Menzoberranzan (video game)

Last updated
Menzoberranzan Coverart.png
Developer(s) DreamForge Intertainment
Publisher(s) Strategic Simulations
Designer(s) John McGirk
Programmer(s) Don Wuenschell
Artist(s) Jane Yeager
Frank Schurter
Composer(s) Jamie McMenamy
Platform(s) MS-DOS, PC-98, FM Towns
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Menzoberranzan is a 1994 role-playing video game created by Strategic Simulations (SSI) and DreamForge Intertainment. Menzoberranzan uses the same game engine as SSI's previous game, Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession (1994), and is set in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Strategic Simulations Video game developer

Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was a video game developer and publisher with over 100 titles to its credit since its founding in 1979. The company was especially noted for its numerous wargames, its official computer game adaptations of Dungeons & Dragons, and for the groundbreaking Panzer General series.

DreamForge Intertainment, Inc. was an American computer game developer.



Menzoberranzan, an underground city populated by the Drow, had been introduced in the game materials two years earlier in December 1992 in a three-book box set called Menzoberranzan: The Famed City of the Drow by Ed Greenwood, R. A. Salvatore, and Douglas Niles. [1] The game also features Drizzt Do'Urden as one of the main characters. [2]

Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, is a fictional city-state in the world of the Forgotten Realms, a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting. It is located in the Upper Northdark, about two miles below the Surbrin Vale, between the Moonwood and the Frost Hills. It is famed as the birthplace of Drizzt Do'Urden, the protagonist of several series of best-selling novels by noted fantasy author R. A. Salvatore.

Ed Greenwood Canadian writer

Ed Greenwood is a Canadian-born fantasy writer and the original creator of the Forgotten Realms game world. He began writing articles about the Forgotten Realms for Dragon magazine beginning in 1979, and subsequently sold the rights to the setting to TSR, the creators of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, in 1986. He has written many Forgotten Realms novels, as well as numerous articles and D&D game supplement books.

R. A. Salvatore American writer

Robert Anthony Salvatore is an American author best known for The DemonWars Saga, his Forgotten Realms novels, for which he created the popular character Drizzt Do'Urden, and Vector Prime, the first novel in the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series. He has sold more than 15 million copies of his books in the United States alone and twenty-two of his titles have been New York Times best-sellers.


The game has elements of Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (3d world and real-time action)[ citation needed ] and its game concept is somewhat similar to Westwood's Eye of the Beholder series. [3] The player initially creates two player characters (PCs) and can acquire non-player character (NPC) allies later in the game. [2]

<i>Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss</i> 1993 video game

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss is a first-person role-playing video game (RPG) developed by Blue Sky Productions and published by Origin Systems. Released in March 1992, the game is set in the fantasy world of the Ultima series. It takes place inside the Great Stygian Abyss: a large cave system that contains the remnants of a failed utopian civilization. The player assumes the role of the Avatar—the Ultima series' protagonist—and attempts to find and rescue a baron's kidnapped daughter.

<i>Eye of the Beholder</i> (video game) 1990 video game

Eye of the Beholder is a role-playing video game for personal computers and video game consoles developed by Westwood Associates. It was published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in 1991 for the DOS operating system and later ported to the Amiga, the Sega CD and the SNES. The Sega CD version features a soundtrack composed by Yuzo Koshiro. A port to the Atari Lynx handheld was developed by NuFX in 1993, but was not released. In 2002 the game was an adaptation of the same name was developed by Pronto Games for the Game Boy Advance.


Menzoberranzan was published in 1994 by Strategic Simulations.

The game was later included in the 1996 compilation set, the AD&D Masterpiece Collection . [4]

<i>AD&D Masterpiece Collection</i>

The AD&D Masterpiece Collection is a collection of roleplaying games for Microsoft Windows, produced by Mindscape/SSI in 1996.

On August 20, 2015, game distributor released the PC version of the game along with several other Gold Box titles. [5] computer game sale and distribution service is a digital distribution platform for video games and films. It is operated by GOG Sp. z o.o., a wholly owned subsidiary of CD Projekt based in Warsaw, Poland. delivers DRM-free video games through its digital platform for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux. In March 2012, it began selling more recent titles such as Alan Wake, Assassin's Creed and the Metro Redux series, among many others.

Gold Box video game series and game engine

Gold Box is a series of role-playing video games produced by SSI from 1988 to 1992. The company acquired a license to produce games based on the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game from TSR, Inc. These games shared a common engine that came to be known as the "Gold Box Engine" after the gold-colored boxes in which most games of the series were sold.

