Mini DarkTower Clone restores your youth

Do you remember DarkTower? New? Well, it’s a really cool combination board game, RPG, and computer game from 1981. Orson Welles pimped it up on TV, explaining it this way: “collect three keys, besiege the tower and defeat the enemy within”. The Tower itself was a battery-powered computer on lazy Susan that showed numbers on a pair of 7-segment displays, had graphics through three carousels, and a 12-button keyboard. Thanks to a lawsuit, few copies remain, and even fewer are in working condition.

Working copies of DarkTower go online for hundreds, but who can afford such extravagance when these 40+ year old towers are prone to battery leakage and loose connections? Certainly not [Mighty Studios], who was hoping to give DarkTower’s gift to a friend and decided to build a mini-reproduction instead. Luckily for us, the project is completely open source. You can check out the build video below, which has lots of links, including one that goes to the code.

In this day and age it doesn’t take much to reproduce the inside of the tower. [Mighty Studios] pulled it off with a Feather S2, a 320 x 420 TFT LCD display, a speaker, and a few momentary buttons. The screen can display all the images (which were only displayed one at a time in the original game anyway), all the necessary numbers and all the required menu options.

[Mighty Studios] was extremely lucky when it came to the case, like [Stinkevil] had already made a version of the dice tower and put it on Thingiverse. After a little tweaking and some punching, [Mighty Studios] had a mini tower scaled to the Feather S2 with just enough room to tuck all the components and wires. Between a PDF of the original rulebook and someone’s Java version of the game, [Mighty Studios] had enough to use as a guide to programming in the ruleset before sending it to their friend. We have to admit that we are quite jealous.

Don’t want to gather army and conquer evil forces? There are all kinds of board games that you could mimic with a microcontroller.

Thanks for the tip, [foamyguy]†

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