As the great fan of FRUA that I am, and seeing how popular the original Gold Box games are among community members, I was curious enough about them to buy them when they were re-released on GOG. Now that I own them all (well, except for the Buck Rogers titles), I felt like giving them a try. I made some earlier attempts, but the last one I tried recently was Champions of Krynn.
But coming from (hacked) FRUA, with no nostalgia goggles on, I find it quite hard to get into, due to several minor annoyances adding up, like having to press more buttons than necessary every combat round (MOVE, and MANUAL for aiming, which are handled automatically in FRUA), having to re-memorize every spell once it's cast (while FRUA stores your last selection, so you just need to rest), the tedious customization of the crude character combat icons, the emulated PC speaker sounds, the need to constantly check the journal for reading longer passages of text, apparantly no ranged weapons (slings) for casters, etc.
So I wonder, if I can't get into the oldest Gold Box games, is there still a chance for me to enjoy the newer ones, which are a bit closer to FRUA? Which games use which engine, which graphic and color mode (EGA, VGA)? When did improvements for more ease-of-use occur, if at all? Do all of them share the need for pressing MOVE and MANUAL in combat? Do all of them work with outsourced journal entries? Would it even make sense to play a later installment in a series without having played the previous ones, e.g. Dark Queen without Champions and Death Knights?