The Commodore 64 version of the classic Atari 8-bit helicopter shooter, Fort Apocalypse, was ported by Joe Vierra and published by Synapse Software in North America in 1982. US Gold published the game in Europe slightly later.
The player is free to move in any direction and the screen scrolls as the helicopter flies around. Your chopper dips its nose as it flies forward and can fire bullets out the front, but it cannot fly backwards. It can, however, turn to face the screen and shoot downwards.
The cave you’re exploring is divided into four separate sections and two of them contain landing pads that act as re-start points. When you’ve collected the prerequisite number of prisoners you must then find a different landing pad (the one that says “land here“) and land on it to go to the next level. There’s also a refuelling pad where you can go to take on extra fuel, should you run low.
Enemy helicopters patrol certain areas and will try to shoot you down if they detect you and ground-based rocket-launchers will also fire missiles at you. These you must avoid or destroy at all costs. A scrolling map at the top of the screen helps show hostile forces in advance.
The C64 version is more or less the same as the Atari 8-bit original although dodging rockets is a little trickier in places and shooting away at the landscape seems a little easier, so it’s give and take in terms of comparisons.
Fort Apocalypse remains playable, challenging and fun. In 1982 it was pretty cutting edge. Now, it’s still a decent game and has aged well considering that it’s 40 years old.