Moby ID: 12632


Ancipital is a typical Jeff Minter game with no storyline and an unusual setting. You play the role of what looks like a yak which can walk on two legs and shoots at enemies with bananas. At least in the first screen; the projectiles change in different levels. You can jump and flip upside down onto the ceiling to attack your foes.

The gameplay involves you shooting at enemies until the floor or walls change to let you move to the next screen which can be seen on the map in the corner of the screen. Each level has different themes ranging from skull and crossbones to cigarette papers and lighters. There are 100 different levels in the game.


Credits (Commodore 64 version)

Created by
Music and Sound effects
Cover design



Average score: 82% (based on 6 ratings)


Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 4 ratings with 1 reviews)

The tactical beauty within this beast

The Good
This is one of my all-time favourites games for the commodore 64. Challenging even far more acknowledge games as; Impossible Mission, Wizball and Leader board. This is the best tactical shooter I have ever played - and one of the best tactical game ever developed for a computer - including the high modern designs off today for the PC, playstation etc.

The game consist of 100 single screen rooms - arranged in a 10 times 10 grid. With the exception of the rooms at the edge of the grid, each room has 4 walls which can be opened; right - left - up and down. With very few limitations this means you are able to take any route you find suitable throughout the grid. But the walls can only be opened once. And the masterpiece of this design is; every time you open a wall some health is replenished. A very tiny detail - but one which make all the difference.

What initially looks like a very odd game, with a misplaced attempt to make funny graphics and very dull backgrounds and sound effects, turn out to be a real corker of a game, when you get around one third into the game. (Which unfortunately most never will have the patience to). By then it will dawns on you - this game needs planning. And more important - it is fun to plan.

The secret lies in the limited number of options, with only two possibility for each decision - from which room do I want to open this wall - where and when do I need the health? With such limited alternatives, you're able to get an exact knowledge of the consequences of each choice. And this is what make planing such a joy.

Some rooms is a walk in the park - others leave you fighting for your live. Some rooms boost your score beyond believe - others offers practically no points. Some rooms must be entered to get a key, before other parts of the game can be unlocked. So which rooms do you want to enter with plenty of health, in attempt to maximizing your score. Which rooms do you leave with 3 unlocked walls, so you can regain your drained energy later on? In completing this game planning is as important as reflexes and action skills. And if you want to beat Jeff Minters score (the author has provided his high-score in the instructions), planning is essential.

And then it's suddenly dawns on you - its not an odd idea that the goat can walk upside-down - its a naturally part of the game. And those peculiar graphics is actually very well designed - since they should be able to move in four directions without being to confusing.

The controls is very good - without reaching the standards of Wizball, Impossible Mission and Leader board. But it will still be your own fault when you die. And since this game is first and foremost about tactical decision and planning your route through the grid - the emphasis on joy-full controls and playability ain't as high as those truly arcade oriented games.

The game has more depth than most for this station - especially of the action oriented games. Personally I'm convinced that this game could make the bridge for many gamers who insist on playing their type of games - arcade or strategy.

The Bad
Well the sound is nothing to write home about, without being annoying. But the don't add anything to the game.

The in-game-presentation and end-game sequence is disappointing - even by commodore standards. And the graphics is odd - and technically not very good - even though you end appreciate them.

The playability could be better. The controls take around 10 minutes to get used to, and the way the game works is originally enough to be a little off-putting. This game requires patience. The first 16 rooms (4 times 4) isn't enough to unlock what this game has to offer. You have to get beyond the first 32 rooms, before the deeper game mechanism unveils.

The Bottom Line
Tactical gaming when its best. And it's remarkably that it takes a shoot-em-up game to really show, how this should be done. This game is the computer game equivalence of chess - with a limited number of choices - making you plan ahead instead of learning a strategy - meaning a particular pattern of action. Ancipital is overlooked classic that should be looked up by game designers of today.

Commodore 64 · by René Pedersen (9) · 2008



The Ancipital character first appeared in previous Llamasoft release Sheep in Space and was inspired by the Helliconia novels by Brian Aldiss.


  • Zzap!
    • May 1985 (Issue 1) - #10 It's the Zzap! 64 Top 64!


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by festershinetop.

Antstream added by firefang9212. Windows added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: FatherJack, 64er.

Game added March 30, 2004. Last modified March 14, 2024.