My Apple //c days are in mothballs right now with my 5.25 floppies stored away, but I usually get the hankering to relive some of the nostalgia with an emulator, or on the web with the Virtual Apple 2 archive that allows you to play your favorite titles from yesteryear in a browser. This makes it easy not to have to pull all of it back out and find a spot where it can sit without having to rearrange any furniture.
One of my favorite games from the Apple era was Captain Goodnight and the Islands of Fear. The box, which I had at one point, sported the captain with leather flight cap and a smirking salute with yoyo in hand, painted in the style of an old pulp serial which is how the game kind of presented itself. Fighting against the nefarious Doctor Maybe, the side scrolling action game put you in a plane, a boat, submarine, jeep, and on foot as you fought your way from island to island in order to stop Maybe’s Acme Doomsday Machine. It was also timed with 99 game hours, which is much shorter than you think especially if you keep dying which will happen often.
But the game was also loaded with humor. Enter the briefing hut after you were already briefed, and the commander will tell you to get your ass back out there to save the world. Keep doing it, and you’ll get sacked, ending the game. At the start, you’ll also need to hop in a jet and take off. Or you can decide to run down the runway and into the minefield at the end, ignoring the signs that are there to keep you from losing your legs. Doctor Maybe will also mock you as you die from a floating laser, quipping “here’s looking at you” while the Captain stumbles to his feet. If you left the game running with the Captain standing there, he’d start stomping his feet and eventually whip out his favorite yoyo to pass the time before the world ends. The manual was also a product of the time before they began turning into glorified warranty cards, filled with more information on how to fry and cook bugs to survive in the desert than in how to work the joystick. And before Unreal Tournament and Halo made it fashionable to have vehicles in an FPS, Captain Goodnight had you flying, boating, driving, and running through the entire adventure.
And it didn’t take you hours to solve, either. It was still priced like a full game at the time, I think I remember it going for thirty or forty bucks for what amounted to be less than an hours worth of action making it something less than an arcade game that you might find on XBLA today despite being crazy hard. Fun times!
Now where did I put that decoder wheel…