Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse

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Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse
Cover art by Jeff Easley
Developer(s)Cyberlore Studios[1]
Publisher(s)Strategic Simulations[1]
Designer(s)Herb Perez
Programmer(s)Ken Grey
Artist(s)Garrett MacArthy
Herb Perez
Genre(s)Action role-playing game

Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse is an action role-playing game for the personal computer set in the Al-Qadim campaign setting of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. The game was developed by Cyberlore Studios and published in 1994 by Strategic Simulations (SSI). The game combines role-playing game and adventure with a simplified interface; the player's character is a young corsair trying to clear his family's name, rescue his betrothed and determine who has been freeing genies from their masters.


A genie becomes freed from his master's control by mysterious forces which are liberating genies for the Nameless Masters.[2] As the story begins, the player character (the son of sultan Zubin Al-Hazrad of Zaratan) is a young man who has just finished his training as a corsair.[2][3] The corsair is betrothed to the daughter of a caliph.[2] The caliph and his daughter are involved in a hurricane-induced shipwreck, which sweeps the girl overboard.[2] The corsair and his family are blamed for the shipwreck;[2][3] he must find his bride-to-be and restore his family's honor.[2][3] The character can interact with his family (including his parents and sister), working to save them from execution;[4] they must also explore the mystery of who has been unleashing genies on the land,[3] and investigate the Genie's Curse.[5]


Unlike the games in SSI's Gold Box series, character generation is greatly simplified. The player chooses a name, by which they are known throughout the game. There is no race, class or skill selection, and play begins immediately.[5] The single player character begins as a 2nd-level corsair, whose statistics are predetermined;[2] the player also cannot change his weapons or armor,[1] although he can eventually improve his starting sword.[2] The character earns experience points by answering puzzles and completing quests, some of which do not involve combat.[3] The character gains levels after accumulating sufficient experience points; gaining levels improves his hit point total, and grants the ability to master new skills for combat.[2]

The game features a simple interface,[3] with icon menus instead of text.[5] Character movement and most object manipulation are controlled by mouse, although the player may use a keyboard or joystick.[2] The player chooses all actions (except movement and projectile weapons) by pressing a single action key (or mouse button), which causes the character to automatically take the correct action with an object; the character either automatically picks up significant objects or can choose to take an object that the character looks at.[2] To talk to characters, or attack monsters with the scimitar, the player moves the character towards the target and clicks.[4] The player selects the difficulty level of the game, which determines the how powerful the monsters are.[2] At the beginning of the game, the player learns how to maneuver the character by moving quickly through a trap-filled dungeon hallway.[4] Al-Qadim features simple, real-time combat, with the character using either one or two weapons simultaneously.[2] The character can use special objects to increase the power of the scimitar, and his ranged weapon is a sling or magic shards which cast various spells.[2] If the character is injured, he can regain hit points with healing potions or be magically healed at special locations.[2]

The game places less emphasis on typical role-playing game elements (such as exploration, combat and magic), favoring adventure-game elements (such as problem-solving and object manipulation)[2] and featuring a smaller world to explore.[3] Travel is shown overhead, including using ships and flying carpets.[2] The character is visible in three-quarter view, but the character and monsters are shown in side view when moving.[4] In many areas, travel is one-directional.[2] Conversations are shown on the screen as text, and the player clicks on which sentences (or phrases) to use.[2] The game includes puzzles and mazes which are important to advancing the plot.[2]


Developer Cyberlore hired a team to create The Genie's Curse shortly after the company was founded in 1992, and it took the company fourteen months to develop the game.[6] It was designed by Herb Perez and produced by Lester Humphreys; the lead programmer was Ken Grey, the art was by Garrett McCarty and Herb Perez and the SSI producer was Bret Berry.[4]

Publication history[edit]

Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse (1994) was one of several games published by SSI from 1992 to 1994 in TSR's settings on a number of game engines,[7] and was later included in the 1996 AD&D Masterpiece Collection compilation set.[8]

For the MMORPG Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands the developer used images from Al-Qadim to finish the title on time despite a low development budget.[9]

The game was re-released in 2015 on with support for Windows, macOS, and Linux.


