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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (42000)
Written on  :  Aug 13, 2013
Rating  :  3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars
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The roots of Apogee Software starts with this excellent text-based game

The Good

I always thought that a high-profile company known as Apogee Software started in the early ‘90s, with games such as Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein 3-D, and Commander Keen. This was the time when the founder, by the name of Scott Miller, developed the “Apogee Model”, where you could download the first episode of their games for free, then try it out. If you then liked the game, you could send a small fee to the company to obtain the full version.

Like possibly many other people, I did not even know that the company started in the mid-’80s. Back then, the Apogee Model didn’t exist, and instead you were encouraged to send a small fee to Miller at an address in Texas, but try doing that now, and it would probably be sent back to you. The first game he created was a text adventure called Beyond the Titanic, in which the player has to escape the legendary Titanic before it sinks and make their way back to America. Meanwhile, they get to navigate a series of caverns, explore a decommissioned saucer, and even travel through time.

People who have already played text adventures, mostly from Infocom, will feel right at home with the game’s interface. The layout is similar, with the score and location at the top of the screen, followed by the text description and a prompt where you type commands that the game recognizes. One of the most important commands in the game is DIAGNOSE, which you can enter to let the game tell you whether you are in perfect health. There are some occasions where you can hurt yourself, and you need to find a healing suite, otherwise the game limits the number of items you can carry. With the descriptions, not only did I read them, I could really picture what each room looked like.

Before the game, you are given the option of running it in monochrome or color. The former is useful for anyone who only had a monochrome card back in the day, while the latter makes everything stand out and the descriptions easy to read. You also can select the number of disk drives you have. Standard PC configurations usually have two drives, so that you can put the program disk in Drive A: and your save disk in Drive B:. But if you have only one, prepare to do some disk swapping. Also, if you are lucky to obtain a PC with a hard drive you can install the game onto that, but you still need a save disk. The good thing about the save disks is that you can store about 125 files on the one disk, since the files are really small! Since there is no such thing as an interface in this game, you better write down what you name your saves as, in case you might forget. This happened to me more than once.

There is sound in the game, but since Titanic was released at a time when sound cards were not released, the game utilizes the PC Speaker. There is virtually no sound in the early parts of the game, but when you get inside the saucer and then proceed onwards, you hear doors opening and closing, sounds of your gun going off, and the time machine taking you back in time.

I think that people who sent in money to Miller got a sheet that not only includes hints for this game, but also for Miller’s upcoming game Supernova. These days, walkthroughs for the game are hard to find on the Internet, and the only one I found was inaccurate. I feel like playing this game again, just to make a proper walkthrough for MobyGames, and to preserve it for anyone who is having trouble.

The Bad

There is one part of the game I found annoying, and that is where you fall down this crater and are trying to get out, because there is this monster that appears at random intervals and steals one of your items. So I needed to restore the game about ten times just to avoid him. Also, it doesn’t help matters that the way out keeps changing places every time you restore.

A feature could have been implemented in the game where pressing a key brings up a history of commands that you have entered. This would have been ideal in case you made a typo. It would have been useful to avoid repeating the same commands over and over just to achieve the one task.

The Bottom Line

Not many people know that the Apogee we know and love started life in the ‘80s, starting with this colorful text adventure that features sound and many fascinating locations. It is released as freeware on 3D Realms' web site now, so anyone who was an Apogee fan back in the day should check it out to see where their roots began. It still requires the use of a floppy drive to save and load games, however, and you might want to save often because this adventure probably won't take a day to complete.