Apidya was probably the last really original shoot-em-up on the Amiga. What made Apidya really stand out at the time was the decision to have the user control a flying wasp, and the initial setting being in the depths of nature – gardens, ponds, sewers.
Blasting your way through swarms of flies and enraged slugs and snails was great fun, and brought a really distinctive slant to the genre. There’s even end of level Mole! The graphics are vivid and beautifully drawn, with the added bonus of one of Chris Hüelsbeck’s best in-game scores (certainly a close second to Turrican), Apidya is really a feast for the eyes and ears.
Although the style of the sideways-scrolling shooter was pretty much a given – many games felt like R-Type in disguise, with mid and end of level bosses and a range of weapons to build up. What Blue Byte did with Apidya was throw in lots of secrets. For example, if you catch the little angel at the end of level 1, you find yourself in a bonus level catching angels (and avoiding devils) to build up your points. If you quickly fly down the mole hill once you’ve beaten said mole, you’re in an underground labyrinth collecting gems – each level has its own selection of secret places. Part of the initial fun was trying to find these things – such as flying into the mouth of the large Pike boss or delving into the dead rat in the sewers, where you find yet more bonus levels!
By level 4, we’re in a futuristic industrial complex, and the game suddenly feels more like a typical space-age shooter, with the wasp losing a tad out of place. That said, it’s absolutely glorious, but bloody hard.
In fact, Apidya’s difficulty level, even on easy mode is quite a challenge. The sprite collision is absolutely spot on, so you need to be fast and nimble on your fingers in this very busy and action packed game. The biggest frustration is losing a life with only one hit – an energy bar would have made a big difference. Plus you’re not instantly back on the screen; the level reloads and when you return, your weaponry has been downgraded. The weaponry selection itself can be fiddly – unless you select auto mode – plus you only need glance to the bottom of the screen to see which choice is highlighted too miss an incoming bullet. Apidya remains a challenge, but with enough persistence, a possible and very rewarding one.
As with most shooters, it’s a matter of remembering the enemy waves and the various safe spots, and the choice of weapon also goes a long way. The final level is a rather unsettling zone comprising bones, cobwebs and all manner of bizarre adversaries. However when you finally make it to the end, the big boss – a huge hornet, the height of the screen – does not disappoint. Certainly one of the best end-of-game guardians I’ve seen, and one that puts up quite a fight.
However, once you’ve disposed of the hornet, you can finally put down what remains of your joystick, and enjoy a lovely animated end sequence. So many games were let down by poor or minimal end sequences, after so much effort, and in this regard, Apidya does not disappoint.
Retro head and key holder of RVG.