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The SSI Gold Box games were a fondly remembered series of computer RPGs produced by SSI, based on the Dungeons and Dragons license. They were not the first D&D licensed games, but they were the first to appear in the 16 bit era, when home computers got sophisticated enough to implement substantial chunks of the game system. Their name comes from the distinctive gold-colored cardboard box that most of them came in.
The games were based on variations of the same engine and took place in a first person dungeon/city (with some games having an overworld map). Battles were turn-based and happened on a square grid.
The games were collected at various times, the most recent being the Forgotten Realms Archives in 1997, which includes the five Pool of Radiance games and the two main Savage Frontier games, along with other Forgotten Realms-based games. Playing them on modern computers generally requires DOS Box or other emulation software.
Games in the series include:
- Pool of Radiance series:
- Pool Of Radiance (the original version) (1988)
- Hillsfar (a spinoff used to boost character stats)
- Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989)
- Secret of the Silver Blades (1990)
- Pools of Darkness (1991)
- Savage Frontier series:
- Gateway to the Savage Frontier (1991)
- Treasures of the Savage Frontier (1992)
- Neverwinter Nights (the original version, not that one) (1991)
- Dragonlance series:
- Champions of Krynn (1990)
- Death Knights of Krynn (1991)
- The Dark Queen of Krynn (1992)
- Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (1992)
- Buck Rogers series: (Lorraine Williams, owner of TSR at the time, inherited the rights to Buck Rogers, leading to a lot of promotion of Buck Rogers-based TSR products)
- Countdown to Doomsday (1990)
- Matrix Cubed (1992)
- And Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures (1993), which is a Game Maker to create games in this style.
Tropes in these games include:
- Artificial Stupidity
- Bag of Spilling: Justified in Curse of the Azure Bonds by the villains ambushing and stealing your equipment, and then in Secret of the Silver Blades, the villagers summon you, but forget to summon your equipment.
- Body Surf: Pool of Radiance villian
- Bonus Dungeon: The Shrine of the Dark Queen in Death Knights of Krynn; and "Dave's Maze" in Pools of Darkness. Ye gods, Dave's Maze.
- Character Level
- Copy Protection - not only required you to state a word on the codewheel, but also to translate in-game texts. It also involved looking entries in a journal that contains Red Herrings if you try reading it without playing the game.
- Dragon Their Feet: If you kill Dracandros but didn't defeat the Dracolich, he will attack you soon after leaving the village.
- Extended Gameplay
- Faux First Person 3D
- Guide Dang It (especially when obscure D&D game rules were involved, like the formula for controlling a Sphere of Annihilation or the fact that you need to take 30 days to use a stat-raising Manual)
- Which led to some Good Bad Bugs - for example, in the 1e D&D rules only clerics or magic-users could control a Sphere of Annihilation. If you choose to use a different class in the part of the game where you challenge an enemy wizard to control a sphere, the computer won't know how to handle it and continually pushes the sphere against the wizard, much to his sorrow.
- It's Up to You
- Mission Pack Sequel
- Old Save Bonus (advancing your character through the various Pool of Radiance games, for instance)
- Only Mostly Dead
- Role Playing Game
- Wutai Theft