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Retro: Top 20 Apple II games

15) Captain Goodnight and The Islands of Fear

 captaingoodnightCaptain Goodnight and The Islands of Fear was created during the times when software piracy is on the high. I remember playing this game and then it ask for unlock words which need to be referenced from the manual. This went on for one or two more checkpoints in the game. What is great about Captain Goodnight is that it is nice and sweet. It has some variety in the missions gameplay. Then some cheeky character trying to disarm a nuclear bomb. Playing through the whole thing only takes about 1-2 hours (if I remember correctly). What I do remember is going back and playing it somemore because it is really fun. This game also screams quality. Cause I remember playing it and feeling really good with it’s graphics, animation and production value. I don’t think about those per se at that times as I was too young to comprehend those feelings but thinking back, those were the feelings.


What’s next? I am not sure what happened after this first game as there were no news about any sequel or reboot. I guess nobody like this that much to expand on this hilarious take on a super soldier.


14) Taipan!

taipanAh…a game I played at lot in school. Partially is because the computer teacher introduced it to us. What is great about Taipan! is that it is very portable. A very small size game that can be easily carried around and duplicate into school computers. It also does not have copy protection which means kids were practically playing it left and right. Great trading game that teaches about buying cheap and selling expensive. There is also some buying of lots of ships to fight pirates. I remember when we were fighting those pirates, we would look at the screen where 10 ships will be displayed and how the battle unfoil. Just simple animation and we were already excited about. Kids of those days are so easily amused.


I also took to some tinkering with this software to try hacking it. However, I do not remember if I am successful or not. I do remember vaguely some alternate version of this game not sure whether it was a hacked version or a sequel of some sort. Whatever it is, still a very good trading game during it’s time.

What’s next? This was moderately successful and inspired a few spinoffs or copycats. Though nothing noteworthy of being mentioned as they are mostly harmless reproductions.


13) The Bard’s Tale II: The Destiny Knight

thebardstaleThe Bard’s Tale series is perhaps one of the most underrated RPGs among all the other famous RPGs during it’s time such as Ultima, Might & Magic, Wizadry and so on. I am not sure what is the reason but this game is actually very good. It has everything – that is playing as a party, with lots of magics and sword fights. Characters leveling ups are nicely done. Exploration that is fun and especially the dungeons. Very good dungeons design that had me actually spending time mapping it out using a math exercise book. Too bad I did not finish playing this game as I think it is due to time constrain. One thing for sure, I still keep the manual to this game. Maybe even the math book with some of the dungeons that I have mapped out. Time to go into the store room and look for some nostalgia.


Oh yes, I remember the graphics in The Bard’s Tale series to be very nice. Looking at the screenshots now it doesn’t seem to be that nice. LOL. Why I choose this second game to be featured in my top 20? Because it is a more mature game compared to the prequel and more engaging. I do not remember much about the third game but I did play that a little. I think the third one lost it’s magic which was probably why the series did not continue to be made. 

What’s next? The Bard’s Tale game was still a success (even though not as successful as other RPGs) and created a trilogy in sequels. Then, there is also the Bard’s Tale Construction Kit for people to create their own Bard’s Tale game. A reboot was created years later in 2004 by Brian Fargo (inXile Entertainment) who was the map creator for the first two games and directed the third. It was not as good as the old Bard’s Tale but it did enjoy some moderate success with it’s witty humour and it does get ported to iphone.


12) Rescue Raiders

rescueRescue Raiders got compared a lot with another chopper game which is Choplifter. However, I prefer Rescue Raiders a lot more than Choplifter. The reason is because Rescue Raiders have a much better game play. It is not only about rescuing people in Choplifters. There are actually a lot of strategy involved in this action game. You need to buy proper vehicles to march to the enemy base and blast the base to bits. I think this is the grandfather of all the current smartphone games where you need to built an army that march to enemy’s base to win. The graphics in Rescue Raiders are also very good with controls that is very intuitive. This is one of the best action games to came out for Apple II where playing with joystick is totally engrossing.


What’s next? Rescue Raiders is another franchise lost in the clouds. There are no sequels or spinoffs to this awesome game. However, I did find a copy cat game called Armor Raiders released for iphone which looks 90% like the original.


11) Autoduel

autoduelAutoduel is a no brainer for me. With Lord British and Chuckles name posted on the cover, how can I not be suckered into buying it? I sure am not disappointing at all. Autoduel did get moderate success due to it’s very innovative gameplay. This is one of the earliest game to incorporate driving with shooting action. Customizable cars are awesome and who would not like it. 


During a time when RPGs are prevalent, Origin came up with an innovative RPG for cars. They do succeed as I was spending time looking for ways to customize and upgrade my cars. So much so that I ended up doing some minor hacking of the data files. Not much that I remember about the plot though. I do remember driving between cities completing missions. The one city that I remember is Atlantic City which allows me to do some gambling to earn more money.

What’s next? Autoduel is definitely the grandfather of a lot of games of such genre. To name a few, we have Twisted Metal Black and Interstate 76 (it’s sequel Interstate 82). I can’t believe that with such a successful and innovative game like this, there are no direct sequel or direct spinoffs. Just lots and lots and lots of copy cats.

Proceed to number 10 – 6


  • Reply Gandhara |

    The Apple II is by far my favorite classic gaming system. There are so many great variety of games to choose from that never get old. Some of my favorites are: Lode Runner, Aquatron, Sabotage, Star Maze, Repton, Crossfire, Seafox, and lots more 🙂

    • Reply abubin |

      lode runner is great but I still can’t find any good remake. All the one created for mobiles are very lousy.

  • Reply Chris |

    Thanks for the very nice post ! It brings a lot of good memories and I can’t agree more with the list you made up !!

    Just a quick correction to what you said in Karateka. The end is totally hilarious if you approach the princess by WALKING (and not by running): in this case she’s afraid of you, and kicks you in the balls ! The first time I arrived this far I was killed instantly this way…

  • Reply Chris |

    I do agree Ultima IV is probably one of the best game I ever played. Like you I guess it probably influenced me… it’s a bit like reading the Bible and actually learning to be virtuous by playing. I couldn’t succeed finishing it while I was a teen playing on the Apple II, but I could finish it years later with an emulator on Windows.

  • Reply Chris |

    I would have added

    Ali Baba,
    Prince of Persia,
    Stellar 7,
    Bruce Lee,
    Might & Magic II

    But this would make it a top 30…

So, what do you think ?