, but in the end, it’s all about the Doom. It’s one of the best computer RPGs of the 1980s, hands-down, and I’m not sure it’s ever quite gotten its due as one of the seminal titles of the genre.