Best Games - Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Treasure of Tarmin
The Intellivision video game console started development in 1977. The state of consumer processors in 1977 wasn’t really geared toward high fidelity gaming experiences. A lot of arcade machines of the time were still black and white and the most common video game that the public was familiar with was Pong. Pong isn’t a bad game, but no one would describe it as deep or dynamic.
The core of the machine was a CP1610. This was an update to a processor that was already close to a decade old at that point. CPUs in the ‘70s didn’t advance at the pace that they do now, but this wasn’t exactly state of the art hardware.
The good thing about any computer hardware is that it is always more capable than it seems at first glance. Given enough time and energy, people will come up with all sorts of interesting ways to use a processor or pool of memory. Things that seem impossible become common. Operations that used to take seconds are refined to the point that they happen before a CRT screen can draw the next frame.
There are limits, of course. You can‘t run Doom on an Intellivision. Still, the games released in the early ‘80s bear very little resemblance to the games released at launch. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Treasure of Tarmin seems like it shouldn’t even exist on the same platform. It’s astounding.
Treasures of Tarmin is the second AD&D game for the Intellivision. The first is a fairly basic, but fun, roguelike. Now I can’t be sure if it takes any inspiration from Rogue, or if both games are simply dipping into the same Dungeons and Dragons well. Either could be true. In any case, Treasure of Tarmin does a much better job with the material. Both were made by the same single developer, Tom Loughry.
Treasures of Tarmin is a sprawling, first person, adventure game where you will have to explore dungeons, battle a legion of different monsters, collect and manage a fairly intricate yet intuitive inventory, and level up your weapons and items. It defies belief that this one guy was able to pack that much into a cartridge that couldn’t fit a JPEG. And a pretty small one at that.
I could attempt to describe the game, but you already know what it is. Imagine wandering around a meandering dungeon, picking up items and using them to smite skeletons, goblins, and the like. You know, D&D stuff.
It would be a few years before a game like Legend of Zelda would come along to advance console adventure gaming. For the most part, I imagine that developers simply didn’t think that it was possible. To create a wide ranging, dynamic adventure you needed the memory, processing, and storage space of a full blown personal computer. And they wouldn’t be wrong. There are very few outliers like Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Treasure of Tarmin. It’s surprisingly deep and fully featured.
This was an early 80s game made on late 70s hardware, and it can still manage to surprise all these decades later.
AD&D Treasure of Tarmin is one of the best games.