Dungeons of Daggorath is one of the most important games in Ready Player One (Amazon). Located in one of 256 recreations of James Halliday’s hometown (and childhood home/bedroom) on the planet Middletown, TSR-80 version of the game provided to be the gateway to one of the keys associated with dead programmer’s Easter Egg hunt.
“Daggorath” (with two “g”s) could refer only to one thing: an incredibly obscure computer game called Dungeons of Daggorath released in 1982. The game had been made for just one platform, the TRS-80 Color Computer. — Ready Player One p. 85
Dungeons of Daggorath is a straightforward dungeon crawl in which you, from a first-person perspective, navigate a basic, dotted-line-drawn 3D interface. Armed with a wooden sword, shield, and torch, you face off against spiders, humanoid monsters, and other threats as you try to descend to the lowest level of the dungeon. The entire time your digital heart beats in the middle of the interface, its sound speeding up as you exert yourself.
Damn, this game is old. And damn, is it hard. Thankfully, there’s a quick demo that shows how to light a torch, equip a sword, and move through the dungeon. It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, but once I did, I ventured forth.
I moved down a corridor, turned a corner, and ran into a spider.
Which killed me.
So I tried again. And died again.
If I knew there were a few billion dollars on the line (as is the case in Ready Player One), I’d delve deeper. I’ve played a ton of games like this, though admittedly, none as hard as this. It’s a fun bit of 1980s trivia, and folks who played it back then will undoubtedly enjoy trying it again, but for me … I’m ok with moving on to the next game in the Replay.
The Ready Player One Replay is an ongoing exploration of the games that inspired the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Love it or hate it, there’s value in revisiting our geeky roots.
- My High Score: I died. Early and often.
Where to Play
- Emulator: Dungeons of Daggorath – A web-based version of the game
- Download Dungeons of Daggorath from the Microosft store – A Windows-based version of the game
- Wikipedia: Dungeons of Daggorath – A high-level overview of the game from the venerable wiki.
- 8-Bit Coder: Game Play Video: Dungeons of Daggorath (1982) – Actual play videos of the game as well as complete maps of Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.
- CRPG Addict: Dungeons of Daggorath – A review of the video game.
- Internet Archive: Dungeons of Daggorath Manual – A digital version of the manual. It includes a plain-text alternative as well.
- Dungeons of Daggorath Walk-Through – A step-by-step, key-by-key walkthrough of the game, as well as an overview of tactics for each level
- Computer Archeology – Dungeons of Daggorath – Another walkthrough of the dungeon with individual keystroke instructions.
- CRPG Addict – Game 132: Dungeons of Daggorath (1982) – An extensive write-up of the game, including maps of Level 1 and level 2