RPGreats now has a Discord! Come on in to talk about game music, games in general, submit reviews or just hang out!

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Beneath Apple Manor

Beneath Apple Manor is often cited as an early example of the roguelike genre (even predating the eponymous Rogue!) and quite possibly the first of its kind to be created for a home computer rather than a mainframe.  However, it may not fit the definition in the strictest sense - you are allowed to save your progress and reload to your last save whenever you die, albeit at a hefty cost proportional to your maximum attributes.  Speaking of which, you earn experience by defeating enemies, and by returning to the entrance of the current floor, you can spend ten points to boost the maximum of these attributes by 1 point.  Gold is earned as well, and is naturally used to upgrade your equipment.  One even has the ability to remix the current floor and make it more difficult, which naturally carries greater risk but also offers greater rewards.  Interestingly your stats are also not fixed values, but are instead spent as a resource - attacking depletes Strength, Intelligence powers spells, Dexterity governs how much you can move about, and body is your HP.  Resting restores the former three, though Body can only be restored by a Heal spell.  Spells are quite costly, taking a random (but inevitably large) amount of MP for both attacking and healing restoring that same amount, and monsters can also drain your stats; ghosts in particular will sap your Strength stat permanently, which can really mess you up if you need to kick through a door to get back to the floor entrance and can't.  In effect, the whole game is more about careful resource management than anything.  The game utilizes a fairly clunky keyboard interface, including having your movement controlled by the N S E and W keys, but it makes sense - keyboards of that time period didn't have arrow keys or even a numerical keypad, so they had to make do with other solutions.  While a very primitive game in many respects (especially the original 1978 release, which represented everything with simple squares and took well over a second to process every move), it was also the first game of its kind many people without access to expensive business machines played, and for that alone it deserves some respect.


Developer: Don Worth
Publisher: The Software Factory
Released: 1978 (1982 and 1983 also saw the release of graphically-updated "special editions")
Platforms: Apple II, Atari 8-Bit