While most people think the era of the BBS has come and gone, nothing can be farther from the truth.. Although most dial-up BBSes have died out and there are no more local BBSes in my area (Cornwall, Ontario, Canada), the rise of the Internet has allowed a new breed of BBS to rise from the ashes. These new BBSes, generally Telnet-based, can bring back nostalgic memories of chatting, downloading files, and playing BBS doors in a small town community for hours on end. Best of all, since Telnet runs off an Internet connection, there are no long distance fees, far more available nodes (phone lines) and far more people to play with. In addition, connecting to BBSes now requires a simple Telnet client (although I recommend not using the one that comes with Win9x and downloading a better one online instead) rather than archaic, cumbersome DOS and Windows 3.1 Dial-up clients.
The biggest driving force beyond the continued survival and evolution of the BBS is a simple, yet ingenious multiplayer RPG called Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD).
LORD was created during the heyday of dial-up BBSes by a man by the name of Seth Able Robinson (Usually known simply as Seth Able), who programmed it, and it's less addictive sequel Lord II, until 1997, when the games were bought by a called Metropolis Gameport (MG) which can be found at www.gameport.com
. MG has not been overly faithful in updating LORD, but has created a special multi-node version, Wildcat-Tournament Lord (WT-LORD), which is so similar to LORD that the differences are too insignificant for the scope of this review and pertain to technical issues more so than gameplay issues.
Gameplay (11!!): Simple is beautiful. LORD has outlasted many other BBS games for this very reason. When playing LORD for the first time, one starts off by creating a character, either a Mage, a Deathknight or a Thief. Except for special abilities, which serve mainly to add more flavour to the different classes, and the thief's ability to steal a laughable amount of goal from the bank, class has no bearing on the game whatsoever. It is also possible to change classes within the game as many times as one wishes, and abilities are retained from one's previous classes.
After creating a character, the gamer is immediately thrust into a generic town being terrorized by the Red Dragon. Each player has the goal of killing the Red Dragon by advancing to Level 12, and finding him in the forest. In order to gain levels, one must go to the forest to fight monsters, kill a few players or use IGMs (more on those later). Fortunately, there is nothing stopping one from staying at Level 12 forever and goofing around as a veritable Demi-God. Killing the Red Dragon resets one's character to Level 1 and all possessions are lost expect for Charm, Horses, Fairies and Children.
Of course, there is a lot more to this game than simply fighting the Red Dragon. LORD contains countless ways for players to interact with one another. Marriage and fighting are two such ways, but creative players, Sysops and IGM developers will come up with a myriad of other ways. Exploring the town introduces the player to its flavourful NPC citizens. Among them are Violet the Barmaid, Seth Able the Bard, and the masters, who must be defeated in order to gain levels. It is even possible get laid, although nothing TOO nasty ever happens, as many children play this game.
Of course, Seth Able did not want to restrict LORDís outstanding gameplay to a single town, so he allows people to create In Game Modules (IGMs) that allow the game to be expanded upn. These IGMs add a plethora of possibilities to LORD and can greatly increase the fun of the game by allowing players to do things to themselves and each other that would not be possible in LORD. IGMs can range from something as simple as asking a fan-made NPC for stat boosts, to something as elaborate as ''suburbs'' of the LORD town with even more to do than LORD itself. One can easily spend their entire allotted daily BBS time (most BBSes set limits) just playing around in the IGMs. IGMs also reward skilful, adventurous players by giving them a huge edge over those who are less skilled. For example, on one local BBS I used to frequent, I was able to make my character ''perfect'' in a single day by exploiting various bugs and secrets within the IGMs (although I admit this is taking it to ridiculous extremes).
Story (10): The basic premise of the story has already been explained in the gameplay section of my review, but what makes LORDís story ingenious is how it so easily allows itself to be expanded upon through the use of character interaction and IGM. The ridiculously simple premise is perfect for LORD, and as such, deserves a perfect score.
Challenge (10): LORD is not easy or hard per say. There is no real way to truly ''win'' (Actually, that isn't entirely true, but it has ALMOST NEVER been done), but nor is there any to truly ''lose''. LORD goes on forever, or until the Sysop resets the game and starts from scratch or God forbid a player actually gets the set number of Heroic Deeds and actually ''wins'' the game. This is the perfect level of challenge for LORD.
Graphics (n/a): The graphics use primitive ANSI terminal colour, which does the job and has a few nice colours and pictures; however, the graphic met to be functional rather than flashy. As such, they will not be rated.
Sound/Music (n/a): C'mon people, it's a BBS game.
Replay (Infinite): Due to its premise and design, LORD will always be enjoyable after the 2 or so nanoseconds it takes to hook you. It is only limited by the imagination of the people who play and the Turbo Pascal wizards who code the IGMs.
-Simple, addictive gameplay
-Fairly risque but not too over-the-top
-Outstanding player interaction
-As challenging as players are willing to make it
-It never has to end
-Unlimited replay value
-Interface is hard to use with standard Windows Telnet
Client (Not really the game's fault)
-Still coded exclusively in 16-Bit
-No real updates since Seth Able sold it to Gameport
-One of the first massively multi-player games
-Partially responsible for the early 90s popularity of BBSes
-Possibly the greatest BBS Door of all time
-Main reason for the resurrection of BBSes (in Telnet form)
Judgement Day (10++++++++++): LORD is quite possibly the closest thing to a perfect game ever created. It is a simple and addictive BBS Door RPG with unlimited replay value. I don't know what Seth Able was smoking when he created this masterpiece, but whatever the devil it was, he better start smoking a helluva lot more of it. So please, for the love of the Red Dragon, find a good BBS to play this on if you haven't done so already or if you have given up on BBSes when the dial-ups went down.