Evercade Game Spotlight: Tower of Doom (Intellivision Collection 2)
In the first of a collection of blogs, we’re launching an Evercade Game Spotlight. A chance to take a deep dive into some of Evercade’s 300+ gaming library and give you everything from fun facts, history, hints and tips and even more advice on how to play. Today’s game under the spotlight is Tower of Doom, part of the Intellivision Collection 2 cartridge for Evercade.
First released in 1988, Tower of Doom was originally intended to be the third entry in a trilogy of games based on a popular tabletop role-playing ruleset. The first two of these games, Cloudy Mountain and Treasures of Tarmin, were released under this branding — but Tower of Doom came too late to be part of the agreement. And thus it became its own thing.
This is kind of interesting, because out of the three Intellivision games based on said classic tabletop system, Tower of Doom is the one which stands out as actually resembling what we know as a role-playing game today. We’ve got stats, we’ve got equipment, we’ve got dungeons, we’ve got monsters. It’s relatively simple, sure — but it actually stands up pretty well alongside today’s dungeon crawlers and roguelikes. You can find out more about the game’s background over at the Blue Sky Rangers’ Intellivision history site.
In Tower of Doom, your job is to get from the top of the titular tower to the bottom, preferably 1) alive and 2) with as much treasure as you can possibly carry. Exactly how difficult this process will be is determined by which of the quests you choose to take on when you start the game, and what kind of character you pick to play as.
Here’s a rundown of what the different quests are:
- Novice: 6 levels with the same layout every time you play. The colours of items always mean the same thing every time you play unless you’re playing as the Waif or Barbarian. This is the easiest quest.
- The Tower: Between 8 and 20 levels with the same layout every time you play. Item colours and effects are fixed as in the Novice quest. This is an easy level adventure for those who have mastered the Novice quest.
- The Catacombs: Between 12 and 32 levels that are randomly generated each time you play. The meaning of the colours that items are shown in is also randomised each time you play, so, for example, a red potion will do something different every time you start a new The Catacombs quest.
- The Fortress: Between 6 and 32 levels that are randomly generated each time you play. Item effects are always randomised as in The Catacombs. A little harder than The Catacombs.
- The Challenge: 14 levels that are randomised each time you play. Item effects are fixed as in the Novice quest. Each level introduces a new monster.
- Wizard Hunt: 32 levels that are randomised each time you play. Item effects are randomised as in The Catacombs. A stiff challenge for experienced adventurers only.
- Grail Quest: 32 levels that are randomised each time you play. Item effects are randomised as in The Catacombs. You cannot complete the Grail Quest until you locate the Grail treasure item! This is the most difficult quest.
And here’s what the different characters are:
- Novice: 3 health, 12 strength, 12 stamina, 12 diplomacy, starts with top-quality axe and spear, two large potions that give huge temporary buffs and a bottle that provides a haste effect.
- Warrior: 2.25 health, 13 strength, 9 stamina, 12 diplomacy, starts with a poor quality small sword and lots of darts, plus two large potions that give huge temporary buffs
- Archer: 3.25 health, 10 strength, 13 stamina, 8 diplomacy, starts with four bows with maximum ammunition and a top-quality dagger
- Knight: 4 health, 11 strength, 11 stamina, 11 diplomacy, starts with 3 top quality spears and a large potion of healing
- Trader: 2 health, 13 strength 6 stamina, 18 diplomacy, starts with a pile of treasure and a cursed ring
- Barbarian: 2.25 health, 12 strength, 9 stamina, 10 diplomacy, starts with a hammer with four shots of ammunition. Item colours are always randomised for the Barbarian.
- Waif: 1.5 health, 6 strength, 6 stamina, 6 diplomacy. Starts with a boot. Item colours are always randomised for the Waif. Hard mode!
- Friar: 3.75 health, 10 strength, 10 stamina, 10 diplomacy. Starts with an average quality mace and a rosary that makes all harmful potions have a positive effect
- Warlord: 5.5 health, 9 strength, 9 stamina, 9 diplomacy. Starts with a pile of decent weapons. Easy mode!
- Warlock: 4.5 health, 9 strength, 9 stamina, 9 diplomacy. Automatically immune to side-effects from wands, starts with three wands, a potion that grants a haste effect and two potions that reveal hidden items.
Exploring the Tower of Doom is straightforward. Move around with the D-pad and the map will be gradually revealed. Walk into an enemy to fight them, or walk over an item to pick it up, assuming there’s space in your pack. Check out the manual for Intellivision Collection 2 to read a full breakdown of what all the controls do.
Your basic goal in Tower of Doom is simple survival, but once you get to grips with the game you can start taking aim for higher scores. Key to this is how you handle the treasure items in the dungeon: picking them up and using them immediately “cashes” them, which gives you both Treasure Score and experience, but if you hold on to them, you’ll gain Treasure Score for them when you descend to the next level of the dungeon — and this happens every time you go down a level with that treasure in your pack!
In this way, if you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of space in your pack, you can really rack up the Treasure Score by lugging around as many shiny goodies as you can for as long as possible. Consider the value of the treasures you’re holding, though; if you find a treasure that is worth more than one you’re currently carrying, it’s worth cashing in a less valuable one to carry the more valuable one with you.
Trouble is, in all but the Novice, The Tower and The Challenge quests, you don’t immediately know the value of the items you’re carrying, because the meaning of the items’ colours are randomised! That means you’ll need to do some research for yourself — try cashing in some treasures and seeing how they affect your Treasure Score and experience, and see what effects differently coloured items have when you use them!
