Considering it's age, I always find it awesome how you can rotate and zoom in and out (Pg up/Home/End for those who don't know). Honestly, this doesn't do a great deal for enhancing the gameplay, but it really makes the game stand out technologically compared to other games released at the time.
I actually played DK2 before I played the first version, so going back in time in terms of graphics and interactivity is a little different, but actually not too significant. Seems like they pretty much got it right in the first version. I'm especially impressed that it's not just DK2 in which you can possess creatures and go into first person dungeon mode. Again, doesn't do an amazing amount for the gameplay, but is a great feature technologically speaking.
One thing I definitely remember is constantly being badgered by the hints. I always thought they were a little too wordy -- I like things to be to the point. I hardly ever read them though as I just wanted to play the game.
However, clever Bullfrog realised that there are lazy players like me, so after this message is displayed, a flashing icon for the hatchery appears in the toolbar to the right. This is the sort of tutorial I like, one which is integrated with the UI, and gradually opens up options for the player. I suppose, the wordy stuff is handy for players who get confused and have the patience to go back through the messages and read them for hints -- so even though some gamers (like me) are lazy and can't be bothered reading them, they are definitely a vital part of the game's tutorial mechanic.
If you dig around in the options, you'll see options to change the view time from isometric to 2D, draw distance, and raise/lower walls. Interestingly, walls are stubby by default (much shorter than columns in the rooms) but this doesn't seems strange at all until you start screwing around with the wall height.
Enemies (the heros) can freely tunnel through the world to reach your base. It seems like they only dig through walls that you haven't claimed, which is an interesting solution to "how to we stop the enemy from screwing up our nice base?" Imps are slow to claim walls, and I remember something about building doors to try and block off enemies. No doubt though this could have presented developers with an interesting challenge: How can we get the AI to attack the player if they are sealed in? I suppose the answer is that the player needs to defeat the land of the lord in order to win the level, so the player has no choice but to create unprotected tunnels -- so perhaps the problem elegantly solves it's self.
If we could compare the game to Minecraft for a moment: Levels aren't generated, and gold is visible on the map and on screen (everything else is in shroud). This allows the game developers to control the game experience, and gives the player something to aim for.
The first 2 levels of the game are very easy, but still satisfying. Interestingly, the 2nd level doesn't seem much harder than the first, but you're definitely doing more to keep up with the demands of your creatures.
Also, I just noticed at level 3 how cool the sound track is -- the nu-metal/electronic style really helps bring out the "evil" feel of the game. Awesome. Reminds me slightly of the Red Alert sound track.
The tutorial does stall at level 4 (unless I missed something with my lazy attitude towards reading) -- when you finally get a workshop, the game doesn't guide you with the UI on how to use the workshop. I finally remembered after about 20 mins of wondering when something good was going to happen... Ah, you need to pick up the Demon Spawn and drop them in the Workshop -- at this point, they start making doors, etc. Had I been on the development team I would have done/suggested 1 of 2 things: a) improve the tutorial UI so that it nags the player to drop a worker in, or b) make at least 1 worker automatically go to the workshop the first time you create it. That said, adding these workers only causes doors and traps to be created, which isn't much use when I need a bridge! Time to pay a visit to YouTube. To quote that guy "they're annoying because you can't choose which traps are built."I read that you get the ability to build a bridge "after a while" -- but after waiting for a long time, this never came, and there were no hints how to unlock it. Is it a bug, or something I need to do?
That seems to be a good place to wrap this up. I could restart level 4 to try and get a bridge, but maybe another day.