"Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon" is a solid entry in the D&D franchise, exclusively made for the TG-16 system. Released in 1992, "Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon" is an especially interesting entry because it is set in the lesser known Mystara setting (as opposed to Forgotten Realms), and uses the first edition D&D rules, shunning the more refined advanced D&D rule set. Although it isn't the most impressive D&D RPG game I've ever played, I'm a huge fan of games that are driven by text and give the player the chance to interact with the narrative through text responses. Being given choices such as lighting a tavern on fire, or challenging the patrons to an arm wrestling match still feel quirky and fun. The text in this game is not as extensive as some, but I was really impressed with the graphics and music as well.
Your quest begins with the task of investigating reports of the undead by the doubtful Lord Korrigan, ruler of Radleb Keep. Korrigan must not come out of his room very often because there is literally a room full of skeleton warrior like fifty feet down the hall from Korrigan's chambers. The game's atmosphere is constructed through interactions with villagers, who are fear for their lives, and are obviously very familiar with the undead scourge. Bandits are victimizing the populous by kidnapping people and turning them over to a vampire overlord, who is intent on turning the hapless peasants into ghouls and other monstrosities. Being poor definitely sucks in the D&D universe. Although being rich doesn't make you safe either, evidenced by the fact that I uncovered numerous assassination plots while still in the castle that my adventure began in. The various warring criminal organizations and cults add another layer to the anxiety and trepidation that I experienced while exploring. Walking into a random house usually results in the player interrupting something criminal and brutal, fights to the death with the occupants quickly ensue. The abrupt and unexpected character interactions forced me to save every three minutes and kept me partially off balance for the durations of my play through, but that was also one of the aspects that I found most enjoyable.
"Order of the Griffon" uses a turn-based combat system that closely resembles Gold Box games, and utilizes a third person, over-head, grid view while in combat. The birds-eye view is also utilized during map travel. When traveling with your party through cities, a first person dungeon crawler view is employed. The player's party consists of four characters that are chosen from a pool of 21. There are seven classes available, each with three unique characters with different stats and appearance.
After constructing your party, your first task will be to explore the town. Towns contain a variety of buildings, most of which can be accessed by the player. Every town contains an Armory, Temple, Spell shop, and Tavern. The armory sells and buys weapons and armor. The spell shop sells spells (say that three times fast). In the temple the player can revive and heal fallen characters, as well as purchase potions. The tavern is a place of mischief in which the player can court all types of trouble such as carving into the table, setting a fire, or picking pockets, luckily, the player is only held accountable for their actions if they are caught.
The world map should be familiar to most RPG players. The overhead view enables characters to travel the world, walking to cities, or crypts, switching to the combat screen whenever your party has run across enemies (that remain invisible to the player in the world map). When in the combat screen, the player will take turns moving characters and directing their attacks. Placing the cursor over an enemy reveals that enemy's name, hit points, and distance to the targeted enemy. The combat screen is riddled with objects such as walls, boulders, and plants that must be navigated around to execute attacks on the enemy.
By pressing select the player switches the screen to the inventory / camp screen. This screen displays all of the character attributes and experience statistics. The screen is also used to equip weapons, memorize spells, rest (which is required to replenish magic), flee combat, and save the game. Saving the game is much easier while playing on Console Classix, as it does not require the creation of a password. The player must rest after memorizing a spell if they want it to be available for their next combat encounter.
|Up||Moves the party, character, and cursor|
|Down||Moves the party, character, and cursor|
|Left||Moves the party, character, and cursor|
|Right||Moves the party, character, and cursor|
|I||Selects the item highlighted by the cursor, also selects the location highlighted by the cursor during combat while selecting the active item on the right|
|II||Selects the item highlighted by the cursor, also selects the location highlighted by the cursor during combat while selecting the active item on the left|
|Run||Cancels character actions during combat, gives the next character the right to fight, and breaks camp when camped|