The Quest for the Rings was the first and arguably best adventure/RPG game produced for the Odyssey, 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” line, slightly overcomplicated epics that incorporated board game elements and complex rules – and the video game components of 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 that covered up most of the keys, leaving only the ones used in the game. One main reason for this heavy reliance on outside-the-screen elements is the hardware limitations of the Odyssey. Fortunately, excellent game design makes this a classic game, even if the computer’s role is limited. |
Simply put, QFTR is a three-player adventure/RPG game where two of the players are the heroes and the other one the “Ringmaster” similar to the gamemaster in pen & paper RPGs. The game's objective is simply for the two players to evade or fend off all the monsters in each environment while recovering ten rings the Ringmaster has secretly placed across the game world. The heroes win if they obtain all ten of the rings before their turns run out. The Ringmaster wins if they do not.
Classes 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. 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 class you're playing as. For example, the Shifting Halls have walls which constantly slide across the screen, sometimes trapping you or the monsters. Inferno rooms have walls of molten lava which a phantom – who can normally walk through walls – cannot pass through. 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 classics that everyone should take a look into, 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