Chaos Strikes Back Description

Chaos Strikes Back is the sequel to Dungeon Master and used the same file formats and almost the identical runtime engine.  Chaos Strikes Back (commonly called 'CSB') is very much like Dungeon Master and anyone who has played Dungeon Master will instantly recognize it and feel completely at home playing CSB.  But first impressions are misleading.  CSB plays very differently.  It is extremely non-linear.  This non-linearity goes beyond the common, simple, multiple-choice.  Like two ways to get from point A to point B.  CSB is non-linear in space and time.  There is no particular order that most things must be accomplished.  There are commonly no particular tasks that must be accomplished.  There are a few (three or four, again depending) keys you must get and a few places you must visit but how you get them and how you get there is very much open to your style of play.  Moreover, many of the interesting objects in the game are distributed at random so that you cannot play the game twice the same.  Even your own movements will appear to be random until you figure out how the dungeon is built.  This game requires you to "learn the ropes" slowly by trial and error and extended exploration.  Very much different from Dungeon Master, in which each hallway guided you to the next stairway.

This game is extremely difficult.  It comes with a "Hint Oracle" that can provide some help.  The Hint Oracle examines your saved game to see where you are currently located in the dungeon and then provides several hints, starting with a general sort of hint and progressing to a complete 'Spoiler'.  So you can choose how much you want to be 'spoiled'.  But even the most direct spoilers are totally insufficient for a walk-through.  You are going to have to work hard to complete this game.  There are many movies available which show complete games.  They vary in length from 20 minutes (yes, that's right.  The game was played in less than 20 minutes.) to 14 hours.  Very different styles of play are represented.  As a beginner, you will require much more than 14 hours to complete the game.

Toni Y played this game after not having played it for a long time.  In the process, he created an Interesting Journal.


For CSBwin (Windows)

Download the CSB zip file.
Extract the files into a folder of your choosing. There are several “Playnnn.bat” files that start the game in various video resolutions. There is a “QuickWalkthrough.bat” that will play a movie of an entire game.

Here is an annotated game of Chaos Strikes Back. Extract everything in a single folder. DoubleClick CSBwin10_101.exe. Click Dungeon. Select menu item 'Misc/Playback'. You can speed things up with the menu selection 'Misc/Quickplay'. The game is complete from start to finish and tells you about the layout of the dungeon and how to solve enough of the puzzles to win the game. Download AnntotatedCSB

For linux using SDL 1.2


For linux using SDL 2.0


For Raspbian (Raspberry Pi)


For PocketPC (Windows CE)

Download the CSB zip file
Unpack all the files into a single directory.  See CSB Game files for a list of files.
Move all the files to a single directory on your PocketPC.


For CSBwin (Windows)
For CSBwinCE (For PocketPC)
Chaso Strikes Back was distributed on two disks for the Atari.  I think this was because of space limitations on bothe the disk and Atari memory.  At any rate, the result is that the game is divided into two parts: 1) Selection of champions and 2) Adventuring.  Here is how to do the several steps that must be done to play the game:

  1. Selection of champions.  Execute CSBwin.  Select "DUNGEON".  At the Prison door, select "Enter".  You will be in the prison and you can walk around and select your Champions by clicking on their portraits.  You can Resurrect them with their old capabilities or you can Reincarnate them and give them a new start in life with new names and titles.  If you examine the walls carefully you may find some surprises and be able to pick up a Champion with special abilities.  Once you have your party selected, you can save the game (right click in the viewport and click on the little floppy disk icon).  Click on "Save and Quit" and give it one of four names.  Terminate CSBwin with the 'File/Exit' menu.

  2. Creating a new game to play.  Execute CSBwin.exe.  Select "UTILITY".  This function take the party you selected in step 1) and places it in the dungeon to begin adventuring.  Select the name of the game where you saved your party in step 1).  You will see the portraits of all your party members.  On the Atari, you could edit the protraits and do other no\ice things but when using CSBwin all you can do is "Make New Adventure".  So click on "Make New Adventure".  You will see a menu with the option to "Make New Adventure" again.  Select "Make New Adventure" for the second time.  Then select a name for the new game.  You can use the same name as your party selection game if you wish.  Then Click "QUIT" (on the PocketPC version, the word "QUIT" is hidden by the fact that the entire Utility screen is not shown.  Instead, you can simply choose "Exit" from the "File" menu at the bottom of the screen).  You now have a saved game that you can "RESUME".

