The Quest for the Rings was the first and arguably best adventure/RPG game produced for the Odyssey², one of the early 80s console systems (whose main competition at the time was the Atari VCS). QFTR is a remarkable game in many aspects, not least because of the circumstances surrounding its release. This was the first entry in Magnavox’ “Master Strategy” series of games, slightly overcomplicated epics that incorporated board game elements and complex rules - and video game components which were, ultimately, simplistic at best. Magnavox’ answer to popular adventure titles for the Atari VCS (e.g. Haunted House), QFTR was an expensive board-game-on-computer game that boasts some of the most elaborate “extras/feelies” you’ll find in any game, including an illustrated game board, dozens of game pieces, and even a keyboard overlay which eliminated most of the keys from play, leaving only specific keys important to the game. One key reason for this heavy reliance on outside-the-screen elements is the hardware limitations of the Odyssey². Fortunately, excellent game design makes this a classic game, even if the computer’s role is limited. |
Simply put, QFTR is a 3-player adventure/RPG game where 2 players act as heroes in the game, and another as “Ringmaster” – a mediator for the game similar gamemaster for pen & paper RPGs. The game's object simply for the 2 players to evade or fend off all the monsters in each environment to recover 10 rings the Ringmaster secretly places in different locations on the game board. The heroes win if they capture all ten of the Rings before their turns run out. The Ringmaster wins if they do not.
Two players first choose their characters’ classes that are reminiscent of fantasy D&D settings: warrior, wizard, changeling, and phantom. The players then go to battle the monsters co-operatively in different environments which are played in action sequences on screen. These environments are a lot of fun because they have special and unique features that make the battle more or less challenging depending on which character class you choose. For example, Shifting Halls have walls which constantly slide across the screen, sometimes trapping you and the monsters. Inferno rooms have walls of molten lava which a phantom – who can normally walk through walls – cannot pass. All of these rooms could be populated at random, or pre-programmed, with D&D monsters such as orcs, spydroths, and dragons.
Although the “quest” portion that is played on the board is a little tedious due to complex rules you must follow, the action-style videogame component is fun enough that you’ll ignore the shortcomings. The game can be played in solo mode, but of course it’s a lot more fun with friends. Definitely one of the most overlooked console classic that everyone should take a look, and thanks to the superb O2EM emulator, you can now play this oldie but goodie on your PC. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs