I'm astonished to find myself writing this, but I'm even more astonished that it's true.
I only ever played through the Pools series once from start to finish, back when Pools of Darkness was released and I couldn't resist. But, I have to admit, I fudged my way through Secret of the Silver Blades (I think I skipped the Black Circle headquarters somehow, and I spent as little time as possible in the mine, and I ran from every encounter in the crevasse, and I skipped as many encounters as possible in the Dreadlord's castle), and THEN I ended up getting to the end of Pools of Darkness through some manner of bug that allowed me to bypass several major encounters. And then I never touched them again. Till Gog.
When I got the adventures in Gog, I figured I'd try again, and do it right this time.
- Pool of Radiance is a treasure. I never get tired of playing. I've played that game from start to finish at least 50 times.
- Cure of the Azure Bonds has grown on me over the years. I've probably played it at least 20 times, and I've really come to love it.
- Secret of the Silver Blades I just completed for the third, maybe fourth time. And GOOD LORD that game is agony on a floppy disk! It's just one massive combat slog after another, studded with endless wandering encounters with a rotating cast of the same six monsters. If I see another medusa, cockatrice, or basilisk in the next ten years, I'll collapse into shuddering flashbacks. I mean, who thought it was a good idea to have a 10-level mine crawl that exits into the tenth level of a second dungeon...which you then have to explore back to the top? And, for real, I'm pretty sure I've eradicated Bane's entire clergy at this point. It's just not possible that there are that many clerics wandering around who can cast slay living!
Maybe what I should say is, that game was not suited to my playing style. I've got some serious Gold Box fatigue. And now I have my characters ready for Pools of Darkness, all ready to level, punch a barkeep for 1 xp, and then level again...and I just can't bring myself to click "Play" one more time. I'm sure I will, but I'm amazed that I'm as worn out as I am.
What do you think? Is it just that I'm old? Now that 40 is in the rearview, should I readjust my gaming expectations? Or is it that I haven't played SotSB 20 times, so I'm not as familiar with it? Or have you run into something similar? Am I not alone?