When I wanted to try Pool of Radiance, the Forgotten Realms forerunner I’d been playing as a fan-made Neverwinter Nights module, I had to buy a square cardboard box that housed a handful of CDs – and navigate their arcane DRM using a paper code wheel that looked like something from a family board game.
This wasn’t 1988, but 2008. And while that might sound like a wonderful bit of retro diving, it was also completely ludicrous. Some of SSI’s ‘Gold Box’ RPGs were huge, groundbreaking hits on the PC, but you could scarcely get hold of them legally.
No longer! GOG have done their thing, and dusted off Forgotten Realms: The Archives – a three-part collection of all the pre-Baldur’s Gate games set in D&D’s most popular universe.
Here’s how they’re split:
- Forgotten Realms: The Archives – Collection One (featuring Eye of the Beholder I, II, III)
- Forgotten Realms: The Archives – Collection Two (featuring Curse of the Azure Bonds, Gateway to the Savage Frontier, Hillsfar, Pools of Darkness, Pool of Radiance, Secret of the Silver Blades, Treasures of the Savage Frontier, D&D: Unlimited Adventures)
- Forgotten Realms: The Archives – Collection Three (featuring Dungeon Hack and Menzoberranzan)
“The quest for Forgotten Realms: The Archives was a gruelling, perilous journey,” recounted GOG VP of business development Oleg Klapovsky. “The rights were literally scattered across the world, and even with the aid of our trusted companions it took several years of searching and dead ends to round them all up.”
The unusually lovely press release also contains a quote from chuffed SSI designer David Shelley.
“These games gave players truly deep and innovative RPGs, while allowing me to master design skills I still apply today,” he remembered. “Being able to work with those rules and settings, trying to makes the games authentic, was a real joy.”
“Our attention to deep systems for tactical combat and exploration really shines through,” added SSI lead engineer Paul Murray, somewhat immodestly. “These games excel at recreating the D&D tabletop experience.”
GOG reckon they’ve now got 20 years of D&D covered. As such, they’re up to 80% off on the likes of Planescape, Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter for the rest of the week. Any fond memories for these never-forgotten CRPGs?