The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey ranks among the most unique and imaginative fantasy novels ever created, so it is not surprising that a strategy game based on its world would be of the most unique games. First released for the Atari and Commodore 64, the game sold reasonably well, although it remains debatable whether The Connelley Group would have been more successful had they published an RPGout of the license rather than an action/strategy hybrid that it is. |
Set on the planet Pern, the game centers around the periodic fall of a deadly rain of silver thread, presaged by the appearance of the Red Star. Pern's human population inhabits holds and Weyrs, strongholds in which commerce, industry, and dragon-raising take place. As the representative of an important Weyr, your twofold task is to win the confidence of the other holds and Weyrs through negotiation, and to defend the planet from the falling silver thread by riding dragons whose fiery breath burns it. In the originals you could choose a game with or without thread fighting, and select the game's speed and length. There are two stages of play: negotiating and thread fighting. In the negotiating stage, your task is to, well, negotiate with many different characters, each with a distinct personality. Negotiation is difficult because you can't foretell exactly how a Pernesian will react to your approaches; you might negotiate well, and still be denied the political alliance you seek. In the thread-fighting sequence, you battle silver threads from the back of your dragon. In the original versions, you fly in pseudo-3D with multiple layers to the 2D side view. However, the DOS conversion by Everlasting just has a basic text-based display for everything, and so you get to give orders to your whole flight while the fighting rolls automatically.
Overall, Dragonriders of Pern is a challenging game. You can assume different types of behavior when negotiating with Pernesians, so it's never the same game twice. Highly recommended!
NB: To get past the character naming screen, give yourself a name that contains an apostrophe and your dragon one that ends in "th". The time field accepts a simple numerical input like "5". Playing in DosBox, you can affect the game speed directly by adjusting your CPU cycles.
Reviewed by: Underdogs