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The Tower of Druaga

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Released: 1984

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Namco

Developer: Namco

Submitted by: Ant Cooke

What’s that I hear you cry? “All these modern games are too easy! I demand a challenge to test my mind and reflexes!”

Be careful what you wish for. I found myself saying that a few years ago, and ended up suffering through The Tower of Druaga, cursing heavily after every miserable failure while I did so. I later felt that too much of a challenge was a bad thing.

Your task in this game is to climb the titular 60-floor tower. All you can do at the start is stab things with your sword and walk around. On each floor, there’s a door, a key, a hidden treasure chest, and various monsters all trying to kill you- one hit, and you’re dead. Grab the key and the treasure, move up to the next floor, repeat 59 times.

Here’s where the challenge lies- you’ve got to find out how to reveal the hidden treasure chests on each floor, as you literally cannot beat the game without most of the items they contain. Unfortunately, the methods for revealing each treasure chest are so amazingly obtuse that it’s a wonder anyone has ever beaten this game- some of the tasks include standing still for 10 seconds, killing the enemies in a specific order, and my personal favourite, pressing the Start button.

Add in the fact that Gil is slow and the enemies are merciless, and you’ve got a game that takes great pleasure in making the player suffer for every scrap of progress. Maybe that’s why it’s appealing- the idea of struggling against a game where every level completed is another victory against the malicious game designer is oddly entertaining, and when you do get to the final screen (as I did, after two weeks of trying, resorting to a guide to do so) the feeling of satisfaction (and relief) is quite wonderful- easily one of my favourite moments in all my years of gaming.

If you’re still sure you want a challenge, then take on The Tower of Druaga, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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