Dungeons of Fear – Welcome to the dungeon, we’ve got fun and games…

Mar24b All right, all right, I know… it’s “Welcome to the jungle” … but I’m speaking of the dungeon.  The DUNGEON OF FEAR!  I mean DUNGEONS OF FEAR!  As in many dungeons, as in plural.  Dungeons of Fear is a text based game, and a website, by Brian Sauer.  Teh greatest website EVAR!  Okay, so I exaggerate.  I went to this guy’s page, and saw all these games he had on there, and that impressed me.  Am I’m not easily impressed… (Tin foil? ooooh shiny!) – wait wait, I said I’m not easily impressed, and said nothing about not being easily distracted.  “Ooh string!”  If one looks at the website, one doesn’t think much of it.  When one looks at the games on the website, one doesn’t think much of it.  However, the one thing that’s really hard for aspiring game developers is to finish games. 

That’s right, we always start hundreds of ‘em, but do we ever finish them… nooouuuuuuuu….  It’s too much work.  ‘Sides it’s tons more fun thinking and planning stuff than actually doing stuff, but I digress.  Okay to be serious for a moment.  When I was looking at these games I thought, great, I can make a bunch of separate reviews on each of his games.  But once I played the first one, let’s just say it was a little more rough around the edges than I was expecting.  So I’m looking and realizing, gosh this guy has made like sixteen completed games.  (Well you can always be unsatisfied with your work, but he put all he was going to into these, and decided they were finished.)  I mean after all that’s really all you need.  If you want to play a one player, no ai pong games.  You need a ball a paddle and maybe a score for a win condition.  And. That’s. It.  Seems all too easy doesn’t it?  Of course game developers make it look easy. 

You’ll never know how long it took to get the laser to fire just that many times before overheating, or tweaking when that enemy will jump out at you.  I, on the other hand, know a bit about these things.  I’ve completed 3 games.  That’s right THUH_REE.  And this guy has done like sixteen.  Wah-huh?!?  Okay granted these aren’t the best in the world.  But that’s ok, each release sees some sort of improvement.  Soon he may be someone to be reckoned with, or just someone you wanna know.  So instead of reviewing each one separately I will review each of them in one post.  That’s right 16 games in one post.  “But”, I hear you cry, “You could like totally milk it and like pawn off trashy reviews of low rent games on us and we’d be totally cool with it.”  Alas, I’ve made up my mind.  Really I want you guys to check out his site.  It may not be much to look at, but with some encouragement I think he could make some really cool games.  So now without further ado, here are the games.  Okay so I’m assuming these games are on his website in reverse chronological order, that is the newest games are at the top, so we will start at the bottom.


First up, Star Wars: Crossfire.  Yep, Star Wars, who doesn’t love star wars?  I mean how cool is the Millennium Falcon?  Anyway this features fast two way (up and down) ascii action.  You’re  an x-wing on the left side of the screen, designated by an “X”, and on the right are “ships” returning home from battle.  There are three other ships the Falcon designated by a “0” that is zero, a Y-wing designated by, you guessed it, a “Y”, and a Tie Fighter that looks like an “H” heck it is an “H”.  You must get a high score by shooting the ties but not the Falcon or Y-Wings, you lose points if you hit the Falcon or a Y.  A timer counts down.  Once the time is up game is over, you either won points or lost them.  That’s it.  There’s a main menu, a game, and instructions screen.  All in glorious alpha-numerics.  The controls are a little sticky as you can only move one whole character position at a time.  And it’s hard to hit anything, but hey it’s a game, it’s finished, AND it has music.  Yep, out of all the non advanced stuff this game has, it has music.  Good ol’ Star Wars music, as if you were there!


Our next one is Shooter.  Woo! Graphics! Yeah baby, programmer art.  Okay this next one is even harder than the first.  You have to fly side to side, and shoot stars coming down.  Using the arrow keys, and space to fire.  This one has some graphics as mentioned, and even sound, just no music to speak of.  There are no menus on this game, sorry.  The object is to shoot stars.  You miss 4 stars, game over.  You shoot and miss, you lose points, and if you shoot an hit, you win points.  This is actually more addicting than crossfire, because I can actually play it.  Yeah! 


Okay next is Tanks.  Remember Tank for the Atari 2600?  Well this isn’t it.  This one doesn’t have any sound, or a menu, and it’s actually a two player by way of the number keys.  It’s sort of hard to play by yourself.  The graphics are simply two blocks.  I give this a thumbs down.  Okay so I’m not rating, so I will say pass this up.  Too hard to maneuver using numbers.  At least it has full screen. 


Okay now on to Fighter.  Fighter is, you guessed it, a fighting game.  Okay so you’re goal is to like kill some robots.  For what reason, I don’t know.  And you get character stats that you increase on each level.  Also there’s a building with a giant eye shooting red thingies at you, only they’re not coming from his eye, they’re coming from somewhere above him.  I have to hand it to him, this is the most complex one, both visually and game-play wise.  You can move left or right, you can also move up and down the “street” but the robots seem to match your move, so it like doesn’t matter so long as you move left or right.  You use “N” to use your sword.  It only has one move, slash, down.  You can dispatch foes easily enough though by constantly hitting the sword button.  There’s also the “M” magic button, where you hit it and everything stops for a few seconds.  Good for getting out of tight spots.  The sounds sound like they’re made from voice, and it sounds sort of cute I guess.  Overall this is the best one so far. 


Our next game is Danger Mountain, where you try to get the gold by dodging falling rocks and flying darts.  I have to say though, this one’s a pain in the butt.  I couldn’t get any gold.  The rocks fell down in random positions, and I couldn’t move left or right fast enough.  The only thing I could do was keep ducking so the darts wouldn’t hit me.  The graphics are actually worse than fighter too.  So I didn’t really care for it.  Notice the ones I don’t care for much are the ones I can’t really play.


