Gateway To Apshai
Requirements: Atari (cartridge), Coleco Adam (cartridge), or a Commodore 64 (cartridge or disk). All versions require a joystick.
Epyx has tapped our yearning for adventure once again with Gateway to Apshai, a graphics adventure game that puts the fate of a once-great kingdom into your untested hands.
Your people, it seems, are in the grip of disaster. Crops are failing; flocks are in steady decline. According to legend, things will improve once the lost Temple of Apshai is rediscovered and reclaimed—but so far no one has been able to succeed. Swamp rats, giant bats, and vicious mamba snakes are bad enough, but you've also got to contend with garish ghouls and hungry molds. Then there are hidden pits and other traps, sometimes cunningly disguised as treasure. There's even a teleportation trap that picks you up and drops you back who knows where.
The title screen warns you it's a game for thinkers, and rest assured: You won't get out of this one without a measure of mental exertion. When should you fight? Where should you run? What weapon? Which shield? Healing potion or confusion spell?
A status screen displays your vital signs—strength, agility, and luck—as well as your overall health. It shows your score, how many lives are left, and what level you're on. By pressing the joystick button, you can check your supplies. Pressing the button again brings up a third screen—perhaps the most important to your survival—which shows what's in your hands. Simply finding a weapon, armor, or spell is not enough; you must be holding it, too.
There are eight levels to the Apshai labyrinth, and on each level you can choose any one of 16 different dungeons. To complete the game, you must explore one dungeon on each level; once you've mastered one set of dungeons, you can select a different set to make later games as exciting as the first. A little figuring reveals that there are 128 different dungeons, each with a unique floor plan. With roughly 60 rooms per dungeon, that gives you more than 7500 different rooms to explore. You won't get tired of this game in a weekend.
There are hundreds of adventure games available these days, and many have impressive titles and credits. But the real question is not one of cover art or advertising hype. Instead, you want to know if the game is worth an investment of money and time. Does it fire the imagination? Is it challenging?
In the case of Gateway to Apshai, I can answer each question with an unqualified "yes." As you concentrate on the game, you'll soon be hopelessly caught up in the fate of that little guy on the screen. It's easy to get carried away with Gateway to Apshai. I jumped every time one of those swamp rats appeared. My sword arm got sore from gripping the hilt of the joystick, and there are wrinkles in my permanent-press armor from hours in front of the monitor.
Gateway to Apshai
1043 Kiel Court
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
$39.95 (Atari & Commodore 64)
$53.00 (Coleco Adam)