Legend of the Green Dragon
Long, long ago, before hot and cold running internet could be piped right into your home, forward thinking citizens dialed into bulletin board systems (BBS) via modem to download files, read forums, look at ansi art or, of course, to play games.
Known as door games, these programs acted as a door from the BBS software to another program and often emphasized user interaction and competition. One of the most successful was Seth Able Robinson's Legend of the Red Dragon, an original and humorous RPG released when the author was only 14.
Legend of the Green Dragon (LoGD) is a free, browser based homage to, and extension of, the original. Eric Stevens has done an excellent job preserving Able's style while adding tons of new features, characters and monsters, as well as vastly enlarging the world to include multiple cities and an afterlife. LoGD is written in PHP and is highly extensible. Different servers can offer very different experiences, so this review refers only to the classic server. A large list of others is available here.
All action in the game is performed by clicking links in a toolbar or using convenient hotkeys. Turns, in the form of forest battles, are doled out every 12 hours, which is equivalent to one game day. Combat is simple but effective and PvP is allowed, though you may opt out. A flawless forest fight earns you a free turn; a good or lucky session of LoGD can be like riding a wave, each battle perpetuating the next.
As a new player you'll choose from a fairly typical selection of races and classes. There is a bit of hand-holding in the form of a beginners island with a helpful fairy, but the majority of LoGD is left for the player to discover. I won't reveal much more, as the distinct humor of the game makes the learning process appealing and fun. Don't be afraid to spend money, explore strange areas in the forest, or interact with bizarre NPCs. Very little you do can cause serious permanent damage, and there is a lot to gain by finding out what various people and places are for.
Analysis: Legend of the Green Dragon is a fitting tribute to a little known classic. However, the text based gameplay, fantasy setting and multiplayer environment make it important to note that LoGD is not an MMORPG, nor a MUD. Player interaction is minimal, limited to message boards and mail. The low number of levels available for advancement and limited forest fights per day make the maligned and potentially unhealthy level grind common to many MMORPGs impossible. In fact, though predating modern MMORPGs, LoGD seems designed as a response to current trends; limited by the number of turns each day, the player benefits by spending time efficiently and defeating the dragon as quickly as possible. Rather than simply rewarding those who have the most free time, everyone is on more equal footing. LoGDs simple gameplay and fun, well-writen encounters make sure the 15 or 20 minutes spent on each session are never a chore. Look for me as Moonside on the classic server!