#164 – Deadly Towers

Biting off more than any of us can chew.
If only the main character was actually a warrior and not a kid.
Welcome to your doom!


PUBLISHER: Broderbund



RELEASE DATE: September 1987

Some games have bad reputations. Then there’s Deadly Towers. It was proclaimed the #1 Worst Nintendo Game of All Time by Comedy Game Reviewer, Seanbaby (though I’m sure he was sincere in his hatred). The Angry Video Game Nerd also made an episode about Deadly Towers. While he normally writes his own dialogue, for this episode, he only spoke about the game using scathing comments sent in by fans of the show/haters of Deadly Towers. The episode was eight minutes long – mostly dialogue – and he received over 6500 e-mails filled with people decrying Deadly Towers. So yeah, people haaaaaaaate Deadly Towers with a bile-filled passion. Why does a simple adventure game that tries to mimic Zelda (quite the theme here on the NES, as of late) receive such ire?

Based on my playthrough, here are a few reasons.

  • The password system is overly long. This is more of a nuisance than anything, but it definitely adds fuel to the fire.
  • The game is all about exploration, but unlike, say, Zelda, where almost every area has a purpose, the majority of Deadly Towers‘ rooms/dungeons have little purpose.
  • While you begin with 100 hit points, which gives you a sense of self-confidence, most enemies take off at least 10 points, and usually more. This can prove troublesome when…
  • You enter rooms unexpectedly, get hit by an enemy into another room, and then another enemy into another room, until all your hit points have been depleted. This happened to me several times. One of the enemies took off about 33 hit points, despite the fact that he wasn’t that difficult to kill. Insanity!
  • Some of the enemies, like the good-for-nothing blobs, take a couple dozen hits to kill, and give you nothing in return. Also, even if you kill every enemy in a room, if you leave and then come back, all the enemies will have regenerated. Sad day.
  • The graphics are drab and the music is repetitive, although I personally didn’t find it that obnoxious.

To the game’s credit, you can attack using an eight-way directional system, which was pretty novel for the time. I admire Broderbund for trying to make an epic exploratory adventure that one-upped Zelda, but they should have studied Zelda‘s mechanics closer instead of sticking a sword in the hands of a warrior and saying “Hop to it!” I couldn’t rank Deadly Towers as the worst NES game of all time, simply because I haven’t played every NES game. I have played worse NES games, but that’s faint praise indeed. Deadly Towers is still a very, very bad game.


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5 replies on “#164 – Deadly Towers”

I liked the graphics at the time, the non-linear game play and the depth of the platform (i.e., being able to move between foreground and background in addition to left and right). These aspects drew me into the game so I played it quite extensively. I never finished it though I kind of want to try again. I was shocked to learn many years later that it was dubbed the worst NES game. I do agree with all your points, though unlike the rest of the world, I think there’s a bunch more games way worse. You even graded some of those with “F-“. That’s worse than your “F” for Deadly Towers:D

I liked playing Deadly Towers when I was a kid. I drew out the dungeons on graph paper and loved collecting all the best equipment. I think I beat it a handful of times. It was really challenging at first, but gets easier once you get the hang of it and collect the better gear. I would definitely not call it the worst NES game.

I love the guy on the cover. I named him Strongdar the Mighty. Even Strongdar’s scabbard is a weapon in its own right! Strongdar’s helm can crush the lesser skulls of his foes! I wish the game was actually about Strongdar, instead of Ico’s Grandpa there.

I played this once at a friend’s house. It’s not completely awful but the enemies have way too much health and the item shop is obscure as hell to locate. You have to walk into a wall to find it. Also, I seem to remember a code where you can flip the last two letters of your first password to get the most powerful sword. I actually made it to the base of the area where the first bell was but it’s way too hard and unbalanced by this point. As you said, they could have taken cues from Zelda (or maybe Crystalis, an equally great game).

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