We’ve reached the end of our second spell (no pun intended) with Epyx’s wonderful Temple of Apshai Trilogy; this time we take on the final part, Curse of Ra, on the Atari ST.
Westwood’s 1986 port of Temple of Apshai Trilogy for Atari ST is one of the more convenient and enjoyable ways to play the game. The mouse controls and menus work well, the ability to get the room descriptions with the tap of a key is wonderful — it would have been nice to have the treasure descriptions, too, but I guess there was only so much text they could squeeze in!
The meaning of “platform game” has changed quite a bit over time; back in the earlier days of home computing, however, it had quite a distinct meaning. And Jumpman Junior from Epyx was pretty much a textbook example.
You have a single screen at a time. There are platforms and, often, ladders — hence the genre also being known as “platforms and ladders”. You have a thing to do — usually “collect all the thingies” or “get to the top”. And there are things trying to stop you — including the very environment you’re clambering all over! All of this is true for Jumpman Junior. And it’s still a highly enjoyable game today!
First-person shooters came about with Wolfenstein 3-D, right? Wrong! Not only did they not come about with Wolfenstein 3-D’s spiritual precursors in the Catacomb series, they date right back to the ’80s and Lucasfilm’s incredible work on Atari 8-bit.
The Eidolon uses the same fractal landscape engine as the company’s classic Rescue on Fractalus, but here it’s used to create labyrinthine cave systems filled with terrifying monsters. Can you make it out alive, or will you become a dragon’s dinner? Only one way to find out!
We return once again to The Temple of Apshai Trilogy for Atari ST, this time to explore the first “expansion” section: The Upper Reaches of Apshai.
The Upper Reaches of Apshai is noteworthy in that it takes a rather more light-hearted and experimental approach to the game’s core dungeon crawling; it has you picking berries and cleaning up rampant tomato patches rather than battling your way through vanilla-scented ant-men. And the Atari ST version is a great way to experience it!
The Temple of Apshai and its later Temple of Apshai Trilogy “remaster” are best known as 8-bit titles, but the latter actually got a port to Atari ST in 1986 — by Westwood, no less.
The ST version is, as it turns out, pretty good. It not only incorporates all the classic gameplay into a friendly GEM interface, it also includes all the room descriptions from the Book of Apshai into the game itself, making for a much more convenient way to play.
Early takes on the racing game genre often seem quite primitive by today’s standards — but some of them still had some ambitious ideas.
Epyx’s Pitstop for Atari 8-bit is a good example. While its game structure is fundamentally flawed if playing solo and its racing action is nothing special, it was the first game to not only incorporate pit stops as part of a race, but also to allow you to take control of your pit crew and actually perform the pit stop yourself.
While The Temple of Apshai is the most well-known of Epyx’s “Dunjonquest” games, there were actually quite a few games released under this banner.
Not all of them were massive, sprawling affairs intended to be played over the long-term, either. The Datestones of Ryn is a great example of this, offering a short, twenty-minute quest with a fixed player character and a rather arcadey focus on high scores and replayability.
It’s time for a biggie! A truly genre-defining game, at that — although its real influence perhaps wouldn’t become truly known on the mainstream side of gaming until quite some time after its original release.
I’m talking about the legendary Rogue, of course, which has an interesting story behind its original creation — and whose Atari ST version is one of the best ways to play out there. This edition, published by Epyx and put together by one of the game’s original creators, is an accessible and friendly way to enjoy some dungeon crawling — and a great way to kick off a roguelike addiction if you don’t already have one!
Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for multi-sport athletics games, and it’s a genre of game we don’t tend to see all that often any more. Hence, I often find myself looking back to retro games to get my fill.
One of the earliest games of this type I remember playing was Winter Games by Epyx — this may well have been the very first game I ever played on our Atari ST, in fact; it was certainly one of the first pieces of software we owned for the machine, anyway — and one of the first games my brother ever reviewed, kicking off a lifelong career in the games press and surrounding fields.
Enjoy my questionable wintry athleticism in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
Our adventures in the Temple of Apshai Trilogy are finally coming to an end as we delve into the third part: Curse of Ra.
This particular module is designed for adventurers who have spent a bit of time gaining experience and gathering equipment in The Temple of Apshai and The Upper Reaches of Apshai, and as such is pretty tough.
It does, however, present some of the most interesting, well-crafted dungeon designs in the whole series, though, so it’s worth exploring if you think your character is up to the challenge!
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