In a nutshell, Emberheart’s remasters of old-school Apogee side-scrollers are a real delight, yet they seldom get much attention.
These are faithful remakes of the company’s classic shareware games, Crystal Caves, Secret Agent, and Monster Bash, which retain the feel of the somewhat dated platformers while improving them significantly with added quality-of-life elements. enhanced graphics and even entirely new challenges for seasoned players.
The classic fun need never stop, since each game comes with a level editor and complete Steam Workshop support.
There is no lack of stages on Steam Workshop for any of the titles, spanning all imagined degrees of difficulty, which is a tribute to the ongoing enjoyment of these mostly forgotten platform games.
Primo Vovk, the man of Emberheart, reflects on the unassuming beginnings of his team’s admiration for Apogee games. Some of the Apogee games that Vovk has restored were among the first he ever played. “I must have completed the shareware version of Crystal Caves too many times, since it was the fourth PC game I had played on our first Intel 486 PC. To put it simply, it means a lot to me.
The shareware period brought back to life numerous games that would have otherwise been forgotten, and many contemporary gamers may say the same. Shareware masterpieces like the original Doom and Duke Nukem 3D were born from the “play now, pay later” model. Yet Vovk still had a soft spot for the basics, so he used Twitter to sketch up a modernised version of Crystal Caves.
Vovk goes on to say that “it didn’t receive that much reaction,” but it did “get the attention of 3D Realms’ George Broussard, who worked on the original game.” Most significantly, Apogee’s Terry Nagy took note of it. I toyed with the concept of recreating Crystal Caves and quickly had a playable sample of the first level. After that, Vovk found himself presenting the concept to Terry and sending over a prototype.
“Before I knew it, I was working on Crystal Caves HD, all thanks to him. Considering the game is 30 years old, it was very well received, and soon after I started working on both Secret Agent HD and Monster Bash HD,” Vovk exclaims, “I’m still working with Apogee, all because of a single mockup and Terry Nagy.”
The past may become the present
There is a school of thought among modern players that considers these games antiquated; nevertheless, Vovk is not of that school of thought. Unlike games like Duke Nukem, which were released around the same time, “I believe none of (the Apogee platformers) had a chance to mature.” “Vovk elaborates. “Controlling and designing them was not easy, and maybe the characters weren’t memorable enough, so they had a limited fan following and were never continued. It was a rough game, especially Monster Bash. A sequel, Monster Bash VGA, was in the works but was ultimately scrapped. They should be showered with greater affection.
Nonetheless, we inquired of Vovk whether or not it was just a case of nostalgia. “(It is) unquestionably one of the primary causes, as is the games’ inherent ease of use.” This is farther Vovk. Even if you don’t care about your score, it’s still fun to gather all the crystals and save the pets and smash the satellite dish while you strive to complete the game’s basic objectives “Vovk elaborates. “When a new custom map is posted, even though I have played hundreds of them before, I find myself coming back to these remakes simply to play it. Because of their familiarity and ease of play, these games may be a welcome respite.
Vovk, who has created what he calls “faithful remasters” rather than complete remakes, has noticed the community that has formed around the level editor and the challenges of perfecting it: “It’s one of the best decisions we made because now we can play hundreds of fantastic custom levels made by the community, and everyone keeps making more, ” “The adventures of Vovk carry on. “From a technological standpoint, it’s not difficult to make one; the challenge is making it user-friendly and covering all bases so the user doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes or finding out how to accomplish anything. However, this process is time-consuming since the level editor must be updated to accommodate any new enemies, objects, or features added to the main game.
Currently, Vovk is hard at work on a first-person shooter (FPS) called Wizordum, which features classic swords and magic. You’re a cleric, and you use magic and swords to vanquish the Chaos that plagues the country. In this single-player adventure, you’ll go from settlement to mountain pass to verdant woodland and beyond, all while making use of a vast cache of magical weapons, armour, and supplies.
Discover hidden objects and collectible bonuses to boost your score and challenge other players on the global high scores list. It’s no secret that Wizordum has taken notes from the Apogee remakes. To begin, it’s preferable to include a level editor in the game’s distribution. The world is full of gamers that are just ready to construct their own levels “Vovk goes on. “And as I said before, I’d want Wizordum to mirror the classic games’ emphasis on straightforward gameplay. Simple principles and controls, but a wealth of hidden items and power-ups to find.
You may try out what seems to be a confident and exciting genre crossover and a solid performance from Emberheart in the Wizordum demo, which you can get on Steam. Apogee’s legacy lives on in the form of its effect on subsequent remasters as well as whole new experiences. Though it would be great to see Hocus Pocus and Realms of Chaos make a comeback, Vovk has said that they have no plans to do so at this time. However, Emberheart is working on another project that has yet to be released.
Now that Apogee is “back in the game,” so to speak, as a publisher of independent projects, it seems like the label will be around for quite some time. Whether or not characters like Baron Baldric from the isometric adventure Mystic Towers will ever return is an open question.
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