Fort Apocalypse

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Fort Apocalypse
Fort apocalypse fair use.jpg
Fort Apocalypse cover art (U.K. edition, distributed by U.S. Gold)
Developer(s) Synapse Software
Publisher(s) Synapse Software
Designer(s) Steve Hales
Programmer(s) Steve Hales
Platform(s) Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64
Release date(s) 1982
Genre(s) action
Mode(s) single player

Fort Apocalypse is a 1982 game for the Atari 8-bit series created by Steve Hales and published by Synapse Software. Joe Vierra ported it to the Commodore 64 the same year. Fort Apocalypse is a 2D multi-directional scroller where the player navigates an underground prison in a helicopter, destroying or avoiding enemies while rescuing the prisoners.

A contemporary of Apple II Choplifter, it has similarities to that game as well as the arcade games Scramble and Super Cobra. According to Steve Hales, he had the initial version of Fort Apolcalypse running six month's prior to Choplifter's release, but then switched to working on another game, Slime, before finishing it.[1]


Some prisoners to rescue

Fort Apocalypse is played within a multi-directional scrolling "cave", viewed from the side, and the player's helicopter is destroyed if it touches the walls. The player is free to move in any direction, and is not dragged along as the map scrolls. The map is divided into sections, often stacked on top of one another like stories in a building, contained by special walls that can be broken open by firing on them. Other sections of the map include moving walls and traps.

The player has two weapons, a gun and bombs, but only one button on the joystick. Most of the time the button fires the gun, but when the helicopter has turned so it's facing out of the screen, then the button drops bombs. Missiles track the player's movements for a short time before running out of fuel and dropping back to earth, and the map is populated by a number of enemy helicopters similar to the player's own.


Softline praised Fort Apocalypse‍ '​s "game complexity and difficulty of play—just enough to keep you coming back and progressing a little further each time".[2]

Relicensing and Source Code[edit]

In 2007 the game was relicensed to a Creative Commons license and released on IgorLabs, a site founded by Steve Hales and other game developers.

On April 23, 2015, Steve Hales released the assembler source code to Fort Apocalypse on GitHub for historical reasons. A Twitter account was created for the release, claiming if enough people followed a version for iOS and Android would be made.


  1. ^ Hague, James (1997). Halcyon Days. 
  2. ^ Christie, Andrew (Nov–Dec 1983). "Synapse Takes Off". Softline. p. 21. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 

External links[edit]