Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Jan 22nd 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Point and Click, dos, pc, gog, microprose


Dragonsphere is a point and click adventure game published by MicroProse and developed by their internal development studio MPS Labs. This internal team at MicroProse had developed two point and click adventure games prior, Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender and Return of the Phantom. Dragonsphere would release as MicroProse's third, and final, internally developed point and click adventure game. Dragonsphere was developed for MS-DOS and would release in 1994. Much later in history the game would be put under a new spotlight when it was released as a permanently free game through CD Projekt's Good Old Games digital store in 2011.




The world of Dragonsphere comes across as a fairly typical classic fantasy world, but it has some interesting world design traits that stand out from the standard fare. The game's fantasy setting can come across as generic and cheesy to any modern player, but it also represents an era of fantasy world design that time has largely moved on from, and as such feels largely nostalgic and comforting for those who grew up during and before the game's release. Players begin the game by playing as King Callash of Gran Callahach right as a prophecy regarding the reawakening of an imprisoned sorceror named Sanwe begins to come true. The King takes on the task of either killing or re-sealing Sanwe who was imprisoned by his father twenty years beforehand. In order to do so he must visit the varied lands and strange inhabitants of his kingdom, the fairies, shapechangers, and soptus ecliptus.

Dragonsphere's gameplay is nothing new or revolutionary to point and click fans. It came out during the tail end of the point and click's golden era, and it feels like it. Puzzles are not extremely difficult and can be quite easily beaten with brute force without wasting too much time. Players can interact with items and the world in a myriad of different ways, but in usual point and click fashion, most will not work beyond giving a window detailing the futility or failure of the action. The interface in the game is very similar to most other point and clicks of the era, being inspired by Lucasarts and their extremely well used and popular SCUMM engine. However, MicroProse had developed its own engine for their point and clicks called the MicroProse Adventure Development System.


The game looks incredibly good for its time, and the animation is rotoscoped which helps it look buttery smooth. Watching the game's now archaic cutscenes actually ends up being quite enjoyable largely due to how well done the character animations are. While the graphics are wonderful the audio is almost the complete opposite. The music and sound effects in each area are quite good and largely fit in with the game's world. In fact, using or emulating the Roland MT-32 for the game's audio sounds amazing. However, the game and its well animated characters and scenes are plagued by terrible voice acting. In fact, most of the voice acting is so bad that it comes across as the actual development team doing the voices, and that's partially true. The main designer and writer Douglas Kaufman is credited with the voice of MacMorn, King Callash's brother. Some of the other development team is also credited with voice work, such as Matt Gruson the producer and engine designer, Jack Miller, who did a lot of sound work for the game, Michael Gibson, the lead artist, and most of the quality assurance team.

Dragonsphere is a pretty good classic era point and click overall, despite its weaknesses and odd casting decisions. Like many of its genre its fairly short and can be finished up in around 5 or 6 hours for a first playthrough. Dragonsphere was highly praised by critics during its release window, with critics praising its graphics, animation, and the unique spins to the typical fantasy world design. The story also has some unmentioned twists that help keep players invested in the shifting narrative. The game has been available for free on GOG for nearly a decade so there is no reason to skip this one if you're a point and click fan. Dragonsphere's nonexistent cost of entry also provides an enticing entry point for players unfamiliar with older point and click adventures that are curious about how the genre plays at a more basic level.




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