Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of the Lance

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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons:
Heroes of the Lance
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Heroes of the Lance Cover.png
NES box art by Jeff Easley
Developer(s)U.S. Gold
Natsume (NES)[1]
Publisher(s)Strategic Simulations
U.S. Gold
Pony Canyon (NES)
Composer(s)Brian Howarth
Iku Mizutani (NES)
Seiji Toda (MSX/NES)
Platform(s)Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, C64, FM Towns, MS-DOS, MSX2, NEC PC-8801, 9801, NES, Master System, ZX Spectrum
ReleaseJanuary 1988
  • NA: January, 1991
  • JP: March 8, 1991
Genre(s)Action-adventure game

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of the Lance is a video game released in January 1988 for various home computer systems and consoles. The game is based on the first Dragonlance campaign module for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Dragons of Despair, and the first Dragonlance novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Heroes of the Lance focuses on the journey of eight heroes through the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth, where they must face the ancient dragon Khisanth and retrieve the relic, the Disks of Mishakal.


Screenshot from the Amiga version

Heroes of the Lance is a side-scrolling action game.[2] Even if it is a faithful representation of a portion of the novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight, it was a departure from the role-playing game module Dragons of Despair the book itself is based on.

The eight heroes from the Dragonlance series are assembled for the quest, but only one is visible on the screen at a time; when the on-screen hero dies, the next in line appears.[2] The game uses actual Dungeons & Dragons statistics, with statistics for the characters exactly as they were in the rule books.[3] Three characters have special abilities (healing magic, wizard magic, and trap removal), but the other five merely act as "lives" for the player as in traditional action-platforming games.



The eight heroes that make up the party are:


Heroes of the Lance was based on the Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.[3] Heroes of the Lance was not part of the Gold Box series; the nickname for these other D&D titles were "Silver Box" games.[2] The NES version was developed by Natsume.


Heroes of the Lance was very successful for SSI, with 88,808 copies sold for computers in North America.[4] After reviewing a pre-production copy of the DOS version of Heroes of the Lance, the magazine G.M. praised its graphics and "excellent" audio and said that "it would undoubtedly go straight to the top of the computer games charts and stay there for several months. Its THAT good."[5] Computer Gaming World gave the DOS version of the game a similarly positive review.[6] Electronic Gaming Monthly columnist Seanbaby listed the NES version as the 2nd worst NES game, and as the 11th worst video game.[7][8] Levi Buchanan, in a classic Dungeons & Dragons videogame retrospective for IGN, wrote that "If you don't plan well, you can lose a lot of heroes in a very short period of time. This offered a slight strategy angle, but D&D fans largely preferred the Pool of Radiance straight RPG approach."[2] (Pool of Radiance' sales were triple that of Heroes of the Lance.[4]) According to GameSpy, "While the game was actually a fairly decent side-scroller for its time, the frustrating level of difficulty, along with the fact that you couldn't save the game, meant that most gamers gave this game a miss."[9]


The storyline for this game continued in two subsequent video games, Dragons of Flame and Shadow Sorcerer.


  1. ^ "Heroes of the Lance (NES) - Video Game Music Preservation Foundation Wiki".
  2. ^ a b c d Buchanan, Levi (March 6, 2008). "Dungeons & Dragons Classic Videogame Retrospective". IGN. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  3. ^ a b Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 142, ISBN 978-0786458950
  4. ^ a b Maher, Jimmy (2016-03-18). "Opening the Gold Box, Part 3: From Tabletop to Desktop". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons". G.M. Croftward. 1 (1): 1820. September 1988.
  6. ^ Wilson, David (December 1988). "Heroes and Heavies of the Lance". Computer Gaming World. pp. 54, 56.
  7. ^ Seanbaby. "The 20 worst NES Games of all Time". Archived from the original on 23 March 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  8. ^ Seanbaby. "Seanbaby's EGM's Crapstravaganza: The 20 Worst Video Games of All Time". Archived from the original on 23 March 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
    (expanded from an article written for Electronic Gaming Monthly #150)
  9. ^ Rausch, Allen (August 15, 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-12-23.


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