Aztec (video game)

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Aztec (Apple II) title.png
Designer(s)Paul Stephenson[1]
Platform(s)Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, FM-7, PC-88, Sharp X1
Mode(s)Single player

Aztec is an action-adventure game[2], created by Paul Stephenson for the Apple II and published by Datamost in 1982.[1] It was later ported to the Atari 8-bit family[3] and the Commodore 64.


Aztec is a platform adventure game in which the player enters and explores the recently discovered "Tomb of Quetzalcoatl" in search of a gold idol.

The tomb's many levels are filled with traps, dangerous animals, Aztec guards and other hazards. Equipped with a machete, a pistol and sticks of dynamite, the player must recover the jade idol and escape the tomb. The player encounters snakes on occasion as well as a giant man eating plant if he keeps going to lower levels.


Screenshot from the Apple II version.

Aztec generates a random dungeon for each new game.[4] Before beginning play, the game prompts the player to select a difficulty level from one to eight. Increasing the game's difficulty boosts the number and aggressiveness of the enemies the player will face, but also increases the reward they'll gain from retrieving the idol. The shorter the time to obtain the idol, the higher the reward, in dollars; higher difficulty levels begin the countdown higher. If too much time elapses, it's possible to get a message about the idol being damaged and not worth much anymore.

Each level in the tomb is shown from the side, with three floors and steps often connecting the levels and floors, with piles of bones and debris scattered along the floor. Searching these piles, or occasional boxes or chests, may discover and yield useful items such as a pistol or ammunition, a machete, dynamite, health potions, remains of the Prof. Von Forster, or the idol. At lower levels, more dangerous foes can be found, some of which may capture the player, confiscate items and lead it into a pit. Enemies can also cause the player to fall down to the next level when on the bottom floor. Some rooms contain pits with various traps, such as moving walls, ceilings or flooding water.

Once the idol has been found, the player must make it back up all the way, and escape outside with it. If the player dies, the game allows them to resume from the last level they were in. It also allows them to resume a game from a previous session. Every new game features a different set of eight random-generated levels (of eight screens with three floors each).

The dynamite sticks may either be used as a weapon or to blow up walls and floors (it's also possible to inadvertently break part of a staircase which is critical to climb back out, or to blow up the player).


Softline in 1983 called Aztec "no ordinary arcade or adventure game", stating that "the controls, game design, and animation are good examples of the state of the art in Apple arcades".[5] Electronic Games called the game's user interface "remarkably clean and logical", stating that because of the random dungeons "excitement remains keen through game after game".[4] Video magazine described the game as "a 'must buy' for Apple-ites", praising its variety, challenge, and its "straightforward system that uses single keystrokes" to communicate orders.[6]:28,29

Aztec received a Certificate of Merit in the category of "Best Computer Adventure" at the 5th annual Arkie Awards.[7]:28


  1. ^ a b Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  2. ^ a b Aztec at AllGame
  3. ^ "Aztec". Atari Mania.
  4. ^ a b "The Players Guide to Fantasy Games". Electronic Games. June 1983. p. 47. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ Shore, Howard A. (January 1983). "Aztec". Softline. p. 45. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  6. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (April 1983). "Arcade Alley: Zaxxon, Turbo, and Two for Apple II". Video. Reese Communications. 7 (1): 26, 28–29. ISSN 0147-8907.
  7. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (February 1984). "Arcade Alley: The 1984 Arcade Awards, Part II". Video. Reese Communications. 7 (11): 28–29. ISSN 0147-8907.

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