Venture3   Exidy’s Venture was a hack-and-slash, dungeon-crawl video game and that’s exactly what makes it so awesome!

I was a sensitive kid. In the 1970s and 80s, I lacked the predator-like aggressiveness so common among my peers. In my struggles to cope, I immersed myself in the many forms of escapism that sensitive kids turned to in those days. This meant Dungeons & Dragons, music, and of course, video games. Destroying digital enemies provided the sense of dominance I was lacking in the real world.

As such, I fondly remember arcade games from the 1980s.

I Found the Ad-Venture I was Searching For!
I don’t remember when or where I first heard about Venture. All I know is that it was love at first sight. Exidy took the best elements of fantasy role playing – hack-and-slash and treasures – and brought them to the arcade. There was no rolling dice, no checking  saving throws, and no depending upon a dungeon master’s good graces. (I knew some dungeon masters who were just plain dicks!)

Playing Venture in the Arcades of the 1980s
During my youth, it seemed like there was an arcade on every corner. And there were a few games in restaurants, lounges, and anywhere else us 80s kids congregated. The adults of that era were trying to cash on the disposable income of Generation X, and may the gods bless them for it! And although it wasn’t as popular as Pac-Man or Defender, Venture maintained its niche in many area arcades.

Winky   The 411 on Venture
Released in 1981, Venture promised plenty to anyone daring enough to drop a quarter down. The player controlled “Winky,” a red smiley face holding a bow and arrow. (Think an armed Pac-Man.) Players start by avoiding Hallmonsters by ducking into one of the level’s rooms. Note: The Hallmonsters are invincible much like Evil Otto from Berzerk.

Once inside, the player sees a treasure and a group of creatures cavorting about. The object is simple: Kill the monsters then run deep into the room to grab the treasure. To give the game more complexity, Exidy added two unique features:

1. Even after you kill the monsters in each room, bumping into their decomposing bodies will still kill you.

2. If you stay too long inside a room, an invincible Hallmonster busts in and charges you. Your only option is escaping out the door.

Grabbing the treasures out of every room advances you to the next level. And while I make it all sound so easy, this game offered varying degrees of difficulty. For example, dead monsters can block an exit, and shooting the cadaver slows decomposition. Also, the game’s AI allows some monsters to dodge arrows better than others.

The Levels and Monsters in Venture
Maybe you didn’t get that far on Venture. No shame. As I said before, the game is tough. Wondering about Venture’s “Monster Manual?” Here’s a breakdown of the all three levels:

Level 1: The Wall Room, Serpent Room, Skeleton Room, and Goblin Room.

Level 2: The Two-Headed Room, Dragon Room, Spider Room, and Troll Room.

Level 3: The Genie Room, Demon Room, Cyclops Room, and Bat Room.

Venture1   Other 1980s Arcade Games Influenced by Role-Playing Adventures
The influence of Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games extended to the arcades. I can think of a few 80s video games that sought to mimic the successes of TSR and other game makers of that era. (Note this original advertisement for Venture, strategically placed inside a “dungeon.”)

Ever played Gladiator, Gauntlet, or The Dragon’s Lair? Surely you see the similarities to D&D. And if you’ve played Gamma World, you’ll see a connection to Space Ace and Wizard of Wor. (All awesome arcade games, by the way!)

I know that the above is far from an exhaustive list. I just listed a few 80s videos games that resembled role-playing games that came to my head. If you remember any other games that are worthy of mention, feel free to list them in the comments sections. Note: A list of home video games influenced by role-playings games is too large for this blog.

Venture2   Venture Comes to the ColecoVision
Most of us Generation Xers had a home video game system during our youth. Some of us had several. Over the years, I had an Atari 2600, Odyssey 2, and the ColecoVision. My favorite, by far, was the ColecoVision. The release of Venture for ColecoVision is one of the reasons I cherish this 8-bit game system. I slayedmonsters and stole treasure from the comfort of Trauma Central.

Note: I can’t remember if the home version of Venture featured all three levels or just two. The system came with Donkey Kong; but much to my dismay, the fabled Cement Factory level was missing. Grr!

Where to Find Info on 1980s Arcade Games
If you’re a fan of 1980s video games, you owe it to yourself to visit Killer List of Video Games. K.L.O.V. is the most complete online arcade game encyclopedia. It features a decent page about Venture as well as the other games listed here. If you remember the names of your favorite arcade games from the 80s, chances are you’ll find it here. If you’re an old video game fanatic from way back, check out K.L.O.V. It’s a sweet trip down memory lane!

More Video Game Nostalgia to Come!
Venture is just one of many awesome video games from my youth that I still cherish. I tended to like the offbeat, quirky, and downright odd games from those halcyon days. Who remembers Circus, Kram, and Crazy Climber? Or how about Bubbles? Or Major Havoc? Expect more blog posts featuring classic video game nostalgia in the future.

In the meantime, feel free to share your video game memories in the comments section. I’m dying to know what was sucking up your quarters during the Reagan era!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

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