And it’s all Presto’s fault ;) Over in Essential RPGS?, he commented that Wizardry and Ultima III were the first to have the party (rather than solo) system of play. Wizardry I could agree with. But U3? Surely between those two there had been others.

First, I consulted my back issues of CGW, and had a shock. There were very few CRPGs at that time. I reviewed Ultima III in the December 1983 issue. The game ratings page showed only eight titles that were CRPG, and some of those (like the original Wizardry and Telengard) were not exactly new.

Then I hauled out my binders of old manuals. Really old, since they’re for Apple games, most of which I don’t have any more. I couldn’t find anything there, either, for the period between Wizardry I and Ultima III.

Except, perhaps, Apventure To Atlantis, with a copyright date of 1980. The question, of course, is: was it a CRPG? In some ways, yes. You recruited mercenaries, and they had stats.

There was also the matter of alignment, whether you (or you and your army) were good or evil. This naturally depended on how you behaved during the game.

On the other hand, as I vaguely recall, fighting was not an individual matter, but handled somehow by computer. This only makes sense, since you started with nine in the group, and added to it along the way.

If we count Apventure as a CRPG, it may even pre-date Wizardry. But even if not, it’s a sobering thought that there were so few games in this genre early on, and fewer yet that had parties.

It was in the mid-late 80s that the big rush came in, and adventure games – of which there were many – began to dwindle. In thinking it over, I suspect the market was already beginning to change.

As the computer spread into more homes, a younger generation was getting into gaming, and youth is always impatient. It’s much more fun to bash monsters than work out some obscure puzzle. Faster, too.

But I digress. In any case, this showed me that the past is never what you thought it was. And that sometimes, Presto is right ;)