There are 14 different Adventures to choose from in Tower of Doom, as follows:
|Adventure||Number of Levels||Random mazes?||Scrambled colors?||Win condition & notes|
|Novice||6||No||No||Exit (via lowest level of tower)|
|Fortress||6||Yes||Yes||Exit or find and kill Wizard|
|Fortress||12||Yes||Yes||Exit or find and kill Wizard|
|Fortress||18||Yes||Yes||Exit or find and kill Wizard|
|Fortress||24||Yes||Yes||Exit or find and kill Wizard|
|The Challenge||14||Yes||No||Exit (new monster added with each floor)|
|Wizard Hunt||32||Yes||Yes||Find and kill Wizard|
|Grail Quest||32||Yes||Yes||Manual claims you must find the Grail, but you can exit via Level 32 with or without it, or use the Magenta Grail to immediately end the game|
The manual claims these are in ascending order of difficulty, but in practice some of these Adventures are much harder than others, especially long, randomly-generated Adventures. Essentially:
- The Novice Adventure is for beginners;
- The three Tower Adventures are always the same and can be mapped out;
- The Catacombs are similar to the Tower, but randomly generated and with randomized colors;
- The Fortress Adventures are like the Catacombs but can be completed by killing the Wizard, which grants instant victory;
- The Challenge simply adds a new monster to each level, and doesn't randomize the colors;
- The Wizard Hunt requires you to kill the Wizard (what happens if you finish Level 32 without killing him?), which grants instant victory; and
- The manual's description of the Grail Quest claims "You must locate the Grail to succeed!", but in fact you can exit via Level 32 with or without the Grail (what happens if you barter the Grail away?), seemingly without penalty. Wizards and other dangerous monsters become ubiquitous on higher levels, making this the most dangerous and difficult Adventure of all.
The Tower Adventures can offer difficult curveballs when playing as the weak, unarmed Waif. In particular, Tower/12 has an almost unavoidable battle with a dangerous Stirge that guards the stairs on the first floor, but that floor offers no melee weapons with which to fight.
Tips and tricks
Food is paramount. Even the mightiest adventurer will soon die without food. Try to have at least two food items (or an alternative like the Grail or Rosary) on hand at all times, and wait to use them until absolutely necessary.
He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. Combat against strong enemies can easily turn disastrous. Unless you're extremely powerful, it's better to avoid many combats and focus on collecting treasures and staying well-fed.
Three strikes, you're out. Most enemies won't attack you instantly until the third time you encounter them -- the first two times, they'll wait for a bribe, and will hesitate before pursuing you if you flee combat. Use this to your advantage.
Don't kill weak enemies. As long as there's a weak enemy in the room, a stronger enemy won't replace it. Giant Rats are the perfect pets, since they're slow, do little damage, and can always be bought off if necessary with a Boot.
Bribing monsters is mostly useless. Few strong enemies will pay any attention to your offerings, and the ones that reliably do -- the Giant Rat or Skeleton -- aren't much of a threat. However, it can be a helpful way to get rid of junk items or, if you're weak, to get a Giant Rat or Skeleton out of your hair without a risky fight.
It's easier to run away to the West or South. If you don't want to fight a monster, pressing Left or Down exits battle, and you'll start running in that direction as soon as the screen changes back to exploration mode. This makes it much, much easier to flee to the west or south, whereas fleeing north or (especially) east takes very fancy footwork with the controller -- especially since pressing Up or Right brings you closer to the monster once the battle resumes.
Open doors and take stairs quickly. If you've got an empty room and a door to open, do so immediately, as it's often impossible to navigate the menu in time when a fast monster enters the room. The same goes for stairs: if you dither when deciding whether to go down a level, it can ruin your plans when a Stirge or Wraith enters the room.
Trap monsters behind doors. Open a door, lead a monster into that sub-area, and then leave the room. The monster will be trapped behind the door when you return. This can be quite handy, and gives you a safe place to rest up and strategize.
Learn the standard room layouts. The number of room shapes in Tower of Doom is relatively small, and learning them can help you anticipate where exits and doors will be.
Exits are never behind doors. If a room looks like a dead end, and there's an unopened door in it, there won't be a hidden exit behind that door.
Drop items you don't need when things are quiet. It's always best to keep an open spot in your inventory, since it's hard to drop an item when you're being chased by a monster. The game can be remarkably picky about when and where you're allowed to drop an item, especially in narrow corridors -- so if you have an empty room and an unwanted item, get rid of it while you have the chance.
Cyan items are bad -- except when they're not. Magical Artifacts that are normally Cyan are almost always bad for you. However, there are exceptions: the Cyan Key can help you avoid an annoying Teleporter, and the Cyan Grail is an extremely powerful item that confers permanent haste and a huge boost in abilities.
