Temple of Apshai (1979)

Tabletop RPGs and commercially available videogames were basically happening at the same time. Folks making RPGs recognized the potential for computer versions of their games early on and, in fact, the first computer versions of D&D, dnd and pedit5, both for the PLATO teaching system, appeared in 1975. Temple of Apshai (1979) was one of, if not the, first dungeon crawl videogame for home computers (Richard Garriott’s Akalabeth saw a limited informal release in 1979, but Apshai beat it to commercial release).

I’ve waxed ecstatic about Apshai before. It is a fantastic little game for the time, featuring a series of four dungeons totaling over 200 rooms among them. You basically explore them, fighting monsters and finding treasures along the way. The rooms in-game are just walls and a black floor — you have to check out the manual for evocatively written room descriptions. I kind of love that.

I picked this up specifically in the hopes that the manual had more art by Mike Mott, who did all the interior illustrations for the manual of the 1985 remake. No such luck! Though Karen Gerving’s illustrations have a charm to them.

Oh, and these are on tape, which is novel. My mom saw them and could not wrap her brain around the idea of programs on tape (we never had a tape drive) and that struck me as amusing for some reason, since she was an adult when they were a thing, you know?

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