Next we have Super Kick Return.  This is sort of a football (American football to all you Non-American’s reading this) based game.  You have to move up the screen and make a touch down using the arrow keys, making sure you don’t run into any Defenders.  There are Boost items which move you up a ways forward.  This is all done in text, and is actually pretty hard.  I wasn’t able to get one touch down.  There was no menu or sound, and of course no graphics to speak of. 


So now we’re on to Tovaria, an rpg.  This seemed interesting and a bit more complex.  You need to get the Wand of Tovaria, by fighting a vicious ogre and opening a box, so you can kill all enemies.  However, you can only do that once you’ve gained enough experience points.  The game board is represented by colored squares.  At least he could have added icons if not any actual art.  So it was hard to see what I was doing.  Then I get attacked by a blue square, which happens to be a wolf.  And it just dumped me back out to windows.  I’m assuming it’s because I died, but it doesn’t tell you that, either that or it just crashed.  I’m sorry to say Tovaria, while promising needs a lot of work to be playable. 


Now on to Super Pong.  Super Pong is a mediocre pong clone at best, however so far it’s the closest thing to a real game (next to fighter) that I’ve seen.  You can change various aspects in the options, such as background music, and image, ball size, speed, etc.  There is a menu to this, and there is some graphics.  I don’t know what decides who wins, for all I know you could play it forever.  In any case it’s an example of a real game.  It does seem like the games are improving a bit each time, but it would be nice if they could improve more.


Our next game is called Slippery Slope.  It’s more interesting than the others.  The object is drop a ball onto a moving rectangle.  The speed varies randomly.  You simply use your mouse and drop the ball.  You can only drop it from a minimum of half-way down the screen, or a maximum of the top of the screen.  It’s interesting because you have to judge how fast it will drop given the distance, and speed of the rectangle.  No real graphics to speak of, but adequate.  You can get back to the main menu by hitting the Escape key. 


Next we have Error 63 a text-based first person shooter.  Or so it says.  I literally couldn’t play it when messing with the options.  It would just say player 2 won.  Then when I started it just by itself you see two pieces of stats one for each player.  But nothing visual.  I couldn’t play that if I tried. 


So now we’re on to Gladiator.  Gladiator so far is the best game of the bunch.  And guess what, it is actual text mode.  Where the others were text in graphics mode.  This was text in actual text mode.  Supposedly made in QBasic, Gladiator has you train and fight.  Essentially you have gold and food.  When you train, it will ask you 10 times whether to attack or defend.  Based on training you get stat points to add to attack, defense, and speed.  Then when you fight, you’re presented with your enemy’s stats, and then asked if you still want to fight.  When you fight, it does it automatically each time you hit enter.  Based on your stats you win or lose.  If you win you get gold.  It’s pretty simple in execution, but it is actually one of the few I’ve found actually fun so far. 


Well let’s go on to the next game, which is called, Word Games!  There are 4 games in word games, hangman, which you only have six guesses, anagrams, where you unscramble the letters, and also only get six guesses, Jotto, guess the word witht he same amount of letters as the mystery word, and Ditloids, which the computer gives you clue and initials and you must solve it by entering the two words.  This had some graphics actually.  And the word games were interesting.  However there was the annoying habit of not being able to exit back to windows whenever I wanted.  I had to CTRL-ALT-DEL until it was able to close it for me.  You can exit from the main menu, but once you’re in a game, you can’t.


So I guess we move onto “Calculus: The Game”.  This is more advanced than any of the other games thus far.  It’s more of an edutainment title.  The object is to get through your school.  Along the way you have to answer calculus questions, and you get to talk to famous people to get help.  You basically use your mouse and keyboard.  Move through by moving your mouse until the cursor changes to an arrow, then click.  When you answer your calc questions, you need to use the keyboard.  Not bad, this game has both music and graphics.  Not bad I’d say. 


So now we’re on to Laser fight.  This is pretty impressive (for the author) from the standpoint of making an action game.  You basically fire at your opponent.  No sound, music or menus, but it does have scrolling background graphics.  Use space to fire, and arrow keys to move/jump.  Jumping is pretty slow.  But it seems like the developer’s skills are coming along.


Now lets go to Super Kick Return 2.  While it still has more graphics than the first one, they’re still mostly letters.  There’s a football icon.  Also you can move your blockers.  There’s also music in the background.  I also couldn’t play this one, I never got a touch down.


In any case this finally brings us to Dungeons of Fear the game.  I’m not as impressed with DOF as some of the other games.  Not because it lacks graphics.  It is an all text game.  But because it seems you can only go in two directions.  Each time I picked the same direction I ended up in the same way.  When I started travelling east I died each time.  So travelling west all the time eventually landed me in a trap.  The game might be ok, but I think the author should actually work on it a bit.  Make it more free-roaming.  Try to give more choices to the player. 


Well I guess that ends the review of Brian Sauer’s Dungeons of Fear games.  Sorry this was so long.  But I need to put all the games in one article, since there’s not much to most of them.  And you would feel cheated If I had wasted a review on one of the games.  I think though, if you give him some more time, you might find he will actually improve.  Finished games are important, more important than impressive unfinished games.  This is what impressed me the most.

Final Analysis: The games aren’t all that impressive, a couple are fun, such as fighter and gladiator, and a few are impressive, such as Calculus the game.  However, Brian Sauer has managed to finish 16 games since around 2005, which is most impressive from beginning and amateur game developers.  Now if he could only improve himself in various areas, such as graphics, and interactivity, I think he’ll be someone to watch out for.

Name: Dungeons of Fear (The game, but also the website where all the other games are located).

Price: Free (so far.)

Where to get them: At the Dungeons of Fear website.

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