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Deadly Towers (NES) artwork

Deadly Towers (NES) review


"It just isn’t fun to take novice hero Prince Meyer through corridors littered with non-threatening bouncing slime-like things — only to unexpectedly get whisked away to a maze loaded with animal-headed humanoids capable of disemboweling him with one hit. It’s really not fun to have to run aimlessly through these places in hopes that you’ll get lucky and find the exit before something kills Meyer. And it’s REALLY REALLY not fun to actually escape one of these places, only to blunder into another 15 seconds later."



Back in the old days of NES gaming, you didn’t have detailed in-game maps and whatnot to help you easily get through convoluted dungeons. If you wanted a good map of most locations in an adventure game, you had to grab yourself some graph paper and make it yourself. With many games, this wasn’t too tricky of a task for anyone with a working brain -- Deadly Towers was a different story, though.

If you could only see my sad attempt to put this game on paper. At first, you’d look at the castle that serves as the hub for all the places Deadly Towers takes players. After taking a brief look at this sheet of paper, you’d likely have three questions.

1. Uh, this is a pretty small place, isn’t it? Yep, there’s not much to this castle-like setting beyond a few corridors and rooms, a shop or two and a few surprises. We’ll talk about those in a bit.

2. Are all seven of these towers you’re supposed to conquer really located right next to each other? Once again, yep. You sure don’t have to do much exploration to find the main objectives of your quest.

3. Exactly what is the reason you have all those crude little attempts to draw a skull-and-crossbones on this map? You know, the ones that correspond to the words, “PLEASE GOD DON’T LET ME WALK HERE AGAIN!!!!!” on the legend? Oh, that’s an easy one. This less-than-immense castle has a bunch of invisible portals that take you into one of many more-than-immense labyrinths loaded with really tough monsters more than capable of slaughtering you until you’ve gotten really good equipment. I tried mapping those places, too.

At which point, I’d show you one of many other pieces of graph paper illustrating my attempts to get through those dungeons. You’d see what appeared to be a hundred or so rooms all linked together with possibly a shop or even an exit from the place highlighted. Odds are, you’d also see that I got frustrated by the way these places wrap around, as opposed to having borders, making it real hard to know if I was just mapping the same rooms over and over again since they all look the same. That frustration likely was illustrated by how the paper obviously had been crumpled up and then clumsily smoothed out when I’d eventually calmed down and/or the violent writing of, in really large letters, ”FUCK THIS SHIT!!! EVERYONE DIES!!!!!!” At this point, you might start feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Deadly Towers has quite rightly gained a reputation as one of the more infamously bad NES games mainly due to those invisible portals leading to brutal and confusing dungeons. It just isn’t fun to take novice hero Prince Meyer through corridors littered with non-threatening bouncing slime-like things -- only to unexpectedly get whisked away to a maze loaded with animal-headed humanoids capable of disemboweling him with one hit. It’s really not fun to have to run aimlessly through these places in hopes that you’ll get lucky and find the exit before something kills Meyer. And it’s REALLY REALLY not fun to actually escape one of these places, only to blunder into another 15 seconds later.

The sad thing is that while this likely never would have been a great game, with a bit of common sense on the part of the designers, it could have been a moderately fun romp. All they would have had to do is follow these two easy steps:

1. Scrap the invisible dungeons and make the actual castle bigger. Now, instead of having all seven towers in one chamber, scatter them throughout the new, improved castle.

2. All seven towers are essentially the same. You have a brief jaunt up a stone walkway to get to the actual tower and then a short climb up a few ladders to get to the top and a boss fight. Maybe we should invest in a bit of diversity here, so we don’t bore the player by making them feel they’re doing the same thing over and over again. I remember by the time I was going through towers, one after the next, I actually was wishing I’d fall into one of those labyrinths just so I’d get a bit of variety. “Fortunately” for me, I soon found out the invisible entrance to one of ‘em was right there in the tower room. Moral of the story: Be careful for what you wish for....you just might get it.

At least with those changes, this game could be considered a tolerable, if unexceptional clone of The Legend of Zelda, which would be far superior than the actual product. It wouldn’t make up for the ugly suit of armor worn by Meyer, the crudely drawn enemies or the way many bosses use the wonderful attack strategy of aimlessly moving around their room while wildly shooting projectiles at you, but at least you’d be able to walk around without getting whisked into a deathtrap. And that in itself would have made this game worth playing. As it is, well, it definitely deserves every last bit of its negative reputation.

Rating: 1/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 18, 2007)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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