The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 1: The Dark Spire

By Danny Butler

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) — Some of the greatest video games in existence sometimes end up falling through the cracks upon their release. Bad marketing, horrific box art or radical game play styles often doom these titles to a life of obscurity.

My mission is to find these titles and find out what made them fail. Most of these games can be found in bargain bins or in used games stores for $15 or less, and none of the titles ever eclipsed 10,000 units in sales. The first title I have found is a delightful game called The Dark Spire published by Atlus. Atlus, one of the kings of the obscure gaming market, consistently publishes extremely challenging and in-depth titles.

The Dark Spire does not disappoint on this front. Drawing heavily from titles such as Wizardry or Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire allows players to create their own team of adventurer to explore a massive, mysterious tower filled with thieves, witches and monsters.

The Dark Spire, published By Atlus

The Dark Spire, published By Atlus

The game, which sold around 30,000 units , has a high difficulty curve which turned some people away. Players pretty much have to save every couple of steps in order to secure their safety, but since the game is structured like on old school adventure game, much like you would see on the Atari 2600, this mechanic helps give the game its unique charm and challenge.

The adventure is very long and engaging with a ton of side-quest and a huge gamut of enemies. The game also comes with the soundtrack if you can find a new copy, which in most cases has dropped down to $10.

My special guest archivist this week is James Webb, a senior from Maryville, TN, who said he was very impressed by The Dark Spire.

“I thought the game was great,” he said. “The similarities between this and Wizardry really drew me in, plus the difficulty and length of the game play is sure to make The Dark Spire an instant hit with dungeon crawler fans.”

The game includes an option which allows for players to either play the game in two different styles: Modern and “retro.” Retro features almost no color and the environment is all in a “wire-frame” type design, while modern offers plays to explore the dungeon in “lush” 3-D graphics

Check out these great clips of gameplay footage