This is much easier in those Novice, The Tower and The Challenge quests, because the colours always mean the same things. So to give you a helping hand, here’s what the “fixed” colours mean in those quests:
- Least valuable treasures
- Weapons with very low durability
- Projectile weapons with very low ammunition
- Book increases strength by 1
- Cloak has an unknown effect, but says “that helped”
- Grail resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and increases strength by 7
- Small scroll summons a powerful enemy
- Large scroll immediately summons an enemy
- Mortar and Pestle gains some health
- Small potion gains some health
- Large potion regains full health
- Ring increases your rate of healing
- Rosary resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and makes all harmful potions have a positive effect, plus awards more experience for treasures
- Second least valuable treasures
- Weapons with low durability
- Projectiles with low ammunition
- Magical items are usually negative in effect
- Book curses you so you can’t see enemies coming
- Cloak makes you feel weak, but the exact effect is unknown
- Grail restores your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and gives you a huge boost in max health and stamina, and gives you permanent haste
- Small scroll curses you so you can’t see enemies coming
- Large scroll damages you
- Mortar and Pestle slows you to half speed
- Small potion slows you to half speed
- Large potion causes you to lose health
- Ring weakens you in a non-specific way
- Rosary causes “a dark cloud to hang over you”, but the exact effect is unknown
- Treasures of fairly low value
- Weapons with moderately low durability
- Projectiles with moderately low ammunition
- Book increases your stamina by 1
- Cloak gives you a defensive boost
- Grail resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and increases your diplomacy score, but says it adds strength
- Small scroll slows enemies in the room to half speed
- Large scroll removes any curses on you
- Mortar and Pestle causes you to “make a friend”, but the effect is unclear
- Small potion makes you immune to fire
- Large potion makes you a “tough guy”
- Ring increases your defensive power
- Rosary resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and increases your rate of healing
- Treasures of moderate value
- Weapons with moderate durability
- Projectiles with moderate ammunition
- Book causes you to lose an experience level
- Cloak gives you a defensive boost
- Grail resets Life Force (hunger) to 255 and claims to increase stamina, but actually doesn’t
- Small scroll freezes the monster in the room
- Large scroll teleports you somewhere else
- Mortar and Pestle causes you to become invisible on the screen
- Small potion applies a haste effect
- Large potion causes you to become invisible on the screen
- Ring makes you permanently immune to fire
- Rosary resets Life Force (hunger) to 255 and makes you immune to traps and the backlash from the Holy Hand Grenade
- Treasures of moderately good value
- Weapons with moderately good durability
- Projectiles with moderately good ammunition
- Book increases your diplomacy score
- Cloak gives you a strong defensive boost
- Grail resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and increases your diplomacy score
- Small scroll causes you to “make a friend”, but the effect is unclear
- Large scroll increases your stamina score
- Mortar and Pestle causes you to lose maximum health and stamina
- Small potion temporarily blinds you, meaning you can’t see walls or the map for 15-30 seconds
- Large potion paralyses you for a longer period than a paralysis trap
- Ring does something non-specifically useful
- Rosary resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and makes you permanently immune to all traps
- Treasures of good value
- Weapons with good durability
- Projectiles with a good amount of ammunition
- Book curses you, but the effect is unclear
- Cloak gives you a defensive boost
- Grail resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and has an unknown additional effect
- Small scroll doubles the speed of a monster in the room
- Large scroll says “that helped”, but the effect is unclear
- Mortar and Pestle immediately summons an enemy
- Small potion allows you to immediately see all items when entering a new area
- Large potion confuses you temporarily
- Ring increases your attack power
- Rosary resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and means you will never starve to death
- Treasures of very good value
- Weapons with very good durability
- Projectiles with a very good amount of ammunition
- Book doubles your current experience
- Cloak gives you a powerful defensive boost
- Grail resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and proclaims “glory in battle” with an unclear effect
- Small scroll removes all traps in the current level
- Large scroll removes all traps in the current level
- Mortar and Pestle reduces your strength score by 1
- Small potion “tastes like spinach”, possibly increasing strength
- Large potion increases diplomacy score
- Ring increases your defensive power
- Rosary resets your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and tells you to “read a book” with an unclear effect
- Treasures of the highest value
- Weapons with maximum durability
- Projectiles with maximum ammunition
- Magic items are very powerful, both good and bad!
- Book halves your experience
- Cloak makes you permanently immune to confusion traps with “good karma”
- Grail causes you to immediately win if you use it on level 32 of the Grail Quest
- Small scroll removes curses on you
- Large scroll removes curses on you
- Mortar and Pestle drains your diplomacy score by 2
- Small potion boosts your health and attack power beyond their usual maximums
- Large potion boosts health and attack power even further beyond usual maximums
- Ring makes you immune to backlash and side-effects from wands
- Rosary restores your Life Force (hunger) to 255 and says “make a friend” with an unclear effect
Here’s a handy tip for you in the quests where the colours are randomised: the colours still apply in these “sets” above. So if you learn, say, that a projectile weapon with maximum ammunition is now orange instead of magenta, you know that an orange scroll will remove curses on you, orange large potions will boost your health and attack power beyond their usual maximums, and so on.
Moreover, the colour sets are simply rotated around this list rather than completely randomised — so if you know magenta has become orange, you also know that grey has become green-brown, cyan has become pink, orange has become lavender, and so on!
Sound complex? Don’t worry about it. If you find a tempting looking potion in the dungeon, just chug it down regardless — what’s the worst that could happen?
Now you’re ready to take on the challenge of the Tower of Doom — what’s your best Treasure Score?
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