Magenta items are good -- except when they're not. Most Magenta items are the most powerful in their class, including the Magenta potions which temporarily give you loads of extra health, and the Magenta Ring which makes you immune from Wand backlash. However, the Magenta Book and Magenta Mortar & Pestle are cursed items that lower your experience and stats (respectively).
He-Man should go downstairs before having dinner. If you've recently used a Magenta potion, eating food will instantly remove the temporary HP boost you just got from it. Don't use a Magenta potion on an empty stomach -- unless you're starving, that is!
Food can be an emergency healing item. If you have plenty of food items (more than three) and are in badly in need of healing, eating early will give you a HP boost. But remember, being a glutton now can lead to starvation later.
Most Mortar & Pestles are cursed. Of the eight kinds of these items, over half have a negative effect, including colors that are normally beneficial like Bright Green and Magenta.
Dealing with traps
Traps can be incredibly dangerous in Tower of Doom. A Paralysis or Confusion trap that stands between you and where you need to go can instantly wreck even the best game. Fortunately, there are some countermeasures that work well, many of which depend on the fact that the game won't trigger a trap as long as another sound is playing:
- Use a treasure - When using a treasure, a long chime sounds. As long as that sound persists, traps are ineffective. It's a really good idea to keep at least one treasure on hand at all times for this reason, as it's the best way to bypass a trap.
- Get into a fight and escape - If you can get a monster to engage you in battle right next to a trap, then you can often duck past the trap by escaping the battle and running through the trap while the monster's snarl is still audible.
- Use a Wand or Holy Hand Grenade - Fire one of these items against a distant wall, and duck through the trap while the explosion sound is still trailing off.
- Use a Key - Not always a viable option since it temporarily disarms you, but traps can be avoided by wielding the corresponding Key in place of a weapon.
- Dodge them - The Gas traps and Poison (tan ring) trap can be dodged with good timing, and the Fire trap only harms you 10% of the time.
- Use a Scroll of Trap Removal - This scroll that's normally bright green, whether large or small, will remove all traps in a level.
The most dangerous traps in the short term are the Paralysis and Confusion traps, both of which can't be dodged and can render your character incapable of self-defense.
In the medium to long term, the Life Eater (red ring) is extremely dangerous, since it drains 20 points of Life Force and makes starvation more of a danger.
By contrast, the Fire trap usually doesn't harm you, the Green Gas Cloud does relatively little damage, and the Transporter is merely inconvenient (and can even be helpful).
Dealing with monsters
The 13 foes in Tower of Doom range from nearly harmless to extremely dangerous. The biggest factor isn't necessarily their strength, but their speed. Unless you're unexpectedly trapped in a room with a Dragon or Hydra (e.g. via teleportation), it's easy to avoid them despite their great power -- whereas the comparatively weaker Wraith is impossible to outrun.
One key point is remembering that as long as one Monster is in the room, no other Monster will enter. That means that it's often counterproductive to kill a weak enemy, especially on higher levels.
Also note that monsters will sometimes follow you from room to room after a delay. It's unclear what triggers this, but -- as one might expect -- standing near an exit seems to attract monsters from the next room over.
Here's a rough breakdown into several classes:
- Keep as pets: The Giant Rat, Serpent, and Skeleton are slow-moving, can be bribed, and offer very little XP. As long as they're in the room, you're relatively safe, and can often use/drop items, open doors, and take stairs without much difficulty.
- Avoid or snipe when weak, kill when stronger: The Stirge, Stag Beetle, and Axebeak are fast-moving and very dangerous to weaker players, who should either avoid them or kill them from a safe distance with projectiles (though it can hard to hit the Stirge or Stag Beetle). You can't reliably open doors or take stairs with these enemies nearby, so if they're guarding the room with the stairs, you may be in deep trouble. Once you become strong and well-equipped enough to reliably defeat them with 1-2 hits, it's reasonably safe to charge in and kill them in melee, but the Stag Beetle can still do a lot of damage in a short time.
- Ignore: The Scorpion moves slowly, offers relatively little XP, and sits too low to easily hit with a projectile. However, it can permanently reduce your HP with a successful hit. Don't fight the Scorpion, but don't fear it either -- just do an end run around it if at all possible, since it's easy to escape.
- Avoid melee, but well worth hunting: The Owlbear, Hydra, Beholder, and Dragon all pack a serious punch, and melee combat with them is best avoided. However, since they move slowly, they can all be hunted from a distance, and will garner the player significant XP for doing so. A weak player who slays a Dragon with a Wand can get an instant, massive boost in stats. (The Beholder is somewhat quicker than the others and may be best avoided.)
