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DOS RPG Hidden Gems?

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First post, by clueless1

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As I look at my playlist, I see that I'm starting to dwindle the list of DOS RPGs down to a handful. There had to be more good RPGs for the DOS platform! Maybe some hidden gems? Some prerequisites: High Fantasy settings are greatly preferred, turn-based is preferred, and preferably modern enough (1990 or later) to have some creature comforts like automapping, journal, etc.

Here's a list of RPGs and RPG-like games I've already beaten, from oldest to newest:
Wizardry VI
Might and Magic 4: Clouds of Xeen
Realms of Arkania I
Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Ultima Underworld I
Wizardry VII
Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos
Shadowcaster
Ultima Underworld II
Ultima VII Pt. 2 Serpent Isle
edit: Menzoberranzan
Realms of Arkania II
System Shock
Anvil of Dawn
Crusader: No Remorse
Stonekeep
Crusader: No Regret

Here's a list of games I did not finish and probably won't try again due to either UI issues I could not get past, or simply not liking them:
Eye of the Beholder
Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams
Dark Sun: Shattered Lands
Albion
Fallout
probably EOB2 and 3 because I didn't like EOB1
probably Ultima VI because I didn't like the UI in Martian Dreams

Here's my current To-Play List:
Might and Magic 3: Isles of Terra
Darklands
Betrayal at Krondor
Ultima VIII
Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession
Ravenloft: Stone Prophet
Realms of Arkania III
Daggerfall

I do plan on attempting some Gold Box games on a modern system with Gold Box Companion, but I don't count these here because I'm only looking for games that I will play on a real DOS PC, not emulated with modern wrappers. That means M&M1 and 2 shouldn't be suggested, because I'd only play them with the Where Are We? wrapper.

Any other good DOS RPGs that fit my prerequisites that I have not listed above?

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
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Reply 2 of 23, by thepirategamerboy12

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Farland Story is a great DOS PC RPG. It does fit your criteria of being in a fantasy setting, turn-based, and being modern enough (1993). I think it's an incredibly underrated game. It was originally released for the NEC PC-98 Japanese computer, but a Taiwanese company named Unalis Corp. ported it to IBM PC. Unfortunately, this port is in Chinese, but the PC-98 original got an English translation back in 2003. I did briefly work on adapting the PC-98 translation to the IBM PC port with permission from BTAxis, though I never fully completed it. I got it to a fairly playable state, with a few strings untranslated. I suppose I could somehow send you the work I've done if you'd rather play this port rather than the original version. I do think the original version is better because the YM2203/YM2608 music wasn't the most well converted to OPL2.

As far as Western games go, I quite like WaxWorks. Though, it probably leans a bit more on adventure than RPG.

Last edited by thepirategamerboy12 on 2020-09-29, 01:40. Edited 4 times in total.

Reply 4 of 23, by newtmonkey

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Disciples of Steel (1991)
Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/disciples-of-steel
CRPG Addict review: https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2016/02/disci … nal-rating.html
I've not played this extensively yet, but it's on my list. It's a high fantasy party-based RPG with excellent turn-based combat and even has an auto-map built in. It came highly recommended from an online acquaintance with excellent taste in turn-based RPGs, and the CRPG Addict also ended up loving it (among his top 10 games of all time thus far).

The Dark Heart of Uukrul (1989)
Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/dark-heart-of-uukrul
CRPG Addict review: https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2012/11/dark- … -rating_17.html
High fantasy, turn-based combat, but more of a focus on dungeon delving and puzzle solving than combat (the combat is fine, though). It's stuck in a single giant dungeon (like Wizardry VI), but has a built-in automap and though it was released in 1989 feels like a game from the early 90s imo.

Demon's Winter (1988)
Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/demons-winter
CRPG Addict reivew: https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2011/03/demon … nal-rating.html
I've played this for maybe 5-6 hours on my C64 but put it on hold when I became preoccupied with building a DOS system. Decent turn-based combat with a large world to explore and some fun dungeons to solve. The best thing about this game is the character system, with some interesting classes (including a "Visionary" class that is meant solely to make exploration easier; highly recommended), a fun skill system, and a somewhat unique spell system with several different schools of magic and the ability to spend extra points when casting to keep those low level spells effective even later into the game. There's no auto-map, but it's not really the kind of game you need to map square-by-square... everything is from an overhead view and although the world is quite large each individual continent is of a manageable size.

If you have Windows 3.11 on your DOS PC...
Exile: Escape from the Pit (1995)
Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/exile-escape-from-the-pit
Definitely worth playing over its remake (Avernum) as it offers a larger party (6 vs 4 characters), more spells, better combat (mostly due to there being more spells), and imo better graphics. It's got a built-in journal and excellent auto-map.

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A good resource for reviews written by a guy who has similar tastes in RPGs (party-based, turn-based fantasy) is the CRPG Addict (maybe you are already aware of him). He's got a list of games he's finished by year, so you can just read the last posts for each game to get an idea of whether the game seems interesting or not:
https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/p/index-of-ga … ed-by-year.html

Reply 5 of 23, by Jorpho

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I was just going to link to CRPG Addict; I was reading some of his stuff recently. Dark Heart of Uukrul looks darn interesting indeed.

I might suggest Wasteland, but you'll probably want the modern DOSBox-integrated version that doesn't force you to stop to look up the flavor text.

Superhero League of Hoboken is definitely lightweight, but at least you might get a laugh out of it.

Reply 6 of 23, by newtmonkey

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Jorpho wrote on 2020-09-29, 02:20:

I might suggest Wasteland, but you'll probably want the modern DOSBox-integrated version that doesn't force you to stop to look up the flavor text.

