Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first entry into computer role-playing games, 1988s Pool of Radiance, may have been released before traditional modding came about, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain modifications and companion apps that will help make your journey through the past a less tedious one. Here are three I can’t recommend highly enough.
Released in 1988 by Strategic Simulations Inc., Pool of Radiance was a marvel to behold at the time garnering high marks from many publications and even winning the Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1988 at the Origins Award joining the likes of Sid Meier’s Pirates.
Unfortunately today, even if you are used to the graphics and controls of older games of this genre, the game mechanics and sound design can leave a lot to be desired. However, don’t let that prevent you from playing this wonderful classic!
I have compiled a short list of three simple “must haves” that will make you Pool of Radiance experience much better.
1. GOLD BOX COMPANION
|Gold Box Companion – a must have to play these older games.|
Gold Box Companion is an absolute must-have companion app for not only Pool of Radiance, but all of the Gold Box games that gives you a ton of added functionality and takes away a lot of the tedium that comes with playing older games like these.
Normally in Pool of Radiance you can only see your characters hit points, experience, buffs and afflictions when you slog through various screens that seemingly want you to get lost in their perplexity. With the GBC you can see all that information through an added HUD above the DOSBox window.
Tired of getting lost or writing your own maps or constantly trying to follow along in the cluebook? GBC gives you an attached Automap that shows your real-time location so you will never get lost. It starts blank so you can fill it out as you explore, or click to have the computer complete it so you know where you are headed. You can also add notes on the map so you’ll never lose those secret doors, teleporters and other items ever again.
I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet! Normally in PoR to heal a character you would have to set up camp and have your cleric memorize the one heal spell the game has and, upon waking cast the spell hoping to heal him/her high enough to carry on. Then you would have to sleep and memorize the spells again. That is, of course, if you didn’t get interrupted while sleeping which you are almost sure to have happen.
GBC allows you to quickly heal up all members of your party at any time allowing you to actually play and enjoy the game. You can also store and restore spells that you have already memorized making that process a walk in the park.
Power users are able to jump into the character editor to tweak each individual character stats and even swap them to the unreleased (but in the code) paladin and ranger classes and so much more.
I have the GOG versions of all the Gold Box Games and it works without any issues. Oh, and it’s absolutely free to download and use; however, donations are highly encouraged for all the brilliant work that went into this wonderful program!
2. TANDY SOUND EFFECTS
The sound effects that are turned on (at least in the GOG versions) are not very good. I know the game is over 30 years old, but simple PC beeps and bumps don’t really pull you into the game and get your heart racing. The good news is there are better sound effects in the game, they just need to be turned on!
By following simple instructions by Kirben on the GOG forums, you are able to turn on the built in Tandy sound effects which are light-years better than the standard sound effects.
Your ears will thank you!
3. ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Apparently music was, for whatever reason, disabled in version 1.3 of Pool of Radiance and that just so happens to be the version that GOG uses and it doesn’t look like there’s a way to currently get it back in game. However, it’s not a complete loss.
The Video Game Music website has the entire original Pool of Radiance soundtrack (and many, many others) available for download for the PC-9801, Amiga and NES versions of the game so go download them to play in your favorite program or play them directly from the website’s music player.
It’s a little tedious to have to manually swap the music each time you enter into a different scene (combat, dungeon, wilderness, city, etc.), but you can set the songs on repeat and I have to say there’s no feeling quite like playing a 1988 classic with glorious Tandy sound effects and rocking out to the original soundtrack
THERE IT IS!
That’s all I got for you but honestly there isn’t much more that you should need! I’m positive these three simple modifications will help make your experience with Pool of Radiance much more enjoyable because they did just that for me.
If you haven’t picked up any of the Dungeons & Dragons games like Pool of Radiance, GOG has all the collections available and almost always for ridiculous prices. Please consider using my affiliate link to help my website and channel!