FTL and Software Heaven‘s classic Dungeon Master was available on the Amiga in two different forms. Initially it was only available for Amigas with 1MB of RAM, and wasn’t available for the Amiga 500 (which only had 512kb of RAM) for quite a while, which gave Atari ST owners bragging rights for this amazing game for a few months.
Dungeon Master on the Amiga plays pretty much identical to the original ST version, except that the sound effects are arguably better. And the sound in this game has a huge impact on the atmosphere . The tense and absorbing gameplay has been translated to the Amiga perfectly. Playing Dungeon Master on any platform is a descent into one of the most tense, atmospheric, gripping and challenging games ever made.
Your first steps are tentative, and then you meet the monsters and realise that your strength is weak, so you hit them and run away, or throw things at them. Hitting them enough times raises your fighter level, and throwing things at them will raise your ninja level. You’re crap as a spell-caster at the beginning too, and so practising will raise your wizard level. Savvy players will realise that you can kill monsters by dropping doors on them repeatedly, although you won’t raise your fighter, ninja or wizards levels by doing that.
Eventually, as you get deeper into the dungeon, the monsters become more deadly; the traps more wicked, and the puzzles more complex. The ultimate aim is to reach the very bottom level of the dungeon and beat the dark lord at his own game.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played through this game. Five or six maybe. When it first came out I pretty much dedicated my life to beating it and spent a good couple of weeks sat in the dark on my Atari ST, making my own maps, and fumbling my way through it. Thankfully the game does have a save function so you can pick up where you left off after taking a break for real life.
One thing’s for sure, though: Dungeon Master is definitely up there with the best games ever made, and if you like RPGs and have never played it you should seek it out and join the ranks of those who’ve beaten it. It’s not particularly difficult (like the sequels, Chaos Strikes Back, and Dungeon Master II – both of which are much harder), but is a rite of passage for any RPG fan.
Like the original ST version, the Amiga version has a slight lag on the mouse movement, which can be improved by running the game at a higher clock speed. The MS-DOS version of Dungeon Master doesn’t seem to suffer from this problem, so that’s usually the one I go for if I get the urge to re-play this great game again. Which I do from time to time. The Amiga version does give the authentic Dungeon Master experience, though.
Note: for those descending into the dungeon for the first time the Dungeon Master Encyclopedia is still the best place to go for help with the game. There’s also a forum where the game is still being discussed to this day.