Kirk Plays: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin – Part 2

You didn’t think I would give up on epic treasure that easily did you?  Before we try again, let’s take a step back and have a little history lesson.  The console that I am enjoying this D&D adventure is the Intellivision.  For those of you reading who aren’t as old as I am, the Intellivision was fucking awesome.  It was a competitor to the Atari 2600 and was technologically superior in every way with the possible exception of that cool gradient effect that the Atari could do.  Those special effects looked rad in the 70s.  Intellivision could show 16 colors at the same time, which I don’t believe the Atari was capable of, but feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

In terms of hardware, the Intellivision sported a 16-bit processor way before it was a badge of marketing honor.  The thing ran at a blazing 894,886 Hz.  Yes I just told you the CPU speed in Hz with no modifier.  The computer I’m typing this on has 4 cores that run at 4,200,000,000 Hz each.  GHz means billions.  Processors are also much smarter now and accomplish much more per clock cycle than they did back then.  It actually took the Intellivision about 15 minutes to multiply two numbers.

RAM was also laughably miniscule.  Total ram clocked in at 1,456 bytes.  This computer has 2^34 bytes of RAM (16 GB).  Or to expand, 17,179,869,184 Bytes.  Yup, don’t worry about it.  It’s true.  Of those 1,456 bytes, 240 are available to the game for keeping track of things.  240 bytes.  It boggles the mind how those old timey programmers got anything to work.


The Intellivision had a bizarre phone like controller that was designed to cause severe hand pain.  The engineers also limited the data that can be pushed from the controller so you couldn’t move the disc and push the front buttons at the same time.  The side buttons behave slightly better but will blister the shit out of your thumb.

Each game came with two overlays for the controllers.  You inserted these to have the game make any sense at all.  They of course got destroyed and lost within a week of purchasing a game.  Many games just had a cool image on them, but ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CARTRIDGE had a function for every button.  Let’s take a look:



’1′ will swap your main hand’s item with whatever is on the ground, or add treasure type items to your score.

’2′ swaps left and right hands.  Shields take effect simply by having them in your left hand.  Any other item in the left hand is just an inventory spot.

’3′ rotates items in the pack, because ’6′ will swap the right hand with a particular slot in the pack.  It’s an awkward interface but after playing the game for 30 years or so you get used to it.

’4′ opens doors or treasure chests.  Some chests/boxes require a key in the right hand to open.

’5′ will use items in your right hand.  If the item doesn’t have a use the game will produce the harshest failure noise you could possibly imagine.

’7′ will use the right hand item as a weapon.

’8′ trades food for restoring health.  You can rest with impunity after a fight is concluded, even if a monster is only one step away.

’9′ climb down when you are at a ladder.  Once you descend you can not climb back up.  Make sure you’re ready

‘clear’, ‘enter’ – glance left and right.  This is actually a useful feature of the game.  You can glance faster than you can turn, facing a monster causes a battle to initiate (except not really, you tend to have a moment to turn away and run).  If a monster is next to you but you are not facing it, eventually the monster will yell at you and start combat.  There is no background music and the yell will cause you to piss your pants.  At least it was the primary source of pants pissing for my childhood.

’0′ will retreat from battle.  The monster will get one free attack, then you will back away one step.  You can also use this as a shortcut key to take a step back outside of combat.  Do not hammer the ’0′ key while in battle, because then the monster will bash you to death and you will never retreat.

Think you’re prepared to face Scroto’s challenge?

About Kirk Spaziani

Software Engineer, Musician, Gamer, Nerd, Indie Developer of Tales of Jornica: The Lonely Dwarves
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