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A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.

Dark Tower from Milton Bradley (1981)

Company: Milton Bradley
Release date: 1981
Ages: 10+
# of players: 1-4
Where to purchase: eBay

“It’s More Than a Game, It’s an Experience”

The Dark Tower electronic fantasy adventure game challenges players to collect a series of keys, amass an army, storm the Dark Tower and defeat the evil within.

Created for one to four players over the age of 10, Dark Tower was Milton Bradley’s contribution to the role-playing game phenomena that took the 1980s by storm. Inside the box, players find a computerized black tower (considered advanced for its time), a round game board divided into four kingdoms, and a series of pawns, flags, keys, and attractions such as ruins, sanctuaries, and bazaars.

Players leave their own kingdoms in search of a series of keys to unlock the tower. Dangers lurk along the way in the form of dragons, starvation, plague, and brigands. Once a player gathers the necessary keys and returns to their home kingdom, they storm the castle, guess the correct order of the keys used to unlock the tower, and win the game.

Dark Tower has become a cult classic thanks in part to its rarity. The complete original game is difficult to find because of the fragility of its electronic components and the game’s short production span. Shortly after Dark Tower’s release, Milton Bradley was sued by two independent game developers who claimed the manufacturer plagiarized an idea they had pitched to the toy company. The two developers were ultimately victorious, and Milton Bradley ceased producing the game.

Boardgame publisher, Restoration Games, is producing a crowd-funded sequel to the original, titled Return to Dark Tower. It’s set for release in 2021.

Watch a classic commercial for Dark Tower featuring Orson Welles.

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