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Game #4724
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Pool of Radiance    View all Top Dogs in this genre
RPG   First-person

Rating: 8.74 (185 votes)

Pool of Radiance box cover

Pool of Radiance screenshot
In the annals of RPG gaming, few series can boast of being "pioneers" of the genre more than SSI with its "Gold Box" series, all based on AD&D mechanics and worlds licensed from TSR. Of these, four games set in the "Forgotten Realms" world stand out as the best of the bunch. Comprising four games released over four years, Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, and Pools of Darkness remain a lot of fun even today as some of the most addictive – albeit maddeningly combat-ridden – RPGs ever created. Pools of Radiance and Pools of Darkness are my most favorite of the series. Pool of Radiance because it was a great beginning to a solid RPG system, and Pools of Darkness because it gives you a chance to meet famous NPCs from AD&D world, marvel at the non-linear storyline, and develop your heroes to very high levels. All four games are must-haves for RPG fans everywhere, although Secret of the Silver Blades is a disappointment compared to the rest.

GameSpot's nice History of AD&D gives a good overview of Pool of Radiance as follows: "Released in 1988, Pool of Radiance was the first of SSI's illustrious Gold Box AD&D series of games. Based in the Forgotten Realms universe on an actual AD&D campaign module, Ruins of Adventure, Pool of Radiance took the rules, statistics, and number-crunching of the pen-and-paper game and brought it to computer screens everywhere.

The game itself began in New Phlan, a small settlement built on the ashes of a once-great city. The player would assemble a mercenary party of up to six characters, with two slots open for NPCs. The adventure began with a block-by-block quest to rid the ruins of the old city from the monsters and evil spirits that had since taken residence, then later expanded to the outland areas of the Moonsea, culminating in a dramatic battle with the demon Tyranthraxus the Flamed One.

Though somewhat criticized for its limitations, such as the availability of only four character classes (fighter, magic-user, cleric and thief) and the low level cap (level nine for thieves, eight for fighters and six for spellcasters), Pool of Radiance, with its detailed art (many pictures were based directly on illustrations from existing monster manuals), wide variety of quests and treasure, and fully tactical combat ultimately succeeded in its goal of bringing a standardized form of AD&D to the home computer, and laid the foundation for other future gold box AD&D role-playing games."

Note: The interview by Matt Barton linked below starts from episode 181, but the one linked is about the Gold Box games.

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Brad Myers
Developer: Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)
Publisher: Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)
Year: 1988
Software Copyright: Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)
Theme: Fantasy
None that we know of
System Requirements: DOS
Where to get it:
Related Links: Interview with Joel Billings (founder of SSI)
If you like this game, try: Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, Pools of Darkness

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