Once I started playing Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, I voraciously consumed anything related to the game. One of my “holy grail” items was a copy of Mattel’s Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game and one Christmas there it was under the tree. I was ecstatic and spent the entire winter break playing it. There is even some vague recollection of me playing it alone at the kitchen table. While my family was celebrating new years even in the living room.
Why was I obsessed with this game? Well, besides the print ads for the game, there was this magnificent commercial. They stopped running it before I got my copy, but how could you forget an ad like this?
In the game, a player moves on an electronic board trying to find the treasure and bring it back to a room. Along the way you will encounter walls, other players (in 2 player mode) and of course the dragon. The game was pretty easy to jump into, but I remember it took me a while to really master it. My big issue was the dragon. You just could never tell where it was going to be and in 3 hits, it could slay you. Yes, they did include an incredible dragon figure, but that was only to approximate where it was and more than not, I was way off.
While the game board and figures were beautiful, it was really the sounds that made up this game. As you moved around the board, the pressure you place on the square you landed on would trigger a sound. In a quiet room, you could actually sense the building tension from these simple sounds as you grew closer and closer to the dragon. This tension is something I rarely get in modern video games, outside of jump scares in horror games. It is a very memorable use of simple technology.
My copy of the game died in the late 80’s. At the time, I wasn’t playing it much, so it moved to the back of the closet and eventually into the basement. At some point my sister threw it in the trash. Not a huge loss, even if now it makes me sad. One bright spot, she only through the game board out. So my figures survived. That amazing dragon? It is still in my possession and has been used in several pen and paper gaming sessions over the years. The Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game is the game that just keeps on giving.