Dragon Bane is a sophisticated role-playing game (RPG) that drops you into a 3D world of danger and adventure. You begin playing by establishing what characters you would like to have in your exploration party and you then take them through many adventures building their collective experiences up to where they can take on their ultimate foe. Along the way you will explore the land, its towns, and areas below. You will solve puzzles and defeat Evil.
There's also a good chance you'll get behind in real work as you sneak in a little extra game playing time!
I wouldn't be the first person to compare playing Dragon Bane on a Palm to Electronic Arts' Bards Tale, which I originally played on an Amiga 1000. There are many basic similarities, yet Dragon Bane manages to do all of its magic in about 200K of memory. Dragon Bane allows you five player-chosen character slots. The characters all come from built-in categories and have specific abilities and powers. Some of the characters are fighters and some are magicians. Some traits overlap a bit.
The depth of the game is like nothing else you will have encountered on the Palm to date. The environments are varied, the monsters and characters you encounter are many, and your characters actually grow and develop as you play the game. You'll find new objects, new potions, and new puzzles at every stage of the game.
As in all RPGs, you're on a quest. Naturally the bad guys have overrun your homelands and you and your band are out to save the day. You may even have to fight a dragon or two. In this case you're heading for a dust-up with the dragon Kra'an and in the meantime you'll deal with his followers who are called Kra'a.
Dragon Bane starts off in the capital city Treleon. Compared to other cities this is a fairly calm town, but you'll have your share of battles. Fortunately most are survivable, and when they're not, a trip to the local temple can revive your mostly dead team. You'll need to build up a supply of gold, so don't forget to sell those excess weapons at the local shoppe.
Once you're reasonably familiar with how to play the game you might venture out into the countryside. It's pretty dangerous initially, but not much more so than Treleon. There is a nearby dungeon that you're recommended to visit. Once you're in the dungeon, you better have a Wizard in your party in order to quickly get you teleported back to Treleon as necessary. Originally I made the mistake of not including a Wizard and had to drop a spare character to make up for it.
If you get into trouble, remember to use your Save Game feature so you can restore your party to a time before you decided to, say, take on all of those surprisingly powerful dwarves, for example. I also discovered this is a handy tool to use to escape from areas your party wasn't quite strong enough to survive. This is a bit of a cheat, but when my characters got into trouble in Lasingham I just started saving every so often, then restoring back and trying over when things got too sticky for my crew.
As your party gets more advanced in their levels you might also have your Thief character cast a 'Show Map' spell when entering new territory to get an advance peek at the terrain. Doing this shortly before teleporting back to Treleon is useful since the Temple there can restore the spell points used up by this powerful spell.
In a gaming environment this rich and tricky there will be lots of tricks and tips you'll need to learn and share with others. Palm Creations has chat areas on their web site, http://www.palmcreations.com, that you'll want to become familiar with. These areas serve as a meeting place for players to exchange valuable information with each other.
I have only a few negatives to note about Dragon Bane. I should say that none of these affected my overall enjoyment of the game.
It would be nice if the game informed you in some way what time of day it was during game play. It's not absolutely necessary but it would be nice since if you return back to a city during the night, you can sleep off some of your battle damage and get back some hit points for the price of a good rest.
I also wish the game used sound a little more-even if just to give audible feedback to selecting certain options. Some of the options might work better if they were shown as buttons. Dragon Bane is one of the first Palm games to offer enough depth of play that you would easily buy it as a commercial product. It's well thought out and well executed. Dragon Bane feels like a larger and more developed product that brings more than just Gameboy level gaming to the Palm. I feel like I've stuffed that old Amiga 1000 into my pocket along with my Bards Tale disk set. Even if you're only marginally interested in the RPG game genre, Dragon Bane is a must have! US$49.95
The Authors of Dragon Bane
The following is a short interview is with Gabe Dalbec, President of Palm Creations the company that created Dragon Bane.
PCM: Whom do we offer thanks to for Dragon Bane?
Dalbec: Thank our wives and thank our beta testing team members, who were a HUGE help. Thanks also to Power Media who will be handling retail sales and marketing.
PCM: How did Dragon Bane come to be?
Dalbec: Basically, we have always liked 3-D dungeon games (Bards Tale, Dungeon Master) and we started developing one on the Amiga in about 1989. That never materialized into a product, but we learned a lot while working on it and that transferred over to Dragon Bane. In December 1997, we decided it would be fun to work together on a new project. We chose the Palm platform because it looked like an interesting platform with a viable market. What interested us the most is the fact that it basically has the same CPU as our old Amiga computers, but you can carry it in your pocket.
PCM: Where did the basic idea come from?
Dalbec: Two people did literally all the development for Dragon Bane. Anyone with a background of programming and knowledge of games over the past decade can easily come up with a winning game. Just think about what was popular over the last 10 years and choose something that would work nicely on the Palm. Dragon Bane combines or improves on elements from several successful RPG games.
PCM: How will you be marketing Dragon Bane?
Dalbec: Palm Creations will be doing all online marketing and sales. Power Media, Inc. has licensed Dragon Bane from us, and will be doing retail sales and marketing. Visit their site at http://www.powermedia.com
PCM: How well have your sales been? Are they up to your expectations?
Dalbec: Sales and reaction have been very good. It is our first product for the Palm, so we didn't really have any expectations...
PCM: What did you like best about developing for the Palm?
Dalbec: I really like the fact that we have to write small efficient code and it is a challenge to see how far we can push this great platform.
PCM: What else do we have to look forward to from Palm Creations?
Dalbec: We are planning a second game based on the Dragon Bane engine (plus improvements). Around the same time, we will be releasing a level editor that will allow users to create their own levels, characters, monsters, items and everything else that the engine supports. No time frame set on this yet, but we have started working on it!
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