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Pool of Radiance

Amiga game review, ADF downloads, screenshots, ratings and insights
Quite simply, Pool of Radiance (POR) is one of the first, and best, AD&D games ever to be offered in the digital realm. It graced screens two years before it found its way to the Amiga, but the wait was well worth it (and two more after that for the NES).

The POR world is impressive to say the least. The UI follows fairly closely some of the precedents set forth by the likes of Bard’s Tale: small corners of the screen devoted to close-up views of people and monsters you have dialog- or battle- with, or marching through parts of town or dungeons in a 3D viewport.

But then POR innovated - big time - when it came to battles. When battles ensue, a system was created that became expected in Japanese games like Final Fantasy and other popular RPGs. Players get to see their groups on-screen in relationship to their challengers, but with even more realism than most other games at the time. For example, arrows can come into play if you need to hit a foe 30 feet away (which you can aim at) while fighters do close combat in the front ranks. Magic users can hang even further back to cast spells on large groups of baddies to give your party an advantage (or a fighting chance!). The tactical aspects are fantastic.

Is the game hard? Hard as nails at times. Good luck playing this game and not getting your early level characters knocked out, with no money for cures, and being left wondering what to do. But take a deep breath and restart, because re-rolling your characters (for a very long time) will allow you to put together a party that can stay alive for a little while. And your party better have “balance,” meaning a bit of everything, and everyone better be nearly maxed out.

But once you finally do get that perfect party of adventurers, save often. Because you never know when you might burst into a scene of insanely difficult battles that you can’t possibly win on first glance. And, frankly, that’s OK. You’ll need to Raise Dead more than once regardless.

Pool of Radiance is one of the most “genuine” and true to the old rules of AD&D and very well balanced. And while you may grow tired of isometric turn-based battles that last several minutes, if you were using paper, pencil and dice battles didn’t exactly take 5 seconds. They could take quite a long time.

This type of battle sequence was borrowed heavily by several Japanese franchises (or vice versa).

PoR is incredibly deep, vast, and detailed. If you love RPGs & D&D, PoR is going to give you most of what you’re looking for. Is it perfect? No - it has its shortcomings, but compared to all other D&D CRPGs, Pool of Radiance is one of the games to beat. And has been for a very, very long time.

To learn more, check out this in-depth user review.
4.8
4 total votes

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User avatar
Shot97

by Shot97 Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:22 pm

Worst copy protection ever! I hated that damn scroll wheel! For any that complain about endless battles, you're not playing it right... When you're hand writing the maps, which, was required in order to have a chance of winning legit back in the day, then the battles were a welcome change of pace. And for any tempted to cheat and print out the maps you seriously are cheating yourself from a valuable and enjoyable gaming experience. The battle system was and is amazing. I tend to feel Might and Magic outdid the goldbox games in most areas, except the battle systems. This was a true strategeic battle system, that, sadly, SSI themseleves would go away from once Eye of the Beholder became big... Not really brought back until Baulders Gate, but by then it's real time and you've lost something. Here it is, a true turn based strategic battle system... Will you hack with a sword, cast a spell, or use a bow or dart? Is something in the way? Would it be better to wait this turn and let the enemy do something stupid? Hard as nails it is... Anyone that dares think any single JRPG was ever challenging has simply never played a WesternRPG. Story? That's where the JRPGs usually win, they have constant story where as Western RPGs usually feature much less... Well, you simply can't have a non linear world and lots of story... You really have to pick one or the other... But for a non linear RPG, Pool of Radiance DOES have quite an intricate story. It was told through journal entries, both a copy protection scheme as well as saving valuable disk space... You needed the manual... Cracks wouldn't help you with this game! But the thing with Western RPGs, even ones with little story through much of the game, what little story there is, it's far more memorable than any JRPG. If you played this game, you know the story... It's epic and memorable. It continued on for another 3 games in this series, and many other story lines went on through different games. It became a world you cared about. Traveling that wilderness... Sadly the best overworld screen a gold box game ever had, but never used again. Going to the pyramid and stopping the pollution of the river... The graveyard... The slums and library... The castle and that bastard Tyranthraxus! It's unforgettable for any who played it... and while the gold box games took some criticism for not changing much, we were as much to blame as they, because we loved this stuff. The games would go on from here, perfecting themselves in some ways, sadly, they were always a bit hindered by their insistence of staying true to the real D&D rules rather than adapting them for good computer play... Why does it take two weeks to heal through rest?! Might and Magic? 8 hours... But this first game lacks many features others would include... But it's still 5 stars in my book. It was the first, it innovated, and, from the Amiga perspective, it shined. This is by far the most impressive version of the game in looks and sound. An absolute must own, one of the best games ever made for any system as well as the Amiga... Yet... Have any of you ever seen it featured in a best of Amiga games video or list? No, you have not... and it's a damn shame... I bet 75% of the online Amiga world doesn't even have a clue this game was ever made... Glad it's featured here.
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