Lord of the Dungeon - Unreleased Battery Backed Wizardry Type Game for the ColecoVision from 1984

Bill Loguidice's picture

"Lord of the Dungeon" was released in limited quantities as a homebrew back in 2000 from the 1984 unreleased original prototype for the ColecoVision from Probe 2000, which would have been the first ever battery backed cartridge. These are rare, rare images since so few people have it and it's unsupported by any emulator. You can see it would have been a phenomenal Wizardry-like RPG for a console well before anything like it on the NES!

http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeon.jpg
http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeonsc1.jpg
http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeonsc2.jpg
http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeonsc3.jpg
http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeonsc4.jpg
http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeonsc5.jpg
http://evg2000.com/graphics/colecovision/software/lorddungeonsc6.jpg

The only graphics are apparently the wireframe dungeons, the characters and some detailed monster pics when there's an encounter--very much in the classic CRPG style. Thanks to Charles at www.evg2000.com for making these available!

There are rumors that we may be seeing a re-release of this very special cartridge at some point. I'll be the first in line!

By the way, Probe 2000 was the Magnavox/Philips offshoot team from the Odyssey2, intended, like Atari, Coleco and Mattel to produce games for competing systems. All that Probe 2000 ever released was the excellent "War Room", a favorite cartridge of mine for the Coleco. They also planned "Power Lords" based off of the toys and the aforementioned "Lord of the Dungeon" (apparently this was also delayed because of issues with the battery backup - supposedly there was some type of occasional corruption; tricky tech indeed). Supposedly chip shortages and of course the crash dashed any future for the company, sadly.

Here is the old Digital Press review of the original rerelease, with what I assume has a collage of monster images from the game: http://www.digitpress.com/reviews/lordofdungeon_2.htm

Comments

Calibrator
Offline
Joined: 10/25/2006
Great find!

And programmer Rexford "Rex" Battenberg is one unlucky guy - with several innovative games not getting published at their time:
http://www.dieterkoenig.at/ccc/po/s_po_rexbattenberge.htm

take care,
Calibrator

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Thanks for the interview link
Calibrator wrote:

And programmer Rexford "Rex" Battenberg is one unlucky guy - with several innovative games not getting published at their time:
http://www.dieterkoenig.at/ccc/po/s_po_rexbattenberge.htm

take care,
Calibrator

He was indeed an unlucky programming genius. Despite his somewhat spotty recollection, that interview is important for confirming two things, one, that the game is in fact complete, and two, that one of the issues outside of the Crash was occasional corruption of the save game state. I would assume that was resolved using modern technology in the 2000 homebrew release, but who knows about that as it seems few, if any, owners of that release have actually played it for any significant amount of time.

I truly hope that a new release of the game will be forthcoming as I really want to play the thing. It is a shame though that there's apparently no known manual/instructions for the thing, and I'm not sure the author would be terribly helpful in that regard considering the interview. Despite others' struggles with trying to play without instructions (http://www.digitpress.com/reviews/lordofdungeon_2.htm), I'm sure if a concerted effort were made it can be figured out completely (perhaps even disassembled if it hasn't been already).

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
Does this guy know who he is???

Reading the linked article (thanks, Calibrator!), it occurs to me that this "Rex Battenberg" guy is something different than the usual "founding father" videogame persona.

In the normal "historical" videogame programmer interview, the game creator(s) come across as "auteurs," fully aware of their contributions to the art of videogames, and often seem flattered that others recogize this fact.

The problem with Mr. Battenberg is that he comes across as completely oblivious to his historical significance in the scheme of videogames. Unlike the "auteurs" who seem flattered by the retro-attention (and I'm not putting them down, they highly deserve the retro-accolades!), Mr. Battenberg seems to think he was just doing a job, not realizing the contribution he made to the art of videogames, and as a consequence, our LIVES!

When asked about "Space Dungeon" (which I believe is a more approachable, and possibly superior, variation of "Robotron"), he goes off on life at "Taito." He really doesn't talk much about his creations, almost as if "Lord of the Dungeons" was an afterthought.

He seems more thrilled that his job (at the time) allowed him to go to Austria than the fact that he was one of the guys that laid the foundation of the videogame industry which we are all beneficiaries!
I can relate, but please!

Oddly, I once lived less than an hour away from this guy and didn't even know it. If I met him, I'd be wearing a full "Batman - Dark Knight" costume, grab him by the neck in a dark alley, and say "recognize your significance."

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
I've come across several

I've come across several famous developers who share that "I was just doing a job" view. I'm not sure where it comes from either. It's really a pain when you're trying to research a game and the developer, for whatever reason, refuses to talk about it. I have to say, the developer ought to talk anyway, perhaps ESPECIALLY if it's a painful experience, since it's not just a personal thing but for the sake of history.