- Avoid at all costs: As the fastest enemy in the game, the Wraith will shred you very quickly. While it does less damage than e.g. the Hydra or Dragon, it can attack repeatedly in a short time. Furthermore, the Wraith is too fast to escape, leaves you no time to use an item, and will often home in on the player as soon as you enter a room. Unless you're very powerful, don't get anywhere near a Wraith if you can help it; if you do meet one, you have to stand and fight.
- Kill if you must, hunt if you can, otherwise avoid: The Wizard is theoretically the most powerful enemy in the game, but his movement speed is only moderate and his HP don't seem too high. If the layout of the room is favorable, you can potentially bombard the Wizard with projectiles, especially if you have an Orange or Brown Small Scroll with which to slow or paralyze him. If you're on a Fortress or Wizard Hunt quest, then killing the Wizard is your objective. Otherwise, only well-equipped and powerful characters should even consider engaging the Wizard in melee, though the XP payout is well worth it.
What are the best weapons and items?
Without disassembling the game's code, this can't be established with any certainty, but a few things are clear:
- Color is important. Items that are gray, cyan, or orange (when unscrambled) are significantly less likely to hit and/or do less damage. Green and magenta items pack a lethal punch and hit often.
- Weapon type is also a factor. Even a Gray Double-Handed Sword seems to do serious damage, and may hit more reliably than a Gray Dagger or Spear.
- The Wand and Holy Hand Grenade are powerful, but can be exceedingly dangerous to the wielder. It's perilously easy to double-tap the fire button when opening doors, and the backlash can instantly kill a weak or weakened character. Don't walk around with them equipped; instead, save these for attacking the most powerful enemies from a distance.
- The Mace is surprisingly effective, and seems like it might be the best or second-best melee weapon in the game next to the very rare Double-Handed Sword. A Magenta Mace is easily enough to kill a Wizard.
- Weapons that can function both as projectiles and as melee weapons, i.e. the Spear, Axe, and Hammer, are useful but easy to inadvertently deplete. In the long run, it's better to have a combination like a Mace and a Holy Hand Grenade, or a Sword and a Wand.
While most non-cursed items have some use, there are a handful of standout items that can totally transform a game:
- Both Gray Potions heal you. This can be particularly helpful for powerful characters, who can take a lot of damage quickly in combat against strong foes. For weaker characters, they're less useful and can get in the way.
- The Brown Bottle makes your character super-fast for one level, and gives you the upper hand in avoiding combat and exploring quickly. It's arguably the single most helpful item in the game.
- The Brown Flask makes you invisible, so enemies won't pursue you. (The Brown Mortar & Pestle does the same thing.) Of course, you can't see yourself either! It may confer some protection in melee, but this is uncertain.
- The Lavender Bottle, aka PEERCEPTION ENHANCED, lets you see any item in a room without needing to explore it. This saves huge amounts of time. Be sure to use it at the start of a level, as it only lasts for one floor.
- Both Magenta Potions offer huge (though temporary) health boosts, and can be literal life-savers. Happily, they seem relatively common.
- The Orange Small Scroll slows a monster down, and the Brown Small Scroll paralyzes it completely. This is extremely helpful when hunting the Wizard, so hang onto it. Be careful, though, as the effects disappear if you enter melee!
- Both Green Scrolls remove all traps in a level. Very handy.
- The Gray Ring hastens your healing by a factor of eight, which makes a huge difference in saving time and avoiding long waits while you recuperate (and waste Life Points/Food).
- The Magenta Ring makes you immune from Wand backlash, which makes wielding the Wand a much less risky proposition.
- When used, the Pink Cloak says that STRONG MAGIC PROTECTS YOU, and does appear to confer a high defense on the wearer.
- The Magenta Cloak gives you permanent immunity to Confusion traps -- very helpful, and that immunity remains even if you don an additional Cloak afterward.
- The Bright Green Book doubles your XP. Tricky to decide whether to use it immediately or save it up, but either way, it can be a gigantic help.
- The Lavender Key bypasses the Confusion trap, which can be life-saving even when your character is very strong.
- The Magenta Key bypasses all traps, which speaks for itself.
- Rosaries and Grails:
- The Gray Rosary, which is a starting item for the Friar, makes all cursed potions have a beneficial effect. For example, the Pink Flask, which normally paralyzes the character, will instead act like a Brown Bottle of Haste. However, the Rosary's effect appears to end when you reach Level 32 of the Grail Quest.
- The Pink Rosary confers permanent immunity from traps. (At least one other item does the same thing.)
- The Lavender Rosary makes you never need Food again, which is a huge advantage.
- The Cyan Grail confers permanent haste and a huge boost in stats. Even as the Waif, it's tough to lose if you have this item.
Remember, these colors will be scrambled when playing certain characters and/or most of the tougher Adventures. Fortunately there are only eight possible color shifts, and they're always consistent within a game: if a Ring that's normally Cyan appears to be Orange, then all items that appear orange will function as if they were Cyan.