This is another great suggestion! The combat is not great, but the way skills are integrated into the "puzzles" (maybe "obstacles" is a better word in this case) is very unique. It's not a particularly long game, either.

---

Speaking of Interplay, another game I forgot to mention:

Dragon Wars (1989)
Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/dragon-wars
CRPG Addict: https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2013/06/drago … nal-rating.html
Very interesting first-person party-based RPG with turn-based combat and a great skill system that is somewhat similar to how skills are used in Wasteland, actually. It's got a pretty unique setting/story/gameworld, decent combat, and a very nice built-in automap. Sadly, like Wasteland, you need to look up log entries in a book as you play.

Reply 7 of 23, by badmojo

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Strife is a lot less hardcore than the RPGs being discussed here (hub based thing using the DOOM engine but has RPG elements) but I've had some fun with it over the years.

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 9 of 23, by clueless1

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Thanks for the feedback. I've looked into all your suggestions. Strife is on my playlist (as a FPS). CRPG Addict is a site I've visited many times. It's been awhile though, and he's finished some more games since I last visited, so it's good to see those reviews. Thanks, newtmonkey for the suggestion. Amulets and Armor does look interesting too! As for Farland Story, I've got some prejudice against JRPGs that if I could get past, I might be able to enjoy games like this.

I think the next DOS RPG I'll play is probably Betrayal at Krondor. It's considered a classic, one I never played when it was new (I think I might've bought it in '93, but never played it), and one I own now.

Any other suggestions for games, drop them here. Thanks.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 10 of 23, by DracoNihil

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clueless1 wrote on 2020-09-29, 23:51:

Amulets and Armor does look interesting too!

It's even more interesting in co-op. Especially if the other players are all playing opposite ends of the class system.

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Reply 11 of 23, by Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman

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Star Control 2
Perhaps more action-adventure than RPG, but since you can equip your flag ship with better, more advanced modules as you progress through the game, as well as purchasing escort ships, then I believe it falls into RPG category. In fact, it is perhaps the best, most captivating RPG I've ever played.

Space Rogue
Almost like Star Control 2, where your 'character' is your ship. The difference is the game's perspective; SC-2 is top-down, while Space Rogue is a space simulation.

Privateer and Privateer 2: The Darkening
The successors of Space Rogue, with better graphics and gameplay.

Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday and Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed
Rather obscure SSI Goldbox releases, but the theme is refreshing, the story is intriguing, and I'd rather play sci-fi than high fantasy any day.

D.R.A.G.O.N Force
Also an obscure computer game, it is actually a squad tactical game, but since your soldiers' attributes increase after they perform a mission, so it also counts as RPG, no? In any case, I really love D.R.A.G.O.N Force WEGO system, and I hope to see more games adopting it. Alas, as far as I know, only Combat Mission series has WEGO system, and the series is not even squad-level tactical game.

Never thought this thread would be that long, but now, for something different.....
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman.

Reply 12 of 23, by Jorpho

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How about Autoduel? It seems to get an enthusiastic recommendation on occasion. The CRPG Addict wasn't too enthusiastic about it, though.
http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2016/03/autodu … nal-rating.html

Reply 13 of 23, by SuperDeadite

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Knights of Xentar (Dragon Knight III) is a fun little romp to plow through.

Modules: CM-64, CM-500, SC-55MkII, SC-88 Pro, SY22, TG100, MU2000EX, PLG100-SG, PLG150-DR, PLG150-AN, SG01k, NS5R, GZ-50M, SN-U110-07, SN-U110-10, Pocket Studio 5, Dreamblaster X2, McFly

Reply 14 of 23, by thepirategamerboy12

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SuperDeadite wrote on 2020-10-01, 04:13:

Knights of Xentar (Dragon Knight III) is a fun little romp to plow through.

The voice acting in the CD version is pretty funny. It legit sounds to me like the port devs got friends and family to do it all. Apparently, the story was also modified quite a bit from the original Japanese version. Also, be sure to apply the +18 patch before playing.

Reply 16 of 23, by clueless1

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Wolfus wrote on 2020-10-01, 07:46:

I would suggest Amberstar, but you didn't like Albion so I am not sure...
Why the hell you don't like Albion???

UI issues with Albion that I couldn't get past:
-movement was hold left-mouse button down constantly which hurt my hand. I tried using the keyboard but it was arrow keys only, so no diagonal movement.
-I hated the first-person perspective. IMO it was so poorly done that I could not navigate without getting lost. I'd intend to turn 90 degrees but somehow end up turned 180 without realizing it.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 17 of 23, by SuperDeadite

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thepirategamerboy12 wrote on 2020-10-01, 06:58:
SuperDeadite wrote on 2020-10-01, 04:13:

Knights of Xentar (Dragon Knight III) is a fun little romp to plow through.

The voice acting in the CD version is pretty funny. It legit sounds to me like the port devs got friends and family to do it all. Apparently, the story was also modified quite a bit from the original Japanese version. Also, be sure to apply the +18 patch before playing.

As someone who has played all the original japanese versions, I can say the main story in the english release is fine. The issue is that the hero revisits towns from the first two games, and the translaters had no idea who these people were. Lol.

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Reply 18 of 23, by GL1zdA

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Have you tried the RPG Codex list? There are RPG from old to modern, but each entry has a release date, so you can quickly see, whether it's one for DOS: https://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=11193

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Reply 19 of 23, by Hanamichi

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A very interesting thread 😀

Couple of suggestions:

Ecstatica I/II. Dark Souls before it was technically possible.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpbHEZogIyI

Ishar series.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldS5UiR0Bpg

Space Hulk.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwOBxoaiJfU