Dragon Wars

Dragon Wars
Dragon Wars
Dragon Wars
Box art
Developer(s) Interplay Entertainment
Kemco (NES Version)
Publisher(s) Activision
Designer(s) Interplay
Engine enhanced version of The Bard's Tale game engine
Platform(s) Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIGS, C64, Nintendo Family Computer, Tandy and DOS, NEC PC-9801
Release date(s)
  • JP August 9, 1991
  • NA 1989
  • EU 1989
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single-player
Media/distribution Floppy disk

Dragon Wars is a fantasy computer role-playing game developed by Interplay Entertainment in 1989, and distributed by Activision.



The story from the back of the original box:

The designers of the Bard's Tale series, Wasteland, and Battle Chess pooled their talents to create the ultimate role-playing fantasy. They knew it had to be a first-rate story with sophisticated graphics. The result was Dragon Wars.

Sailing across uncharted seas, you and your party are in search of a legendary paradise called Dilmun — a place where the streets are paved with gold and no one wants for anything.

However, King Drake of Phoebus has declared all magic illegal - magickers have been slain or fled into exile. In retaliation, enemy islands have threatened to unleash their guardian dragons, the most destructive force in the world. While docked at a harbor in Dilmun, you are arrested on suspicion of spellcasting.

Imprisoned and stripped of everything but your wits, you are sentenced to life in a cesspool called Purgatory. Magic is your only salvation - a worldly possession in a world possessed.


During the initial design process for Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate, one of the designers came up with a list of enhancements and improvements for the game. With the possibility that Interplay would soon be parting ways with Electronic Arts, it was decided to save these for a future game and stick closer to the original engine[citation needed], though the auto-mapping feature did make it into Bard's Tale III.

These design improvements came in this next game, Dragon Wars.[citation needed] In essence, the game was a fusion of Bard's Tale and design philosophy pioneered in Wasteland. Until a month before release the game was developed as "Bard's Tale IV".[1] However, the rights to this title were still held by Electronic Arts, and thus a new title and setting were needed for the game. It was derived in part from the Sumerian legends of Gilgamesh, with the chief villain of the game being named Namtar. Since to this point the game didn't feature any dragons, the new title meant that Heineman had to add one.[1]

The designers all felt it was a better game than Bard's Tale III, and indeed, better than any of the Bard's Tale series, but without the tie-in to the old title and without Electronic Arts's marketing muscle, the game did not fare as well.[citation needed]


The game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #152 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[2] The game was given a positive review in Computer Gaming World, noting improvements over the Bard's Tale series, saying that, "Tighter design, attention to detail, balanced combat, and a carefully constructed plotline all combine to produce a CRPG well worth playing."[3]

Starting Characters

The player starts the game with a party of four characters, who can be either the default characters or ones created by the player. During the game, the seven character slots can be filled with any combination of the starting characters, recruited characters, and summoned creatures.


Several non-player characters names in the game when identified with reversed spelling/semordnilap have additional meaning. Whether or not these names were chosen intentionally or purely coincidental remains unconfirmed. Some of these identified names are:

  • Namtar (Primary Antagonist) = Ratman
  • Lanac'toor (Wizard) = Root Canal

Importable Characters

The player may import previously made characters from Tales of the Unknown: Volume I - The Bard's Tale and The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight into Dragon Wars. Transferring characters will delete the (only) previously saved game (if any). Executing the file dwtran.com will transfer characters.


  1. ^ a b Rebecca Heineman Interview. Digit Press, 2006.
  2. ^ Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (December 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (152): 64–70. 
  3. ^ Scorpia (December 1989). "Review: Interplay's Dragon Wars". Computer Gaming World: pp. 40, 89–90, 93 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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