I don't want to name any names here, but it seems to be the norm for legacy developers to either refuse to talk or have very little to say about their experience.

n/a
Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
It is a matter of perspective

I believe the readers of this forum cherish the video game culture more than most and in some cases even more than some of the developers themselves. Well hey you just can't force them to love their old work/jobs. Not everything is as important for each individual. Go figure what the commercial industry must think about games that are no longer economically interesting.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc. | www.markvergeer.nl

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Discussion
Mark Vergeer wrote:

I believe the readers of this forum cherish the video game culture more than most and in some cases even more than some of the developers themselves. Well hey you just can't force them to love their old work/jobs. Not everything is as important for each individual. Go figure what the commercial industry must think about games that are no longer economically interesting.

That's true. Sometimes work is just work and it has no emotional meaning. I know my day job is thankless, but it pays the bills. I could have produced something cool in the 14+ years of my professional life, but I'm not sure if it would have resonated with me like this book thing, which I'm not really making money at but is something that I take pride in. In other words, I can go on and on about the book, but don't have much interest in talking about my career.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
That's definitely true of

That's definitely true of all work. I am fond of the old saying, "Nobody pays you do what you want to do--only what nobody better is willing to do for less." That saying has always seemed true to me, and I'm always surprised at how even people with "dream jobs" talk about how much they hate it, or at least how large chunks of it aren't satisfying. Take what I do, for instance. Sure it's fun to teach a good group of students, etc., but my "real job" is tediously grading papers, dealing with apathetic or even rebellious students, serving on committees and enduring boring meetings, dealing with drama, etc. However, I have to be thankful for those parts of the job, because they are the reason I was hired. If the job was pure bliss, the pay would suck in proportion to how many better people were willing to do it for less.

I can think of countless other examples. Take lawyers, for instance--they have to deal with the "scum of the earth" on a daily basis. Doctors--do I have to go into detail about the unpleasant things they encounter, or legal threats? Movie stars--constant ego dramas, lack of job security, public scrutiny...Work is work.

n/a
Calibrator
Offline
Joined: 10/25/2006
Renaissance Men

I deliberately kept my private interests separate from my work - and vice versa.
I've seen too many people losing what they really like because it became routine and they try to get away from it in the evening. Programmers that didn't even had PCs at home, for example.

About the people don't accepting the influence they asserted on the advancement of games, graphics techniques etc.: For some it may have been simply a job, others may judge it now as non-serious, even "childish" endeavours that they try to forget ("I was young and needed the money!") and others may be too humble to accept that they are not only respected but are regarded as crafty, very successful, sometimes even genial pioneers. That they gained a tiny piece of immortality. "Heroes" may be too strong a word, but you get the idea.

I usually don't feel envy, especially not about material things. But it strikes me that some guys don't even know what luck they had being in the right place in the right time with the right amount of talent, diligence and inspiration to create the groundwork for everything we know today and games that *still* make lots of fun. In my opinion this is somewhat comparable to the accomplishments of people like classical painters, inventors and writers. In other words: "Star Raiders", for example, is of the same calibre as the "Mona Lisa".

Of course we also have brilliant people today but it is nearly impossible to create an innovative design *and* implement it single-handedly with outstanding use of the given resources. Back then when everything was still in its infancy it was not only possible but also necessary for exceptional indivuals to emerge.

take care,
Calibrator

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
The Hive Mind analog
Calibrator wrote:

Of course we also have brilliant people today but it is nearly impossible to create an innovative design *and* implement it single-handedly with outstanding use of the given resources. Back then when everything was still in its infancy it was not only possible but also necessary for exceptional indivuals to emerge.

take care,
Calibrator

Indeed, it makes you wonder if the whole "collective mind" thing, as best exemplified by the Internet, does not mean that the game has changed, where it's not just a handful of geniuses, but a collection of geniuses that will get us to the next milestones. It's almost a form of evolution, where before you had one, now you have many. It's a powerful thing, even if the occasional single genius gets potentially diluted.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Calibrator
Offline
Joined: 10/25/2006
Collectives
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Indeed, it makes you wonder if the whole "collective mind" thing, as best exemplified by the Internet, does not mean that the game has changed, where it's not just a handful of geniuses, but a collection of geniuses that will get us to the next milestones. It's almost a form of evolution, where before you had one, now you have many. It's a powerful thing, even if the occasional single genius gets potentially diluted.

Absolutely!
Example: There are lots of people producing incredible fan missions for the old Thief-games (Thief 1 and 2 - ten year old games, by the way...). Though many are individuals and are able to put the given resources of the original games to good use it is the norm today that custom textures and 3D models supplied by other users (which get credited in the readme-file, of course) are used.
Lots of missions feature voice work by people that appear regularly(!) etc. - a "collective" is a much better word than "team" for such efforts!

If you guys want to create an Armchair Arcade game someday you probably will also build on the foundations of others, deliberately choosing what you need and discarding what you don't. Perhaps you are two or three people actively building something but you'll tap a much larger pool...

(In fact others had this idea years earlier and created the "Sensible Erection RPG" - based on the regular members of the naughty website sensibleerection.com. Uptight people are advised to ignore the game and the site! ;-)

take care,
Calibrator

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.