Atari box cover
|Programmer(s)||Ben Serki |
|Platform(s)||Apple II (original)
Atari 8-bit, PC booter, VIC-20
|Release||1981 (Apple II)
Apple Panic is a 1981 platform game —from before the term existed—for the Apple II programmed by Ben Serki and published by Brøderbund Software. Apple Panic is an unauthorized version of the 1980 arcade game Space Panic. While the arcade original remained obscure, Apple Panic became a top seller for home computers. It was ported to the Atari 8-bit family, VIC-20, and IBM PC (as a booter).
Electronic Games described Apple Panic in 1983 as "delicious true to" the gameplay of Universal's arcade game Space Panic. As its introduction succinctly puts it, "The object is to dig holes and pound the apples through the holes." Using the keyboard, the player controls a character that walks left and right along platforms made of green brick, and climbs up and down ladders between them. The player can use a shovel to dig holes through the platforms, into which enemies will fall and become trapped. Once an enemy is stuck in a hole, the player must strike it repeatedly with the shovel until it falls through and hits the level below. This must be done quickly, because after about 17 seconds an enemy will be able to free itself, filling in the hole in the process. The player can also refill holes they've dug, or drop through them. The game is an example of the "trap-em-up" genre, which also includes games like Heiankyo Alien, Lode Runner, and Boomer's Adventure in ASMIK World.
There are three types of enemy in the game, the first and most numerous being the "apples". An apple will die if it falls a single level. As the player advances, green and blue enemies will start to appear, which must be dropped through at least two or three levels, respectively. This is accomplished by digging a series of holes, one directly below another, and trapping the enemy in the uppermost hole. The player earns extra points if they drop one monster on top of another (killing them both).
On each level the player has only a limited time to dispatch all the enemies, tracked by a bar at the bottom of the screen. There are four distinct configurations of platforms and ladders through which the game cycles, but in every one there will always be five platforms in which the player can dig.
Unlike Space Panic, Apple Panic was very successful. Debuting in July 1981, the game sold 15,000 copies by June 1982, appearing on Computer Gaming World's list of top sellers. Softline reported in 1983 that it was among the top 30 best-selling Apple software for almost two years, in contrast to the "two to four month life span" of the typical arcade game.
BYTE in 1982 called Apple Panic "one of the most creative and novel games to be invented for a microcomputer". PC Magazine in 1983 stated "Yes, Apple Panic is a pretty dumb game. It's also fun to play and pretty to watch ... a welcome change from the endless stream of shoot-em-ups in space".
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