Oh, Lord. I was working in a comic and game store in 1993, the year TSR released the game.
My chief memories of DragonStrike are 1. the cardboard floor display, full of unsold copies, and 2. The promo video that my boss played endlessly on the store VCR: “When DragonStrike the video ends, DragonStrike the game begins!” That line is burned into my brain.
So. Freaking. Awesome.
So sad DragonStrike didnt reach across the pond.
I wish WotC did something alike for the new Dungeons & Dragons.
The title should really be “The First 20 years of my obsession with DragonStrike’s instructional videotape”, since I get the feeling that, however cathartic this may be, it’s not the end of Don Jolly’s obsession. Nor should it be.
I say that as a fellow obsessive (even though I’ve never heard of DragonStrike before I recognize a kindred spirit here).
Pity. I would dearly love to see what remains of WildSpace. Anyone know someone at TSR/Wizards who might have kept any prototype materials?
Dragonstrike the game was actually pretty decent. The scenario writing is a step up from Heroquest in that there are light RPG options, as well as some timed events. Some of the stuff had barely entered video games in that time, and never boardgames.
The other 90’s TSR “bright” spot are the CD adventures. Look up D&D First Quest for the details. Basically you got a stripped down set of 2nd edition AD&D rules and a GORGEOUS poster map. And a CD.
The CD is possibly even more special than the Dragonstrike VHS tape. Full cast audio of all of the encounters in the two included in the adventures.
“It is the Dragon Orb.”
“Aaayye…What’s an orb?”
The embedded video is WildSpace.
The Dragonstrike 35:12 video is here:
I’m not familiar with the CD adventures, but I did quite like their CD “sourcebook” for Planescape, A Player’s Primer to the Outlands (link goes to a free download of the entire product from WOTC!). Some inspired voice acting on that one.
I owned this game and was obsessed with the video as well. But by '93 I was a 10 year seasoned D&D player. And though it was indeed a bit hokey, it still is fun to watch.
Nice touch that on BB, the video rip leads off with a Macrovision warning screen.
Shufferin Shuccotash! What happened to the audio?
I first encountered the video a couple of years ago. I believe 'twas The Spoony Experiment that did an MST3K-style rendition – so, not quite so obscure anymore.
If anyone hungers for a more recent game of this nature, may I suggest Mansions of Madness? It’s a bit lengthy and the setup can be a little complicated, though it’s got nothing on Arkham Horror.
Wow…to think that I’ve never seen this! I actually have a copy of DragonStrike, still in the box (unopened, but the plastic has been ripped) in the other room. My dad bought it for me for my birthday back in the day, and for some reason, I never actually opened it. I’ve always wondered what the tape contained (not enough to google it, but the thought was still there, popping up periodically)…now I know! Excellent post.
This and its sequel were the ultimate in board gaming, and the best introduction to table-top RPGs I have ever seen (outside Hero’s Quest).
I bought that when it came out, because I bought pretty much everything Planescape at the time… I probably still have it.
I honestly can’t remember if I ever listened to it. I’ve never owned a music CD player… though it’s possible I put it in a computer with a CD-Rom drive at some point and listened to it that way.
His sister is Lorraine Williams, who ran TSR from 1986 through 1997 (when the company ran out of money and got bought by Wizards of the Coast). Wikipedia adds that they are the grandchildren of John F. Dille, who was responsible for Buck Rogers being turned into a comic strip in the 1920s.
While I wasn’t obsessed for 20 years, I have a similar tale of love for a VHS tape game. In the late 80’s my mom was single, divorced, down to her last penny, and sitting in a Pic N’ Save in suburban Phoenix, desperately shopping for a Christmas present for me and one for my older brother. She couldn’t afford anything fancy, but she needed SOMETHING to put under the tree. I don’t remember what my brother got, but I got ISAAC ASIMOV’S ROBOTS VHS MYSTERY GAME. It was a VHS mystery game involving various cards that contained clues, replayable because every single time the cards would be in different combos so you could solve the mystery differently.
The amazing thing was that the VHS tape that went with the game that told the story is still to this day the best and most accurate filmed version of the Isaac Asimov Robot Universe:
(this is just part 1, parts 2 and 3 are also online). I remember the somewhat creepy tone of the show really stuck with me, the way it felt really fully realized. I immediately went out and started reading every Asimov novel and short story I could think of. Asimov led to things like Dune and Star Trek, and there you go.
To this day my mom and I are stunned at the serendipity of this low budget VHS movie, and how it completely changed my life. I am stunned as an adult at how not-that-bad the production is, especially in terms of being faithful to Asimov’s original vision. My mom is amazed when I think fondly of that game, because it really was a final desperate attempt at putting something under our Christmas tree. Like I said earlier, no one remembers what my brother got. A soccer ball maybe? I have no idea. But the bargain bin VHS game launched so many things for me.
I love stuff like this and DragonStrike because you can tell that they were made with the best intentions by people just trying to put a good product together with the constraints they had. It makes me a bit sad that the world isn’t like that anymore. There’s a purity to these that I love.
I look forward to watching the video tonight. The description reminds me of a D-grade live-action TV show called Photon, made to cash in on the laser tag like game.
I’m trying to figure out why I’ve never even heard of DragonStrike.
1993 must have been one of the totally miserable times when my job and situation didn’t give me the luxury of FTF gaming. I would have gotten computer games through mail order, and thus rarely if ever stepped into a game store or bought (frex) The Dragon.
A few years ago I found, at a Goodwill store, a copy of a sumptuous TSR game called DragonQuest. It was essentially a D&D starter set, but in a big box with game boards and cardboard “standee” figures. The castle-shaped game board was mostly blank; the DM added details depending on the scenario being played.
I gave the game to a college friend, in hopes that he’d use it to get his kids into RPGs.
Haha - around 13:50 you can hear the sneakers on the warrior squeak as he dodges the dragon.
absolutely amazing. I love the set, and the community theater acting. Reminded me of Fat Man Stuck in Internet. This felt like a medieval/fantasy Power Rangers. 10/10 Would watch web series