I won’t pretend to be the best at these search action style games. Hell I won’t even pretend to be good at them. I will however say I love them more than lunch. Granted they are more text than adventure. Each action bound to a key. G for “get” Q for “Quaf” or O for “Open” is definitely cumbersome yet oddly satisfying as for a way to bridge the gap from text only games to something with a graphic user interface. It’s not as bad the growing pains from letter binds to menus. Dragon Quest/Warrior shows how frustrating you can make a menu system for your RPG like Earthbound taught us how well it can work with just a little tweak. Plus Temple if Apshai has random encounters as well.
BAM! a rat just popping from the wall, or a skeleton sneaking up behind you. These moments got their start here. I know it’s often said about the oddest things, but I can’t imagine how my favorite games would be without these trembling baby steps to help them find inspiration from the start. To already have examples of how a game can be both action and strategy.
Take for example Final Fantasy on the NES. That game has openly been compared to Dungeons and Dragons. They went off a pen and paper template for better or worse. As such it has so many design elements that eventually get culled. Limited number of spell casts per day/ sleeping at an Inn or with a tent is the best example of a dated system they could have avoided if they looked more at Temple of Apshai. Not like it was hard to miss.
This game series came out on like every dang computer back then.
Like for real man, it was everywhere. Though like Pigs or Silly Slammers being everywhere doesn’t mean you will be remembered. I mean I had to set up a Commodore 64 emulator just to remember it’s dang name. Little did I know you could just play it online.
Minimal plot, minimal action, and minimal quality of life sums up my honest objective review on any of the Apshai games. I mean even when I was younger I just played them in school like most play Oregon Trail. That is to say it was better than doing school work. So I can’t recommend someone try to actually beat these games. That said you should atleast check them out. See how far you can go before frustration sets in. You will not only get a bigger appreciation of the games we have today you will be able to bridge that gap between then and now. Like say… knitting or brewing your own beer. The game is antiquated enough that successfully playing it feels novel and satisfying.
You’ll need that. I know I should have used it, but noooooo I thought I could just remember the inputs. Like most Atari games for me, Apshai is a good way to unwind. Try not to judge it based on just the gameplay. I mean most games of it’s generation were rather simple. Shoot aliens, stop missiles, eat all the pellets, or stop a big barrel tossing monkey. Apshai wanted to be more. For awhile it really was with over 200,000 copies sold. Trust me that was a lot back then. Heh, back then, I don’t have a lot of memories from the pre internet world. I do however have plenty of fond memories sitting in my room on a summer evening. The fan humming, crickets chirping outside, and my hand me down Atari glowing from my dumpster found floor TV being the only source of light around. Cold frozen pizza tossed on a plate next to an increasingly flatter Pepsi and feeling like not only my family but the whole world is asleep around me.
That is why I still love these games. For lack of a better term they are my safe place. A brief escape to a moment when my biggest concern was do I use the controller with the wonky D-pad or the one with sticky buttons. So do yourself a favor and just play some old games as they used to be enjoyed. Turn off the phone, don’t Google any walkthroughs or cheats, and wait until your house is quiet and all yours. I promise, it will be worth it.