When your Editor isn’t running the show around here, dear reader, he likes to play old Atari games. He grew up with them, after all, and thought it would be nice to revisit some childhood memories.
So it was, around this time back in 2018, that he kicked off his Atari A to Z video series on YouTube, in an attempt to figure out exactly what he wanted to use YouTube for. Some 442 episodes later (plus a bunch of other stuff) he’s still at it, and it occurred to him that it might be of interest to the Retrounite audience. So here’s the latest episode of Atari ST A to Z, taking a look at The Temple of Apshai Trilogy.
The Temple of Apshai from Epyx, in its original form, was one of the earliest computer role-playing games. Initially designed as a means of digitising the basic rules of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, the “Dunjonquest” series, as it became known, gradually expanded to become its own distinct thing, offering a variety of different adventures for computer gamers to challenge on their home micros.
The Temple of Apshai Trilogy, originally released in 1985 (1986 for this Atari ST port) collected together the original Temple of Apshai plus its two expansions The Upper Reaches of Apshai and The Curse of Ra, gave the whole thing a fresh lick of paint — the original games ran in BASIC and didn’t even have a save game system beyond writing your own stats down! — and allowed a new generation of gamers to enjoy the fun and frolics of delving into the long-forgotten corridors of Apshai and beyond.
This Atari ST version was developed by Westwood Associates, who would go on to give us RPG classics such as Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore, as well as the legendary real-time strategy games Dune 2 and Command & Conquer. It offers some notable conveniences over the original 8-bit releases — most notably the fact that most of the text of the “Book of Apshai”, which you used to need to keep by your side while you played to get the most out of the game, is now included in the actual game itself.
Let’s get adventuring!