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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance (NES)

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Title Screen

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance

Developers: Marionette
Publishers: Pony Canyon (JP), FCI (US)
Platform: NES
Released in JP: June 28, 1991
Released in US: April 1992

GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

Pool of Radiance was the first (and only) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons video game on the NES to be an RPG, as well as being the first computer game in the series, and the only console port of the game. The NES version featured several gameplay mechanic differences from its computer counterpart. A few of these include: gold is the only currency, most throwable items are unlimited, no copy protection. Additionally, graphics were created from scratch, and some of the maps as well as the wilderness parts were altered. It also features a full soundtrack, later used in the PC-98 version.


Pool of Radiance JPN(NES)-Glitch 1.png
Regional Differences
A storeroom full of human flesh...

Unused Music

Track 28 of the NSF file is a piece of music which isn't used anywhere in the game. Its intended use is unknown, however, there are a few possibilities:

  • The computer versions featured random caves, but they were removed from the NES version.
  • The main menu lacks music, as well as the ending cutscene.
  • Due to its repetitive nature, it may have just been written to test the audio driver.
  • It may have in fact been used at one point during development, but due to its repetitive nature, the programmers decided to disable the song. Because it can take several minutes to create a party, this would have been true if its intended use was for the menus.

(Source: Zophar.net)

Unused Images

To do:
Check if the female apparition has a second frame of animation that isn't used. I (Doommaster1994) have no way of checking.

A couple character portraits, while used in the game, don't appear in certain areas for other characters that use the same portraits. Most of the time, this is due to the game requiring the player to be facing up against a wall, otherwise it just shows a tiny graphic similar to their combat icon.


Ohlo's portrait revealed (Japanese version)

Ohlo (in the Slums) uses the same character portrait as Genheeris. However, you can never be up against a wall when you enter his room, so his character portrait is never used. Character portraits are usually (but not always) only displayed when you are facing a wall.


Envoy's portrait revealed (Japanese version)

The same situation applies to the Envoys in the Kobold Cave. They use the same character portrait as the Diane enemies found in Yarash's Pyramid.

Unused Text

The game contains a huge amount of unused text.

Buccaneer Base

You can buy a pass from a shady man to see the Captain who has the heir. However, if you manage to save him before this by letting the animals out, there is this additional message intended, but for some reason when you save the boy first, not only is the save flag raised, but also an alarm flag as well, which means any guard will attack you from now on, so you just can't access the Captain in this condition.

  The boy is not here.

Kobold Cave

Refers to the catapult (or Ballista in the computer versions) used to kill your party before the second wave. This message was intended to be displayed at some locations, but for some reason all of them are inaccessible closed areas without doors.

There is a broken catapult.
The Kobold suddenly ducks behind a large boulder.
The noise you made draws the attention of a large monster!

Some unused text about your party being thrown in a prison. It also mentions an alternate way of meeting Princess Fatima in the prison cell.

You are brought to the prison.
The kobold guards take some of your items as they drag you along.

A young woman in nomad dress comes out and says: Let's join together
against the kobolds.

You have your belongings stolen and you are thrown into the prison.

New Phlan

When you beat Mendor's Library and get all of the books, you take them to the City Hall, and the Clerk will give you a reward for all valuable books that you find. There are some books in the library that you find aren't valuable, though. Although the Clerk in City Hall has a corresponding script entry, the text message is unused because when you collect any of non-valuable books ('Meditation', 'Harmony of Rock', 'Discourses on poesy' and 'Rhetoric') there is no proper flag setting to allow the Clerk to give you a message. Note that she says "book" instead of "books", or "this book isn't".

The Clerk:
  These book aren't very
  valuable... We can't
  give you a reward.

The Clerk lets your party know by the end of the game that Cadorna has betrayed them. However, this is (usually) after you complete Zhentil Keep, so maybe it is used if you can somehow save Zhentil Keep as one of the last missions in the game.

The Clerk: Bring the letter to Zhentil Keep. Cadorna the betrayer might have
exchanged the genuine letter for a forgery. Be careful.

Podol Plaza

Early in the game, your party is sent to watch an auction in the plaza. Along the way, you can hear monsters rumor about things. However, some of these texts (at $02C9A3) aren't used.

{ENEMY NAME}leader:
The Shrine of Bane in the
Plaza is recruiting
for Mace.

Another {ENEMY NAME}:
And that was why Grishnak
was in an ill mood.

Textile House

In the Textile House, you also meet Restal, who forges Cadorna's treasure box lock for half the treasure. Here, you must pick a thief in your party or else you will die. It appears there were planned other way to actually go down. The game scripts check if some particular item with index $B8 is equipped, however, item resource for this item is empty and seems not to be implemented at all. The item was most likely supposed to be a ring of feather falling.

down easily with the ring.

Most likely, the ring was supposed to be of "feather falling".

Tyranthraxus's Lair

Possibly unused text? The thief you meet in Tyranthraxus's Lair somehow knows you robbed the boxes in Valjevo Castle's Bane Shrine.

Man: You are the shrine robbers!
The man attacks you suddenly.

After you recruit Genheeris, if you try to walk past the room leading to Tyranthraxus, Genheeris will leave the party and you cannot get him back. Perhaps this string of text was originally meant to give the players a choice whether to keep Genheeris or not:

I'll try to get aid
while you go to
slay Tyranthraxus.
Is that OK?


They break off and start to run away.

