Space Cavern

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Space Cavern
The cover of Space Cavern.
Developer(s) Games by Apollo
Publisher(s) Games by Apollo
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release date(s) August 25, 1982
Genre(s) Action game
Mode(s) Single-player, two-player

Space Cavern is a 1982 shooter video game for the Atari 2600, developed and released by Games by Apollo. The game features players controlling the commander of a spaceship which has landed on a planet full of creatures known as Electrosauri, who attempt to attack the crew of the ship. The player must defend the ship by shooting the enemies. Games by Apollo founder Pat Roper, particularly impressed with the game Demon Attack, wanted to make a game very similar to it and tasked Apollo member Dan Oliver with creating it. The game was later re-released as Space Canyon.


A screenshot of Space Cavern; the player is seen near the bottom.

In Space Cavern, players control a commander of an intergalactic spaceship which is traveling through a previously unknown area in space. The spaceship lands on a mysterious planet inhabited by Electrosauri, who attempt to attack the crew of the ship.[1]

The player is situated at the bottom of the screen. Moving the joystick left and right moves the character, while moving it up fires left and down fires right. Pressing the button fires upward. The player must shoot the creatures, which come from up and down. If the player touches the beams from the creatures, they lose a life. An extra life is awarded every 2,000 points.[2]

24 variations are included in Space Cavern, with each being playable by one or two players. The variations include the number of enemies, their speed, and the direction of their lasers.[2]


Space Cavern was developed by Games by Apollo. Company founder Pat Roper had flown programmer Ed Salvo out to a Consumer Electronics Show and showed him the Imagic video game Demon Attack. Roper, impressed with Imagic's game, decided he wanted to produce one similar to it. He gave developer Dan Oliver the ideas of what he wanted in the game, without disclosing his inspiration. A port for the Atari 5200 was in development, but it was never released.[3]

Release and reception[edit]

Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame 2/5 stars[4]
Arcade Express 7/10[5]

Games by Apollo released the game on August 25, 1982.[6] Game publisher Panda re-released Space Cavern under the title Space Canyon the following year; the two games are exactly alike.[7]

The reviewer for Arcade Express magazine was positive about Space Cavern, grading the game a 7 out of 10. The review praised the graphics of the player's death, while criticizing the design of the enemies, and finished the review by saying "This is a very tough game, best suited to experienced, skilled players who find ordinary "Space Invaders" just a lark."[5] TV Gamer's review criticized it for being too simple and not requiring much brainpower.[8]

Brett Alan Weiss, writing for Allgame, gave the game two out of five stars. Weiss wrote the game was not "a particularly engaging gaming experience" and referred to it as "an interesting failure. The designers had a couple of good ideas, but the execution of those ideas in conjunction with the shoot-'em-up action is second rate."[4] In his book Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984 Weiss discussed Space Cavern further, opining that the game's box art was better than the actual game.[7] On November 12, 1982, a few months after Space Cavern's release, Apollo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, due to pressure from its advertising agency Benton & Bowles as Apollo owed the company $4.5 million. Although Roper expected Apollo to return in "smaller form",[9] the company closed in 1983 after reorganization attempts failed.[10]


  1. ^ "Atari 2600 Manual: Space Cavern". Games by Apollo. Internet Archive. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Schwartz, Michael; Dykman, Joan. "Space Cavern - Overview". Allgame. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ Stilphen, Scott. "DP Interviews... Ed Salvo". Digital Press. Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Weiss, Brett. "Space Cavern - Review". Allgame. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Space Cavern". Arcade Express. Internet Archive. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Space Cavern". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Weiss, Brett (March 7, 2012). Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984: A Complete Reference Guide. McFarland. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7864-8755-4. 
  8. ^ "Space Cavern". TV Gamer. Internet Archive. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Vid Game Firm Apollo Files Chapter XI". Billboard. December 4, 1982. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  10. ^ "AGH -- Third Party Profile: Apollo". Atari HQ. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]