MAMEmania: D&D: Tower of Doom

Posted by Guest Author on Apr 16, 2008 in Videogames |

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom

In this series retro game expert Zac Bentz picks his top ten MAME games. If you’re a casual gaming fanboy MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator and is a software emulator that allows you to play ancient arcade games on modern hardware.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom – 1993 – Capcom

While the table-top pen and paper world of Dungeons & Dragons has certainly seen a successful adaptation in the world of computer gaming, it’s had a much tougher time making it into the arcades. It should be obvious but the slow moving, story drivin gaming system just can’t keep up with the quarter swallowing demands of the arcade. That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom


Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom is the first of two attempts by Capcom to bring the D&D world into the fast paced arcades. It’s essentially a side-scrolling beat-em-up with some D&D window dressing. The player can select one of four different classes, a human fighter, a human cleric, a dwarven fighter, and an elvin mage. The effectiveness of each character is really up to how the player chooses to play. They can all be used in a brute-force manner, just hacking and slashing their way to victory. The game also allows for (very) slightly more nuanced play. Each character has a strong point, like fighting or casting spells. There are also several items that can be picked up along the way like rings and boots that give the character special abilities. Finally, there is also an experience and money system that the character can use to build up and buy items in shops in between stages over time, even after dying and continuing on. This makes it a bit more appealing for the player to keep on paying for another game.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom

The game itself is, predictably, pretty flat. Sure, there are a couple times what the player is allows to choose their own path, and there are several secret rooms and a few optional doors to go through, but overall there is really very little role playing involved. The feeling of building a character is nice at first, but it soon becomes apparent that there really isn’t much going on behind the scenes.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom

The main appeal for D&D fans is the cast of monsters. There’s a lot of bland cannon fodder like kobolds and gnolls, but there are also some more fun things like displacer beasts, drow and giant trolls. There is even a dragon or two, not to mention the liche at the end who summons a host of baddies to smite you and your companions. The environments themselves are also surprisingly detailed at times, though you’ll be spending most of your time too involved in mashing the buttons to really notice.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom - 1993 - Capcom

While certainly nowhere near perfect, Tower of Doom is a nice step in the right direction. It provides a nice distraction from the straight-forward shooters and on-rails zapper games. It will never beat a nice cozy game around the table with real life friends though. Game on!

Zac Bentz is a regular contributor to the Japanese culture blog Japanator, runs his own Japanese music review blog ZB’s A-Z of J-Music and plays crazy electro-rock in The Surfactants. He lives in Duluth, MN with his wife, pets and a closet full of adventure.





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