Intellivision, Treasure of Tarmin – Revival!

Rewind the clock and you’ll find classic video games that paved the way for the incredible first person shooter gaming experiences we know and love today. This post is about a game created for the Intellivision console back in the early 1980’s where the game play is nearly perfect for it’s era, and worthy of a nostalgic review – and a bit of a ‘call to action’….


Born from the late 1970’s cult classic role playing game Dungeons & Dragons, Treasure of Tarmin brings to primitive digital life the enchanted mid-evil world of legendary power.

One obvious caveat is that one must look past the rudimentary 8-bit sprite graphics and appreciate the intent of this brilliant strategic masterpiece.  While one could argue the object of the game is to capture the Treasure of Tarmin protected by the Minotaur as quickly as possible, at a superficial level, they would be correct.  But complete mastery of the game can only come with deep excursions into the depths of the dungeon levels while gaining strength and making precise decisions along the way.

In my opinion, one of the greatest features of this game is the lack of a save – for the proverbial “undo” option…..  By not having any way to save your current game state for rollback insurance, this game parallels the humble experiences of true life – one bad decision could ruin the game (your life) forever.  If you are familiar with the game play of any modern first person shooter, on average, how many times do you get killed and regenerate in a single match?  It desensitizes your choices during the match, doesn’t it?  With a game like Treasure of Tarmin, every choice counts toward or against a successful outcome.

Over the recent years I’ve spent an undisclosed amount of time dissecting the addicting game play using the Win32 Intellipack 3 emulator, and have come up with strategies to maximize the success.  I will post my strategies in this blog over time, but for now, I’d like you to review one of my successful quests below.  Notice the extreme war strength and armor values.  This first example is by no means a flawless game state, but was a good effort for only being at the 12th level of the game.  For those that have played the game, I would love to see your comments and statistics.  Thanks for reading!

You can reference the original game instructions on this blog as well.

Below are a few additional screenshots of different quests where I invested significant time developing the character’s strength components.

I’ll give you a teaser about the screen capture below.  The Tall, Orange Hooded Wraith you see below is the quintessential “horrible monster” in the game.

A hint I can give you about the quest below shows the theoretical maximum values for both spiritual and war armor.

The screen capture below shows the ensuing victory screen after defeating the Minotaur.  Notice the accumulated treasure value on the right side of the screen – a decent value  for the 43rd level, but by no means is satisfying in my eyes….

On the satisfaction note – what would the results be of a perfectly executed quest of the Treasure of Tarmin?  That is a great question – one that I cannot answer (dare I say – “yet”).   Let me pose the following scenario, and let’s see what kind of responses I can get from this:

Start the game at the maximum difficulty (Level 3 of 3).
Proceed through all 256 levels – avoiding all monsters and magical doors that you are not certain you can defeat.
Start back at level 1 and vanquish all opponents that were originally avoided in every possible level and floor that can be reached.
Collect the Treasure of Tarmin on the second pass to the 256th level.

My outstanding question would be:

What would be the maximum value of treasure you’ve collected after going through all 256 levels (twice)?

My character strength assumptions would be:

199 War strength
99 Spiritual strength
119 War armor
52 Spiritual armor

Highest goals that should have been accomplished with the ultimate quest:

Destroy every magic door, including the Orange and Golden magic doors.  I have never once beaten a Golden magic door.
Destroy every Tall, Orange, Shielded Wraith.  To date, I’ve never survived an attack from this omega creature.

If this perfect quest were to be realized, I estimate the endeavor to take between 12 and 24 cumulative hours to accomplish.

So, from this moment forth, the gauntlet has been thrown.  Who will be brave enough to withstand the quest for a perfect game of the Intellivision 1982 Advanced Dungeons and Dragon’s Treasure of Tarmin?  I await your response…


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  1. Best game ever for intellivision. I have often wondered why this game series has not been lived on…

  2. I had this game new and being a teen at the time played it extensively. Eventually my goal was to collect all the books and then (being able to walk through the walls and seeing through them) start at an end corner and go in a straight line until I hit the far side, then turn and come back on the next line dystroying every creature I met and touching every square in every grid on all levels. I have gone completely through twice in a row all levels killing every creature in sight more than once. I can tell you from experience though that it’s incredibly frustrating after several hours of playing and being practictically invincible when you have a streak of bad luck and your books/weapons break and you suddenly get killed by a one of those stupid scorpians.

  3. There is a way to cheat in the game using the skill books and an empty bow quiver.

  4. I just happened to stumble across your blog a few days ago. I have been playing this game for years. (got my first copy in 1983 with the original Intellivision) I currently play it with an Intellivision II that I picked up on eBay.

    I like your idea for the “perfect game,” and frankly I’ve never thought about that. My endpoint when I play is that I must get all 3 books, the blue key, 199/99 and 119/52 after which I cannot continue past the next Minotaur I find. I then calculate my score as treasure/levels. My average score is around 500 with my best being 723. (The most treasure I have ever gotten was 45,000 but that’s another story)

  5. I play this every day on my android, loved this game most of my life. I think they could come up with something like this today without turning it into a shooter, maybe just enhance the graphics, add tons more content in terms of items and enemies, I’d play it forever.

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