Have You Played... AD&D: Heroes Of The Lance?
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I was a quintessential 90s nerd. I went through the phases so many of us did: Games Workshop, Star Wars, X-Men, Street Fighter II, Robocop, Terminator and Aliens, and of course Dragonlance. Thanks to a series of hugely successful novels, the Dragonlance/Krynn world emerged as the most popular Advanced Dungeons & Dragons setting for a time, seeming so much more layered, characterful and dangerous than the comparatively blander Forgotten Realms. I read the books first, played the pen & paper RPG second, then finally sought out videogame adaptations from years previous.
This would have been approximately 1993 or 1994, around half a decade aftr Heroes of the Lance's release, and almost 10 years on from Drangonlance's inception. By the time I and the small group of nerdly chums I briefly associated with came to Dragonlance, there were already the best part of a dozen novels out, and we were obsessed with the destiny of Tanis Half-Elven, loved the capering of Tasselhoff Burfoot and were by turns thrilled and dismayed by the Jedi/Sith flip-flopping of Raistlin Majere.
So to discover there had been a Dragonlance game, and one based around the initial adventures of these beloved characters at that, was to be overjoyed. To discover that it was years old and looked it was a disappointment, but it didn't stop us. The lack of much dialogue or characterisation was more problematic - it says something that even a teeenage boy thought there was something off about simply killing everything to death, given that the source material involved moral dilemmas, romance, treachery and teamwork.
But it was our Dragonlance, on a screen. As the only PC-owner, I played host - a friend came round and watched me play through the entire ugly, simple thing, which must have lasted some three straight hours. Our attachment to the characters meant we experienced horror when someone died, but excitement as the next one took their place - a neat alternative to Golden Axe et al's lives system. Mostly though, we loved the art on the character selection/bio screens - these seemed like the most detailed and realistic depictions of the cast we'd ever seen, and we were amazed that the PC could render them:
I never played it again. It was so stupid. I loved every minute of it.