When people sit and talk of the all-time best horizontal shooters of the true Golden Age of gaming, it’s always R-Type (or a variation thereof) that gets mentioned. Now, I and others on this site have given glowing reviews to certain other titles of this particular genre, but one game that stands out among the pack and indeed for me even beats out the best versions of the mighty R-Type (original AND R-Type II), is a little game that could on the forever awesome Amiga.
Thus begins Olly023’s review of Apidya…
Released in 1991 for the Commodore Amiga, this Kaiko-developed nature blaster gained the attention of all the Amiga mags very quickly, swooping up rave reviews in the process. Here we have a rather unique Euro game from Germany, cleverly posing as a Japanese arcade port. The confusion to its uniqueness only backed by the addition of the Roman numerals II on the title screen. That said, whenever there’s a thumping' Chris Huelsbeck soundtrack at hand, you bet your anus that you've got a home computer gem beating with a strictly European heart on your hands!
The story is a fairly straight forward, if a little whacky; and most certainly reinforces the Anime influence (more so with the very cool cutscenes). Set in 19XX, ‘somewhere in the world’, Hexaae (the principal antagonist) is up to no good, being all evil and what not. With magic. He uses his power to send his forces out literally to bug the hell out of a ‘peace-lovin’ couple. What a douche. The cutscene intro then lets you hear a horrendous scream of pain from Yuri as she’s stung to high heaven by mutant insects, causing the hero Ikuro (who you play as) to go running home to find her limp, drained body. Harsh. Thusly, Ikuro takes the form that you shoot the heck out of things with in the game itself: a mutant wasp. Word! So yeah, you want revenge and an antidote, so as said the story is straight forward. You fulfil both points by beating the game (spoilers, hurrdurr) which then gives you a fresh cutscene. The presentation really is top notch here, folks. Looks grandtacular!
If you’ve ever played a Gradius-style game, or at least a sidescrollin’ shooter on the Amiga; it’s a sure-fire bet for what you’re getting yourself into, retrobates. But most importantly? It’s bladdy good stuff! Fair, addictive and supremely enjoyable. Super responsive and a decent pace is exactly where the game sets you off, with the difficulty level obviously progressing with you as a player. Never does it feel cheap, never does it feel ‘off’. Exactly what a good blaster should be! Speaking of Gradius and the like, the power-up system is very much based directly on such. Thus only seconds in a seasoned shooter fan knows what’s up, but entry-level enough for those coming in completely fresh. Kill an enemy, collect the flowery remains. Boom, done. The playability is freakin’ immense, which is always something difficult to put across in words for a written review. To play, is to know. This is a good’un, y’all. Haphazard clone, this is not.
Graphically speaking, the game is the complete package. Super cool sprites, smooth scrolling…It’s all here as you want and need it to be. The art of the game is impeccable. That simple. With remarkable use of the Amiga’s amazing colour palette and expertly crafted, highly-detailed sprites (with a surprising sense of realism, even) is just enough to get any gamers heart racing. Easily one of the most awesome looking shooters of the 16-bit era and a prime example of the system being used correctly. Literally, you can show this off to your friends and feel all snide. In fact, I remember just doing that as a kid. I loved this game, much of that coming purely from the look and feel. It was unique. Yes, there’s been a fair few nature/eco-shooters over the years, but Apidya is just something wholly special. Absolutely beautiful from start to finish. As you buzz and blast your way through the fields on the opening stages, fighting bosses such as a mole and a mantis; to rocking it in more surreal and roboticised fantasy environments towards the games close. Amazing. Also, while Kaiko were obviously leaning to that ‘unreleased’ Japanese effect, this is still a title that you can feel is Euro. The sensibilities remain.
I really shouldn’t have to explain how good the music is on this one, as its freakin’ Chris Huelsbeck. The man is a pure master of his craft and the star of the start-up studio that created this gem. However, if you really need me into pressuring you to play this with the volume way, way up (preferably through the Aux of a 90’s HiFi lead out from your Amiga/TV set up in the living room, standard) then…Gawsh. You’re in for a treat. If you love his soundtracks for Turrican, you’ll love this right here. Again, do I really have to say anything? It’s got that old school, upbeat, thumping’ sound that the Amiga was the king of, with Huelsbeck its chief advisor. Just. So. GOOD. The soundtrack was in fact released in 1992 on CD (if you can find it these days) and has since been performed live in more recent years. It’s one of those games were a standout track is hard to pin down, but from the opening you know you’re in good hands. Just listen to that if you need a pre-play confirmation. Glorious stuff.
The strong majority of the longevity here is the same as most old school titles, in that you’d be a special kind of player to beat it first time out. The presentation alone will have you wanting to re-visit time and time again, without even re-mentioning the playability factor of it all. A solid, masterful playthrough will eat roughly an hour of your life and each time, it’s well spent. There’s options available from the off to tweak your experience as you please, which includes the possibility to go 2-Up, choice of lives, difficulty, etc. The standards, but given the choice is at least something. You can even play with a MD pad, if you fear the Quickshot. Worth noting, you can’t fully finish the game using the easiest difficulties, so yeah. Learn dat, come back. Badaboom, badabing. Friggleting.
Overall, this is a shooter with everything you need and just simply one of those must-own titles for any Amiga fan. Apidya is freakin’ awesome and if you don’t like it, there’s probably something severely wrong with you. Fundamentally. And you shouldn’t play video games. There's multiple versions of the game, having the Amiga standard of budget releases from the likes of Team 17 here in the UK at least, so I'm sure there's more than enough floppy's to go around for those interested. Plus, the boxart is killer!
The art-style, the genre-perfect playability, the brilliant soundtrack…Yeah. Top marks, all round.
Play it as soon as you can if you overlooked this at any point, it is an Amiga exclusive, but you should own an Amiga by now anyway. Olly023 accepts no excuses.
Verdict:- What more do I have to say? This is one of my all-time favourites on the Amiga from my childhood, I recently revisit and get blind-sided by the fact that it still really is that good. Perhaps more so than my feeble mind could have ever processed in youth.
Apidya is a very special kind of game. It presents enough of what we already know and love and re-packages it in such a near-perfect way that the gameplay simply can't be faulted. The brilliant level design, sprites and superb soundtrack only back the games fantastic presentation and unique feel through its art, etc.Just...
Just play it, already. Apidya is awesome. Nuff said.
Second Opinion:- The Amiga churned out games like this for fun during it's rightful reign in Europe and this is one of the true greats.
Everything about it was class, the graphics, the way it moved and above all else the musical score. Words can't always express how much Transbot likes something so this is one of the moments when you all need to go out and just play this to understand.
It's not just good, it's great and it's not just great it's awesome, get this played now....Seriously NOW!
Transbot Scores:- 9 out of 10