Substituting for Scorpia,[12] Petra Schlunk reviewed the game for Computer Gaming World. Stating that "SSI has taken a decisive step away from" products like Ravenloft and Dark Sun, she reported that it was "not a standard role-playing game and it is not a standard adventure game. Al-Qadim is a story in which we get to play the main character". While decrying limited player options, Schlunk added that "the story is charming, graphically pleasing [...] of reasonable length [...] and worth 'playing'. In this game, elements of both role-playing and adventure games are blended cleverly with one of the most facile interfaces to date". Schlunk concluded: "Borrowing heavily from the Arabian Nights, Al-Qadim has captured the charm and wonder of those tales".[2]

Computer Shopper praised the game, saying that it "managed to capture the feel of the Al-Qadim setting". The magazine noted the graphics and audio, calling both "typical high-quality SSI offerings";[5] the game's use of honor ("portrayed in a way that isn't trite") was also cited.[5]

PC Gamer UK's Andy Butcher wrote that "Al-Qadim tries hard to be accessible, inoffensive and appeal to the masses, but ... it's unlikely to whet the appetites of either hardened role-players (it's far too superficial) or newcomers (it's got little of a really good RPG's appeal)".[10] In PC Zone, David McCandless summarized the game as "not very good", with "poor" graphics and "awful" combat.[11]

The Genie's Curse was reviewed in Dragon #208 (1994) by Sandy Petersen in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Petersen gave the game four (out of five) stars:[4] he called the game a "heaps of fun" with interesting and exotic environment.[4]

Allen Rausch wrote for GameSpy that Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse was "basically SSI's answer to Nintendo's Zelda games", but "it wasn't a very good answer so often happens when a game tries to appeal to two very different audiences at the same time, neither element was entirely successful". He concluded that the game "had its moments, but it wasn't a game that ever approached the realm of 'classic'".[1] In a similar review for GameSpot, Andrew Park and Elliott Chin felt that the game may not appeal to serious RPG fans.[3]

Michael Hengst, editor of Power Play, called the combination of the 1001 Nights-style Al-Qadim setting with the action-packed gameplay of Zelda successful. Hengst and main tester Volker Weitz described its difficulty as low, and gave it an overall rating of 74 percent.[13]

The game sold in excess of 90,000 copies.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Rausch, Allen (August 17, 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games - Part III". Game Spy. Archived from the original on January 18, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Schlunk, Petra (August 1994). "Adventures in Role Playing". Computer Gaming World. No. 121. pp. 38–40.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Andrew Park, Elliott Chin. "Gamespot's History of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse". GameSpot. CNET. Archived from the original on August 26, 1999. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Petersen, Sandy (August 1994). "Eye of the Monitor". Dragon (208): 64, 66.
  5. ^ a b c d e Terra, John (July 1, 1994). "Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse Review". Computer Shopper. Archived from the original on January 18, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  6. ^ Bednar, Joseph (September 1, 2001). "Making the Games People Play". BusinessWest. Archived from the original on January 18, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  7. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  8. ^ Butcher, Andy (January 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane (2). Future Publishing: 80.
  9. ^ Vrignaud, Andre (October 24, 1997). "Postmortem: SSI's Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands". Gamasutra. UBM, plc. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Butcher, Andy (July 1994). "So-So". PC Gamer UK. No. 8. p. 65.
  11. ^ a b McCandless, David (August 1994). "Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse". PC Zone (17): 52–54.
  12. ^ Scorpia (August 1994). "Scorpia The Avatar". Scorpia's Sting. Computer Gaming World. pp. 29–33.
  13. ^ Weitz, Volker (August 1994). "Beim Barte des Propheten - Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse". Power Play (8/1994): 34–35. Archived from the original (article scan) on August 13, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  14. ^ "Company Info". Archived from the original on January 10, 1997. Retrieved August 13, 2023.

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