ROM Computer Magazine Archive ROM MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 — FEBRUARY/MARCH 1984 / PAGE 16


18779 Kenlake P1.NE
Seattle,WA 98155
    Zombies is different! Sure it has the fast action that we've come to expect from recent arcade-style games. Of course the graphics are outstanding and the sound that accompanies the game is inventive and, well, fitting. The game is a challenge to both beginners and experienced alike. So what is the difference? Sounds like a typical arcade-style game,right? Read on, ye of the curious.

Zombies screen

Zombies screen

    First, and foremost, this is a two player game. 'Pshaw',you say, 'most games are'. As told elsewhere in this issue, the creator of Zombies, Mike Edwards, got a little tired of the competition between players and decided that co-operation between players sounded a whole lot better. Thus was created a game (when played in the two-player mode) that demanded co-operation between the two, to their mutual benefit. You see, while fleeing from room to room, both players must push against the side of the screen to get it to scroll to the next room. With this in mind let's see what we are fleeing from.
    You are a mercenary, it seems, who has undertaken the retrieval of the seven magical crowns of the middle kingdoms, each of which has been hidden in a different dungeon by Wistrik, the evil cleric. Along the way, you must overcome infestations of poisonous snakes, starving giant spiders, Wistrik's deadly "Orbs of Evil" and, of course, Zombies. But herein lies another twist of Mike's imagination: there are no weapons to conviently kill off the unwanted beasts. How, besides fleeing, do you escape? First, there are the "32 Talismans of Rhadamanthus" (hereafter called the "crosses"). You can leave a trail of these to impede the movement of any that wish to follow. Unfortunately, this means ANYone, including yourself. When strategically dropped, they can be a great defence against the monsters, but because no-one can "cross" them, they can just as easily trap you. After about 4 seconds they will magically disappear and reappear in your pouch.
    Now, the little beasties have the uncanny knack of chasing after you at a pretty fair clip and often they are more than a person can handle. We need something else to ward off the beasties. Enter,stage right, the magical scroll. Strewn about the dungeons (never more than one per room) we find scrolls which either holds a magical spell or extra hit-points.

Hit Points
    As mike says "we're not cats". Because he's a Dungeons and Dragons(tm) fan, the idea of hit points was a natural. Your player starts out with 50 hit points(60 in two player mode) and each hit by a monster takes off points. Generally the faster beasts are weaker hitters. Making it to the crown and back earns your player an extra 20 hit points. You cannot go back to a previous room until you have retrieved the crown, and that's always in the deepest room of the dungeon. The scrolls that contain hit points will be 5 extra points for 1 player games and 10 extra for two player games. In one player games, if you go below zero, you are dead and the game ends. It's the same for two player game, but you can be resurrected by your partner. If you are both dead, then the game ends.

Magical Spells
    There are three spells which can be found:
    PROTECT spell protects you from the beasts. This means you could walk through them and not get hurt.
    FREEZE spell means the beasts can't move,but if you're dumb enough to run into them, they can still hit.
    CONFUSE spell means that they turn into no-minds and wander aimlessly. If they happen to run into you during their walkabout they can still hit.
    Each of these spells lasts about 4 seconds and will be accompanied by its own distinctive sound. Spells picked up can be shared between players and can be carried over between dungeons.

    The score is increased by the number of hit points you have when you leave a room. In two-player games, the highest hit point total is added. If you're lucky enough to get one of the four high scores (two difficulty levels for each player mode), you get to enter your name onto the disk.
    Whew! Enough of that dry stuff ! Onto the ratings

    After playing the same dungeon about ten times, you will find that you know where the monsters and scrolls will be placed when you enter a room. It then becomes a little easier to escape without being too badly banged up.
    The graphics provide as much entertainment as the game itself. Mike has managed to create the illusion of 3-D admirably, especially in the Realm of the Impossible. I'll leave you with this thought: like the rest of the game, you've got to see it to believe it.

Playability :8.6
Challenge :9.2
Graphics :10
Sound :9.4
Documentation :8.3
Overall Rating :9.4

Gateway to Apshai
Epyx Computer Software
1043 Kiel Court
Sunnyvale,CA 94089
    You are the only blood of Apshai's greatest warrior. You are a son of a hero. You have been commissioned by the powers that be, to clear the way through the Gateway of Apshai. If you want to know exactly why you are doing this, buy the game and read the booklet, but let it suffice to say that you want to save Aunt Bessie's farm, without "buying" yours.
    You start off with a dagger and leather armor but may accumulate other weapons, armor and treasure as you go along. Besides killing monsters, this is the aim of the game. Actually, killing these monsters serves no practical purpose, except when they sometimes get in your way.

Temple of Apshai screen

Temple of Apshai screen

    The ultimate purpose is to clear the dungeons of all nasty creatures. This is rather a difficult task because there are eight levels, each with 16 dungeons for a total of over 7500 different rooms. That's a lot of leg work.
    The immediate purpose is to accumulate points. This is accomplished by picking up treasures along the way. These treasures range from lead to jewels and are worth a varying amount of points depending on the level you're currently on. You are able to carry a vast amount of treasure, as apparently you are a juggler in civilian life.
    In Gateway to Apshai, the joystick and the three function keys are used. Obviously the joystick is for movement. With the "Option" key we can flip through the contents of our bag. By stopping at the item we want and pushing the button of our joystick, we put that item into our hand. Sometimes, the effects of such an action is immediate, such as healing potion or map, while other times it is delayed, such as swords or bow and arrows.
    Next is the "Select" key, which performs a given command. There are five basic commands available:Keys, which will open all doors,Search Spell which will search for hidden doors,Locate Trap,Drop Item and Next Level.
    Finally we have the "Start" key, which puts us in the fight mode. Of the many Adventure games I have seen, this has to be the best fighting sequence of all of them. There are two fight modes: sword or bow and arrow. In sword mode, our warrior must be close enough to hit the monster. By pressing the button, we make the character actually swing the sword and the fight is on. In the bow mode, we wait until the creature is in direct line with us, then press the button. The bow is drawn back and the arrow lets loose. It's these little details that make the fight scenes a highliht.
    Another aspect which I found unique, was the idea of not being able to see what was in a room until you were actually in there. Thus, when the game starts, the screen is covered in a checker-liked pattern and entering a room will dissolve the checked pattern for that room only.

    This would be a far better game if there was a high score saving routine. As it is now, the purpose is to clear out 7500 rooms, while staying alive(although you do have five lives). The score really doesn't seem to matter, as there is nothing to compare it to.
    I got as far as the sixth level where I was blitzed by a deranged Warrior, who didn't want to die, no matter how many times I cracked him with my two-handed sword. If you ever meet the Mamba Snake, you'd better be quick on the keys lest it be your last encounter.
    I have been saying this a lot lately, but the graphics are outstanding. The movement is smooth and fast, the decision time is split-second(sometimes) and the fight scenes are quick and sometimes deadly. A good way to kill a monster is to get it stuck behind something (a wall or a treasure) and then wail on it.
    Overall, this is an excellent game, although it is only a one-player game. If you want to play doubles on this game, have one person on the joystick and the other operating the keys. It could save your life someday.

Gateway to Apshai
Playability :7.1
Challenge :8.6
Graphics :9.8
Sound :7.4
Documentation :8.0
Overall :8.9

The Raving Reviewer