Dark Tower was an innovative hybrid of a role playing game and board game using a fusion of computerized electronic parts in a traditional board game setting. It was released by Milton Bradley in 1981. This game capitalized on both the D&D; role playing craze and the video game explosion in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
The object of the game was to navigate a circular playing board through four kingdoms, collecting gold, warriors and three magical keys needed to storm the Dark Tower and defeat the brigands that held the tower to attain victory. The action was guided by the electronic Dark Tower in the middle of the board… It dictated all of the events leading up to you storming the tower. The outcome of every battle was determined randomly by the computer in the tower.
As you travel through the four kingdoms, you can visit the buildings in each land to obtain more gear, food, gold and warriors to prepare for the ultimate battle at the end of the game. But beware the dragon that can swoop down at random to take some of your gold and warriors. But that’s not all… other players can curse you causing the loss of gold and your all important warriors as well. So be the first to claim all three magical keys, solve the puzzle at the end of the game, and battle the brigands to obtain victory before the other players do.
The control keyboard on the tower is used to input your moves into the computer so that actions can be determined and random events can be shown in the windows of the tower. An interesting fact is that you actually don’t need any other pieces except the tower to play a game, as the entire scope of gameplay is dictated by the tower itself.
The game is so rare because of litigation. The court found that Milton Bradley misappropriated the trade secrets of Alan Coleman and Roger Burten who had invented the concept in 1970 and tried to sell the idea to Milton Bradley in February of 1980. After Milton Bradley rejected their idea, they went on to release the Dark Tower game in 1981. Damages totaling almost 3/4 of a million dollars were awarded to Coleman and Burten. So the Dark Tower was only on the market for less than a year.
Dark Tower reminds us a lot of the Voice of the Mummy board game. I personally loved this game as a kid and wished that more hybrids like it would be released, but few ever were, such as Mattel’s Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth game. it was a fun time to grow up.