The Game: Abandon hope, all ye who enter the Tower of Doom. Armed and armored, adventurers enter seeking treasure, mystery and glory…but all that stands between them and those goals are dragons, monsters, bizarre traps that twist space and time, and, of course, twisty little passages (there are always twisty little passages). When a battle is lost in the catacombs, the player returns to his starting point for another attempt to plumb the depths, but eventually every player will run out of opportunities…or will have to grow powerful enough to conquer most of the Tower’s denizens. (INTV Inc., 1986)
Memories: Originally conceived as another entry in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons video game franchise, Tower Of Doom seems terribly familiar to anyone who played Mattel’s original AD&D cartridge: the overhead maze crawl and the close-up battles go back to the original game’s basics, rather than trying to further develop Treasure Of Tarmin‘s first-person perspective and interface, which was considered a step forward for graphics but not for game play.
Tower Of Doom actually did start its development life as an AD&D game, but something happened between those beginnings and the game’s eventual release: the crash of the video game industry. When the crash hit home, Mattel Electronics was one of the costliest victims, losing hundreds of millions of dollars and laying off its entire staff. The former marketing manager for Mattel’s Intellivision line eventually brought much of that staff back together, either full-time or as freelancers, under the new umbrella of “INTV, Inc.”, which would offer new Intellivision games (and even “vintage” hardware and software that had been languishing in warehouses) via mail order. Tower Of Doom was among the very first INTV releases, but since INTV operated on a much smaller budget when compared to the massive Mattel Electronics, the AD&D affiliation was the first thing to go.
As far as Tower‘s return to the basics of electronic AD&D go: it makes the game more playable than Treasure Of Tarmin by many orders of magnitude. The interface between the game and the player is once again straightforward and intuitive, and if anything, the close-up battles are more thrilling than even the original AD&D cartridge. The unexpectedly long development cycle had also provided the game’s designers with opportunities to rethink the look of the game, giving it a unique look even among Intellivision titles.
Intellivision had risen from the ashes to redefine console adventure gaming, and Tower Of Doom should rightly be regarded as a great evolutionary step forward in that genre…but it would soon be eclipsed in the eyes of most gamers by another console adventure game by none other than legendary Nintendo gamesmith Shigeru Miyamoto.