  3. Adventuring.  Execute CSBwin.exe.  Select "DUNGEON".  Select "RESUME".  Select the name of the game you saved.  The first time you start adventuring you will find yourself naked, in the dark, and surrounded by worms.  At this point you may throw up your hands and go play Dungeon Master again.  Getting out of this predicament requires some practice.  Like everything in CSB.  Practice, practice, practice.  But it is easy.  Just like riding a bicycle.  Once you know how.  There is an iron door in this room.  Just in front of the door is a pressurepad that causes more worms to be created.  Avoid that, for starters.  There is a scounce (torch holder) that will open an alternative exit if you place a torch there.  There is a trick wall that leads to some nicer clothes.  End of spoilers.  Good luck.

  4. Using the Hint Oracle.  Execute CSBwin.exe.  Select HINT.  Select LOAD.  Select the name of the saved game for which your party needs some hints.  There are generally two types of hints: Descriptions of the creatures on the party's level and hints for the party's particular location in the dungeon.  Pressing NEXT provides more detailed hints.


"I haven't played CSB for many years but its etched forever in my nightmares."

 -- a quote i can't find, "DM does... while CSB does ... " - i'm sure Paul C (slide) said it, but can't see it yet, still looking  --

DM gently guided you in a linear fashion and introduced you to puzzles, dungeoneering, monsters and its world. CSB slaps you right into the centre of a complex non-linear dungeon of insane interconnectivity. Naked. In the dark.

The only way it could be worse is if you were poisoned and wounded. Though of course since you are surrounded by worms and a few moments from being completely trapped by them, then this isn't far off in coming : )

That doesn't make this game bad. It makes it a shock. But no matter how many times you get killed, which you will, and how many times a puzzle infuriates you, which it also will, there is something about the it that pulls you back in. The fact that it's the sequel to beloved DM will keep you trying to start with. Then actually starting to work out the logic of the dungeon keeps you hooked.

In DM you could carefully sculpt a party, watch it grow and puzzle with the dungeon. In CSB you have powerful champions, what you need to do it push them and yourself to the limits. This isn't a game for someone who has never played DM. It is not necessarily a game for someone who has mastered DM and fused Chaos every day for a year either. Both experienced and not will  find challenges, as CSB rewards not just knowing how to take on four creatures at once and swiftly cast fireballs without thought. The dungeon is so different to DM that you start off in a similar place.

Realising the meaning of puzzles. Realising the layout of the dungeon. Realising that you have actually increased in skills in a game you thought you had mastered with DM.

Gameplay - 9 - sometimes you just need to keep getting killed and trying things again and again. Other times you just need to persevere. Sometimes you need to be able to use all your fighting skills, and other items you need to be able to spot the subtle tricks. CSB tests all your skills.

Originality - 9 - it has the same decorations, many of the same monsters, and is still the same endless grey walls. The fact that there are new monsters and weapons makes a slight difference. The fact that it is so different in logic and feel to DM is what makes it completely fresh.

Difficulty - 10 - until you learn its logic, lack of logic, and many secrets, you will die alot, and scream at areas alot.

Puzzles - 7 - there are some nice ones. There are some hideously obscure ones. Figuring out the DDD is nightmarish. It's sometimes luck if you manage

to gain the answer before you lose all sanity.

Size - 7 - its 10 packed levels, though you might not appreciate it. Doesn't feel as large as DM once you master it.

Replayability - 10 - it's very non-linear with many secrets, and you have the choice of DM or starting party or even reincarnation for increasing difficulties for new challenges.

Craft - 9 - its exactly the same engine. So some of the ways things done are genius. Such as random object placement - there is no randomise function in

the engine. Pure dungeon mechanics. Some of the puzzles too are clever and subtle.

Game Ending - 5 - a let down. The sense of satisfaction and achieving it is the main thing. But there is no solid 'Fuse chaos' ending. You destroy the last corbum and that is it. Game over. Of course, there is a whole level to fight through to do that, so it's not completely easy.

Atmosphere - 5 - its very disconnected. So while fun to solve, I have never felt a build up of atmosphere in terms of story. But it does have very claustrophobic atmosphere. You are never more than a few steps from danger.  A stairwell or false wall may be all that stands between you and another

insane fight/puzzle.

Best part - solving the puzzles. Watching corbums burn. The start once you realise how to get the most from it. The Neta path (first half)

Worst part - its not DM. You don't get the linear story. Triggering floods and some insanely complex mechanics and puzzles like the DDD.


for a running commentary of the game from the prospective of two people starting it and experienced people commenting on it. Includes Toni Y's play in original form.