Apocalypse, Archimedes

Apocalypse is a fast-paced, overrated 3D shoot ’em up that was written by Gordon J. Key (the same guy who wrote E-Type) and published by The Fourth Dimension for the Acorn Archimedes in 1990.

The game reminds me of the classic Tau Ceti, except that it’s nowhere near as good as Tau Ceti… You control a hovering saucer craft, called a “Llanerk“, that is sent down to various planets by “The Royal Guild of Spacing” to ‘sterilise’ a number of enemy “Rakonan” units.

The title screen presents you with a list of planets, which you can choose to assault in any order. When you’ve chosen a planet you are then shown an overhead map of the area and can choose where your craft is inserted. The Llanerk is controlled using the mouse, with the right button being fire, the middle mouse button to increase altitude, and the left button moving the craft forward. On the planet surface the enemy installations, and patrolling aircraft, are represented as simple polygonal graphics with ground markings giving you some indication of range and movement.

I was really surprised by Apocalypse. I’d read that it was “a great game“, and that it had also been awarded “extremely high review scores” by someone or other on the internet, but I have to say that it’s not very good at all, and it’s quite an amateurish production. High review scores from “fans” are not a reliable indicator of a game’s quality, and – in the case of Apocalypse – the people raving about it are clearly blind to the game’s flaws.

For starters: there are some terrible spelling mistakes in the game itself, and in the instructions (landing “sight” instead of “site“, and “hear” instead of “here” – doesn’t bode well). I don’t care what anyone says – spelling mistakes should have been ironed-out, just like any coding bugs. And if you’re one of those people who thinks that “it doesn’t matter“, then you can get in the sea… It absolutely matters!

Also: the instructions supplied with the game (in the readme file) make absolutely no sense at all and are very badly-written. They give zero indication of how to actually play the game and are just full of nonsense pseudo science gobbledegook that I can only conclude was supposed to impress, but just comes across as juvenile and amateurish.

As for the gameplay itself: Apocalypse is basic, confusing, and frankly boring. There’s little to do but keep moving forward and firing. The game would’ve benefited from a reverse option on craft movement, but you can’t do that. You can look up and down, if you ascend slightly, but I couldn’t figure out how to land again. I could go up, but I couldn’t come down. It would also have been good to have had some kind of clarity (or at least some basic indication) of your objectives, but instead it’s a dull blast through nowheresville and confusion central.

Which is a pity because Apocalypse could’ve been a decent game. The 3D graphics are alright (certainly nothing special) and the controls are responsive enough, but the actual game itself is half-baked at best. Even the aiming device, on top of the panel at the bottom of the screen, looks more like a candle-holder than an aiming device. I’m afraid that Mr. Key disappeared up his own backside when he made this game and didn’t manage to produce anything worthwhile. Give it a miss, and certainly don’t listen to anyone giving Apocalypsehigh review scores“…

Final note: I did a search on YouTube for videos of people playing Apocalypse to see if I could get a better idea of how to play the game and pretty much all of them show players bumbling their way through a few minutes, without any real understanding of how to play it. One guy, doing a commentary on his half-arsed attempt to play it, admitted that he didn’t know what he was doing, but that he “liked it a lot“, which just made me shake my head in disbelief…

See also: The King of Grabs Archimedes Special

More: Apocalypse on Wikipedia

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