Critical reception

Review scores
Next Generation Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [3]
PC Gamer (US) 85% [6]
PC Zone 68 out of 100 [7]
Electronic Entertainment Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [8]
CD-ROM Today Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [9]

In Computer Gaming World , Scorpia wrote, "Overall, Menzoberranzan is a disappointment. It has some nice features, but nice features must be supported by a strong story. Sadly, what could have been a superior entry in the CRPG field comes off as just another hack-n-slash product". [10] Andrew Wright of PC Zone considered it "a case of dumb dungeoneering stylishly put together", and stated that it "tries to be Ultima Underworld and fails miserably." He offered praise to its graphics and interface. [7]

A reviewer for Next Generation gave the game 3 out of 5 stars, remarking that the high-resolution graphics have a "painting-like quality" and that the gameplay is authentic to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons franchise. [3] T. Liam McDonald of PC Gamer US called Menzoberranzan the best Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game ever released, and praised its graphics and story. However, he complained that it is "combat oriented in early levels and takes its sweet time getting to the narrative elements." [6]

In Electronic Entertainment , Al Giovetti summarized the game as "high-quality role-playing meets fast-paced first-person exploration and spectacular real-time combat", and he believed that it was "a sure bet to please role players." [8] Ian Cole from the Quandaryland website awarded the game 3.5 stars out 5. He was critical of the slowness of the game compared to Ravenloft and that "too many places were empty — just nothing". He praises that this was not a typical hack and slash game with a lot of character's statistics and puzzle solving. [11] John Terra of Computer Shopper said the game "stands out" and called it a "must-have". [2]

According to Allen Rausch of GameSpy, "without a great plot and exciting monsters that truly utilized its spectacular setting, Menzoberranzan ended up being less impressive than it was in players' imaginations". [12]

Related Research Articles

<i>Pool of Radiance</i> 1988 video game

Pool of Radiance is a role-playing video game developed and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc (SSI) in 1988. It was the first adaptation of TSR's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) fantasy role-playing game for home computers, becoming the first episode in a four-part series of D&D computer adventure games. The other games in the "Gold Box" series used the game engine pioneered in Pool of Radiance, as did later D&D titles such as the Neverwinter Nights online game. Pool of Radiance takes place in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting, with the action centered in and around the port city of Phlan.

Drizzt DoUrden fictional character

Drizzt Do'Urden is a fictional character in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Drizzt was created by author R. A. Salvatore as a supporting character in the Icewind Dale Trilogy. Salvatore created him on a whim when his publisher needed him to replace one of the characters in an early version of the first book, The Crystal Shard. Drizzt has since become a popular heroic character of the Forgotten Realms setting, and has been featured as the main character of a long series of books, starting chronologically with The Dark Elf Trilogy. As an atypical drow, Drizzt has forsaken both the evil ways of his people and their home in the Underdark, in the drow city of Menzoberranzan.


In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, svirfneblin, or deep gnomes, are a sub-race of gnome.

The Underdark is a fictional setting which has appeared in Dungeons & Dragons role-playing campaigns and Dungeons & Dragons-based fiction books, including the Legend of Drizzt series by R. A. Salvatore. It is described as a vast subterranean network of interconnected caverns and tunnels, stretching beneath entire continents and forming an underworld for surface settings. Polygon called it "one of D&D's most well-known realms".

<i>Pools of Darkness</i> 1991 computer role-playing game

Pools of Darkness is a role-playing video game published by Strategic Simulations in 1991. The cover art and introduction screen shows a female drow. It is the fourth entry in the Pool of Radiance series of Gold Box games, and the story is a continuation of the events after Secret of the Silver Blades. The novel loosely based on the game was released in 1992. Like the previous games in the series, it is set in the Forgotten Realms, a campaign setting from Dungeons & Dragons. Players must stop an invasion from an evil god, eventually traveling to other dimensions to confront his lieutenants.

<i>Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar</i> video game

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, first released in 1985 for the Apple II, is the fourth in the series of Ultima role-playing video games. It is the first in the "Age of Enlightenment" trilogy, shifting the series from the hack and slash, dungeon crawl gameplay of its "Age of Darkness" predecessors towards an ethically-nuanced, story-driven approach. Ultima IV has a much larger game world than its predecessors, with an overworld map sixteen times the size of Ultima III and puzzle-filled dungeon rooms to explore. Ultima IV further advances the franchise with dialog improvements, new means of travel and exploration, and world interactivity.

<i>Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny</i> 1988 video game

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988) is the fifth entry in the role-playing video game series Ultima. It is the second in the "Age of Enlightement" trilogy. The game's story take a darker turn from its predecessor Ultima IV. Britannia's king Lord British is missing, replaced by a tyrant named Lord Blackthorn. The player must navigate a totalitarian world bent on enforcing its virtues through draconian means.

