Thursday, April 25, 2013

Old yet Fun Games: Stronghold (1993)

Yes, Stronghold, the one from Strategic Simulations, Inc. No relation to the other game series with the same name. Stronghold is a kingdom building simulation set in a randomly generated D&D-style world. As this was from back in ye olde day when D&D and AD&D were separate things, the choices of 'class' were very fun: Mages, Clerics, Thieves, Fighters, Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings. That's right, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings were racial character classes in D&D for those who do not know.

Stronghold was a 2.5D game. When viewing each tile you would see a 2D bit of art for each building, and whatever units were milling abound on the screen. You had a limited amount of space thus in each individual map segment to work with, and resource management was very very important. Of course one could just play Elves and grow a forest to put Lothlórien to shame, but that is a story for another day.

The game was difficult to manage, as you had to go visit each and every segment of the map to upgrade and meddle with the buildings. However the game also had its good points. There were multiple paths to victory against the AI opponent, either through force of arms or just building till the map could not hold in the awesomeness of your empire anymore.

The 3D triangular graphics for the landscape were good enough for its time, but I am still fond of the other aspects of the art; specifically the buildings themselves.

Alas the game has not aged well, I am not certain how many people would be willing to spend the time to meddle with the clunky interface. However others may find a hidden gem in this title, if they can muster up the courage to give it a whirl.

Why is this game important? While it never got a sequel, in my opinion it did have an influence on games of this type that were to follow. It was one of the first games that I recall where a player chould shift the focus of their resource management between three different options (Building, Training and Recruiting). It was damn addictive back in the day and I have many fond memories of playing it into the wee hours of the night.

Take of this what you will.