Yarash's Pyramid

There is a note on the floor:
Number 213 is making good progress. Number 214 expired Failed again.

The stirges leave.

While there IS a "the {MONSTER NAME}s leave" message in various areas of the game, in the pyramid there is no way to escape the stirges once you encounter them.

Zhentil Keep

The guards in Zhentil Keep try and kill you. In some other areas in the game, there are options to surrender your belongings in scenarios. However, it is not used in Zhentil Keep.

You couldn't get out and are caught. Your belongings are taken and you are
thrown out of the keep.

Unused text about a patrol finding your party.

You run in confusion and smash into an enemy patrol.

System messages

Among other system messages used for organizing the party, starting at $6A47E in the ROM there are a few unused ones, never appearing in any menus or dialogue.

There are no situations where you can't move at all. Or else you are already dead.

None of
the party
can move

Most likely, this was to be used during combat if the enemy characters were miraculously able to paralyze the entire party.

This string may have been intended to be used whenever you leave the shops in New Phlan.

Come here whenever
you need my help.

The Character creation menus does not inform you how much characters you may add in total, not when you organize your party. Usually, game just disables the corresponding menu options at all or informs you that you cannot add anymore.

Up to 5 PCs
can join
your party.

Up to 2 NPCs
can join
your party.

This text was to be used in the main menu if you chose to delete your save game whilst there not actually being a game saved to the cartridge. However, when you have no data to delete, the menu option to delete is disabled, so you can't select it.

You have
no data to

There is no such header in any menus or options. Instead, to create a character, you choose Character, and the option from its sub-menu Make.


Character Sheets

Upon beating the final boss Tyranthraxus, and returning to the City Hall, the council clerk will ask if you'd like to leave a character sheet for your character. Upon accepting, you will be given a 144-character-long password for each character. None of the other AD&D games on the NES use this feature, rendering it completely useless. The AD&D computer games used an MS-DOS command-line transfer utility, but also don't make use of these passwords, rendering these character sheets completely useless.

It is thought that Curse of the Azure Bonds, the game's sequel, was to be ported to the NES, but it never happened. If this was true, then the game's production was most likely abandoned due to the Super Famicom/SNES being on its way soon after the game's release.


  • In most fight, the first attack is almost always a miss and the second a hit. This affects fighting undead; if the player fights them without magic/silver weapons, the second attack will miss, but will still play the hit sound.
  • The noise channel for the combat music goes out of sync with each loop of the song.
  • Probably intended, but turning the Sound off in the Environment menu disables one of the sound channels, so the music will be playing with a channel muted.

Version Differences

There are several gameplay mechanics that were significantly changed between the NES version and the computer versions.

  • In the computer versions, there were several forms of currency; Platinum, Gold, Silver, Copper, Electrum, Gems, and Jewelry. The NES version only uses Gold and Gems. In addition, party members do not carry currency separately or have the encumbrance stat listed. As a result, you may carry as much gold and gems as you'd like.
  • Players and enemies that used projectile weapons in the computer versions had limited ammunition in the computer versions. In addition to having infinite ammunition in the NES version, you don't need to buy the ammunition separately from the firing weapon.
  • The computer versions use both a decoder wheel (for the player to type in certain passwords to pass through certain areas of the game), as well as journal entries, which the player refers to in the Adventurers Journal, both packaged with the game as a form of copy protection. However, the NES version has most of the journal entries in the game itself, albeit significantly simplified. However, some of the journal entries that weren't adapted to the NES version have critical plot points. The decoder wheel and Adventurers Journal are not used and therefore not included with the NES version's packaging.
    • In addition, in Yarash's Pyramid, at the door just before the boss, the player must enter a certain password before they pass through. If they enter it wrong, then an unseen monster automatically kills all the party members. In the NES version, there is no such feature, so the party can simply go through the door without any hinderance. According to the Clue Book, the unnamed/unseen monster is actually a giant mutated Lizardman.
  • In the computer versions, you could gamble in the taverns. This was removed in the NES version.
  • The training hall in New Phlan had several sections to it in the computer versions. In the NES version, everything is simplified to a single menu.
  • The spell Bless was renamed to Empower, and the spell Prayer was changed to Meditation, in accordance to Nintendo of America's policy against religious references.
  • Battles contain less (and sometimes different) enemies, but on the same token, the amount of party members and NPCs that can be in your party was also shortened.
  • Locked doors in the computer versions that require the knock spell are all unlocked in the NES version, rendering the spell useless.
  • The weapons shop sells a Bastard Sword in the computer versions, but in the NES version, it can only be obtained via a battle.
  • In the computer version, enemies dropped several useless items. In the NES version, they only drop valuable items.
  • Some enemies in the computer versions have additional spells and attacks. For example, Hill Giants can fire boulders at your party, and the final boss can paralyze party members with fear.
  • In the computer versions, there were rare times (in Sokol Keep for example) where the player must manually type a response when parleying with a potential foe. In the NES version, the player selects from a list of responses.
  • The names of the pre-generated characters in the NES version are different from that of the computer versions. All the NPC characters have the same names, though.
  • Before the final showdown with Tyranthraxus, in the computer versions, the player is given a choice for each party member individually whether they want to join Tyranthraxus. The characters that the player responds yes to fight against the player's party in the final battle. However, in the NES version, you are only given the option to choose all party members or none at all. If the player chooses to join Tyranthraxus in the NES version, they are "rewarded" with a Game Over.