<i>Dungeon Hack</i> 1993 video game

Dungeon Hack is a role-playing video game developed by DreamForge Intertainment and published by Strategic Simulations for MS-DOS and NEC PC-9801 in 1993. The game is based in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons world of Forgotten Realms.

<i>Dark Sun: Shattered Lands</i> video game

Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is a turn-based role-playing video game that takes place in the Dungeons and Dragons' campaign setting of Dark Sun. It was released for MS-DOS in a somewhat unfinished state in 1993 by Strategic Simulations, and later patched to a more workable version. It was available on both floppy disk and CD-ROM, though the CD-ROM contained no additional content and was merely used to install the game to the computer's hard drive.

<i>Champions of Krynn</i> 1990 video game

Champions of Krynn is role-playing video game, the first in a three-part series of Dragonlance Advanced Dungeons & Dragons "Gold Box" games. The game was released in 1990. The highest graphics setting supported in the MS-DOS version was EGA graphics. It also supported the Adlib sound card and either a mouse or joystick.

<i>The Dark Queen of Krynn</i> 1992 video game

The Dark Queen of Krynn is the third in a three-part series of Dragonlance Advanced Dungeons & Dragons "Gold Box" role-playing video games. The game was released in 1992.

<i>Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager</i> 1994 video game

Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager is a role-playing video game developed and published by Strategic Simulations in 1994 for the MS-DOS operating system. It is the sequel to Dark Sun: Shattered Lands. Wake of the Ravager was initially released in two boxed versions: on floppy disk and on CD-ROM, with the latter featuring digitised voice and music. It was later re-released in a CD-ROM jewel case form factor, and also as part of the AD&D Masterpiece Collection in 1996. The game was re-released in 2015 on with support for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

<i>Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall</i> 1995 video game

Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall is a 1995 action-adventure role-playing video game by Strategic Simulations, Inc. It was re-released in 2013 on

<i>Al-Qadim: The Genies Curse</i> 1994 video game

Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse is an action role-playing game for the personal computer set in the Al-Qadim campaign setting of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. The game was developed by Cyberlore Studios and published in 1994 by Strategic Simulations. The game combines role-playing game and adventure with a simplified interface; the player's character is a young corsair trying to clear his family's name, rescue his betrothed and determine who has been freeing genies from their masters. The game was released in 2015 on with support for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

<i>Ravenloft: Strahds Possession</i> 1994 video game

Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession is a 1994 fantasy role-playing video game developed by DreamForge Intertainment for Strategic Simulations, Inc. for DOS. Ravenloft: Stone Prophet is a sequel to this game.

<i>Ravenloft: Stone Prophet</i> 1995 video game

Ravenloft: Stone Prophet is a fantasy role-playing video game developed by DreamForge Intertainment for MS-DOS and published by Strategic Simulations in 1995. The game was re-released in 2015 with Windows support on

<i>DeathKeep</i> 1995 video game

DeathKeep is a 1995 video game based on the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. It was released for the 3DO console, and later converted to the PC. The game is a sequel to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Slayer.


  1. Salvatore, R. A.; Greenwood, Ed; Niles, Douglas (1992). Menzoberranzan: The Famed City of the Drow, Revealed At Last!. TSR Inc. ISBN   1-56076-460-0.
  2. 1 2 3 Terra, John (April 1, 1995), "Menzoberranzan", Computer Shopper , SX2 Media Labs, archived from the original on June 11, 2014, retrieved September 6, 2012  via  HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  3. 1 2 3 "Menzoberranzan". Next Generation . Imagine Media (3): 93. March 1995.
  4. Butcher, Andy (January 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (2): 80.
  5. Release: Forgotten Realms: The Archives -
  6. 1 2 McDonald, T. Liam (February 1995). "Menzoberranzan". PC Gamer US . Archived from the original on February 26, 2000.
  7. 1 2 Wright, Andrew (March 1995). "Menzoberranzan". PC Zone (24). 86, 87.
  8. 1 2 Giovetti, Al (March 1995). "Menzoberranzan". Electronic Entertainment (15): 67.
  9. McDonald, T. Liam (April 1995). "Menzoberranzan". CD-ROM Today . 3 (4): 95.
  10. Scorpia (February 1995). "Beware Of The Under Drow". Computer Gaming World (127): 57–60.
  11. Cole, Ian (February 1995). "Menzoberranzan". Archived from the original on March 5, 2004. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  12. Rausch, Allen (2004-08-17). "A History of D&D Video Games - Part III". Game Spy. Retrieved November 15, 2012.