Temple of Apshai

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Temple of Apshai
Temple of Apshai cover.png
Cover art for Apple II and TRS-80
Developer(s) Epyx
Publisher(s) Epyx
Designer(s) Jim Connelley
Platform(s) DOS, Apple II, VIC-20, Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, TRS-80, Amiga, Macintosh, Commodore PET
Release date(s) August 1979[1]
Genre(s) Dungeon crawl
Mode(s) Single-player

The Temple of Apshai is a role-playing video game from Epyx. The game was first released for the TRS-80 in 1979 under their original Automated Simulations company name, but was followed by an updated version on the Apple II and Atari home computers in 1980 under the new Epyx brand. In 1983, it was released for the Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, and IBM PC compatibles. Even later it was made available with improved graphics for the Amiga and Atari ST home computers. Temple of Apshai was the first title in what became the Dunjonquest series.

Temple of Apshai was an enormous success for its era, selling 20,000 copies by 1980 and remaining a best-seller for four years.[2][3] It won numerous awards,[4] and sold 40,000 copies by the end of 1982.[5] It remained a benchmark among graphical adventure games for years.[6]

It was programmed and designed by Jim Connelley, who also served as chairman of Epyx Software. In Connelley's own words, he created Temple of Apshai because he recognized the popularity of noncomputer role-playing games and he believed it would be possible to create a graphics-oriented adventure game. At the time, this was a pioneering innovation in role-play gaming.


The company's advertisements for what the company described as "the greatest fantasy adventure you've ever experienced" promised "over 200 rooms and catacombs in which lurk more than 30 kinds of monsters and beasts ready to do you in — in real time — before you can reach any of the 70 or so treasures waiting for the hero". The TRS-80, Apple II, and PET versions were $24.95 on cassette and $29.95 on disk.[7] The player assumes the role of an adventurer who explores the mysterious ruins of the Temple of Apshai. This player character investigates room after room of this dungeon setting while seeking treasure and combatting monsters. Along the way, the player discovers powerful weapons and armor with which to overcome the Temple's inhabitants. Like many early role-playing games, Temple of Apshai records player statistics, which increase through accumulation of experience rewarded for defeating monsters and acquiring treasure. The object of the game is to develop the adventurer's capabilities to further escape from the dungeon.

The set layout of levels in Temple of Apshai permitted use of printed descriptions of the many rooms; it was the first computer role-playing game to do so.[8] Pen-and-paper role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons frequently make use of verbal depictions given by dungeon masters to suggest to players what is of interest in a setting. Similarly, in Temple of Apshai the player matches an on-screen room number to its entry in the manual that accompanies the game. One sample entry reads in part, "The aroma of vanilla makes the senses reel [...] Gems stud the south wall". To the player, the aroma suggests the presence of a giant ant, and the gem-studded wall might conceal a passage leading to treasure.


A Mosquito appears!. Typical gameplay of Temple of Apshai.

Two add-ons to Temple of Apshai were released: Upper Reaches of Apshai and Curse of Ra. Both were developed by fans of the Temple of Apshai games and required the original game and expanded play through the introduction of additional content, including a total of 12 levels, 568 rooms and 37 monsters. This trilogy was later released as a whole as the The Temple of Apshai Trilogy, which unified look-and-feel while improving both graphics and sound.

Epyx also produced two prequel, the action-oriented Gateway to Apshai and The Datestones of Ryn. It also released a sequel, Hellfire Warrior.


Compute! stated that Temple of Apshai for the PET "is for anyone who is tired of simple 'video games' ... [it] is quite an experience". It advised readers to be aware that "this is a serious game. Be prepared to THINK".[9]PC Magazine stated that the IBM PC version did not fully exploit the computer's graphics capability, but stated that players "will find excitement and entertainment ... it's certainly worth the silver to grab this game for the PC", and that Upper Reaches of Apshai "will be just as much fun".[10] In Dragon #114's "The Role of Computers" column in 1986, reviewers Hartley and Pattie Lesser stated that, along with Rogue, "These are classic adventure games that have been further enhanced due to enhanced computer graphics, sound, and screen displays. Both programs are well-worth your interest."[11] Computer Gaming World in 1991 stated that the game's graphics "caused a sensation when it first appeared".[8]

By 30 June 1982, Temple of Apshai had sold 30,000 copies; in comparison, contemporary RPGs Wizardry and Ultima had sold 24,000 and 20,000 copies, respectively, by that same time.[1] In total, Temple of Apshai went on to sell 40,000 copies by the end of 1982.[5][12]


  1. ^ a b "List of Top Sellers". Computer Gaming World 2 (5): 2. September–October 1982. 
  2. ^ Personal Computing, October 1986, p. 88
  3. ^ Paul Freiverger, "This Company Is Serious About Games", InfoWorld, 11 May 1981, p. 10
  4. ^ Among them, "Game of the Year", "InfoNews/Software", InfoWorld, 17 May 1982, p. 61
  5. ^ a b Hendricks, Fayyaad (22 December 2011). "A complete history of role-playing videogames: Part 2". EL33TONLINE. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Gordon McComb, "Playing the new adult-rated computer games", Popular Science, July 1984, p. 94
  7. ^ Advertisement (May 1980). "Did you read about the Dungeonmaster who became so enchanted playing a real life version of Dungeons and Dragons that he disappeared for a month?". BYTE. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Scorpia (October 1991). "C*R*P*G*S / Computer Role-Playing Game Survey". Computer Gaming World. p. 16. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Lindsay, Len (Fall 1979). "32K Programs Arrive: Fantasy Role Playing Game For The PET". Compute!. p. 86. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Foulger, David (December 1982). "From Stock Portfolios to Art Portfolios". PC Magazine. p. 150. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Lesser, Hartley and Pattie (October 1986). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (114): 72–76. 
  12. ^ Yokal, Kathy (September 1983). "Jim Connelley - The Programmer Behind Temple of Apshai". Compute! Gazette. pp. 70–71. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 

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