Army/Strategy/Adventure – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Armor Battle, Mission-X, Utopia

I’ve assembled another mishmash of games for this post. I attempted to lump them into a single category but that’s not really feasible. They don’t even belong to the same Intellivision game network. AD&D and Armor Battle are part of the action network, Utopia was part of the strategy network, and Mission-X has a blue box which was designated for sports but by the time it was released in 1983, Mattel had retired the “network” system to categorize their games. So be it.

Currently in my collection:

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons – game, manual, box, 2 overlays

I was pleasantly surprised with the gameplay for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It is commonly referred to as “Cloudy Mountain” in order to differentiate it from the other AD&D game available for the Intellivision, Treasure of Tarmin. After boning up on the gameplay and battle mechanics via the manual and making sure I understood what the keypad and side buttons did, I popped the cartridge in and it all immediately clicked. You move your party of three adventurers towards mountains that contain caves with the ultimate goal of reaching Cloudy Mountain on the other side of the screen. Within these mountain caves are creatures that you must fight or run from along with weapons and items you must obtain. The game uses a color coded system for the mountains to know what weapons or items are in each mountain cave. Some caves contain simple enemies while others contain deadlier and more difficult enemies to defeat. The only weapon you’re given is a bow with limited arrows. Luckily you can find additional arrows scattered throughout the caverns so running out shouldn’t be an issue. Items such as the boat and axe are necessary in order to clear forests or cross rivers to reach Cloudy Mountain. The game offers plenty of challenge but it’s not exceedingly difficult once you learn an important tactic of how to defeat enemies before you even see them using the sounds that they make. AD&D is a standout adventure game for the Intellivision and is a great alternative to the typical arcade ports. A-

Armor Battle – game, manual, box, 2 overlays

Clearly the Intellivision’s answer to Atari’s Combat, Armor Battle is a 2 player tank battle game with busier and more colorful game screens, hundreds of them according to the manual! Gameplay is similar to Combat and in Armor Battle you can even drop down an invisible land mine once per battle, which is kind of a cool addition. Bottom line, Armor Battle would have been a great 2 player game in the early 80s but it’s very difficult to recommend it today. C

Mission-X – game, manual, box, 2 overlays

Mission-X is an air battle game that can’t really be called a shooter since you spend most of your time bombing targets from above instead of shooting enemies in the air. You can move your plane up in the sky to blast airborne enemies (which there are few of) or move your plane closer to the ground to improve your accuracy when bombing various targets for points. You have to dodge ground to air missiles but they move slowly and are easy to dodge. The gameplay in Mission-X gets dull after awhile and it isn’t one of my favorite Intellivision titles. C+

Utopia – game, manual, box, 2 overlays

Utopia is essentially a sim game where you create your own island state. You are in control of the state’s industry, housing, education, health care, agriculture, treasury and military. Your goal is to create the best life possible for the residents of your island, or basically a utopian paradise. The happier the population is, the more points you score. You work towards this goal during rounds which can last anywhere from 30 to 120 seconds and you can choose up to 50 different rounds per game. There’s a lot of deep gameplay elements in Utopia and if you’re up for this style of game, this is the granddaddy of them all. It’s not for everyone but I applaud Mattel for creating such an innovative and ambitious title. B

2 thoughts on “Army/Strategy/Adventure – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Armor Battle, Mission-X, Utopia

  1. Triple Action was more of an answer to Atari’s Combat than Armor Battle was. I would like Armor Battle a lot better today if the number of tanks per player wasn’t fixed at 50. As for Mission-X, it was originally an arcade game. It’s actually more fun on the Intellivision, but I agree the gameplay does seem a bit simple. Utopia inspired the early Sim titles.

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