Fort Apocalypse

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Comments (19)
ddahlstrom - 26/07/2023
I never played this back in the day, but tried it recently. It definitely has a clunky feel. For example, the radar isn't smooth scrolling and its window takes up half the screen making the play area feel very confining. The helicopter shooting also feels awkward; so I suppose that with no nostalgia to lean on, I'm in agreement that there seems some lack of polish here. At least it doesn't immediately pull me like I've found other games that I never played back then sometimes to do. But in fairness, I suspect that this is a game with enough depth that it might have slowly grown on me once I had invested enough time to drill into it further, or if I didn't have a lot of other games with greater appeal to distract me. So I'll probably play it some more to see where it goes, but for now I think my 1980's self would have given it something like a B-. Not bad, but not great.
Aromatic Jim - 08/07/2023
Wow, could not disagree more with JT's comment below. This is a great game - Smooth detailed graphics, booming sounds and (most aof all) PLAYABILITY. Don't take my word for it, just read below from all the people who have completed it and STILL play it! I think JT has bigger issues here than playing a 'crappy' game that 'ended the love affair with Atari 8-bits. If this game still 'triggers' him, seriously dude- Get help.

JT - 17/04/2022
Surprised at the high rating for this one. Actually it stands out as the single greatest memory of disappointment from my Atari 8-bit days. This was the one game that my brother and I got desperately hyped into wanting (strong marketing for an Atari game), but our Atari 400 could not run because it required 24K memory. In our minds, everything other game ran fine in 16K, so the extra requirement "must" have meant this game was extra special. We kept looking at it longingly with every visit to our favorite little computer store in the dingy corner of a half-abandoned mall, until the day our dad gifted us with a brand-new 800XL (64K! wow!). First thing we did was pool what tiny money we could, and eventually bought this game. The anticipation while it loaded (tape version) was more than we could bear. Practically knew the instructions inside out. Then...the title screen and game itself. We finally got to start playing, unease and confusion. Finally the horrible feeling..."this is IT?!". The game was awful. Even at our young ages we could recognize exceptional programming, and really crappy programming, and this one's 24K requirement landed it decidedly in the second category. We completed it (rather quickly I might add), but came to admit to ourselves that we hated it, and were both horribly disillusioned after that. We never bought another Synapse game after that. In fact I'd say this game was the beginning of the end of our love affair with the Atari 8-bits. To this day I still get slightly triggered when seeing it, probably my most-despised Atari 8-bit game (though of course I fully realize it isn't close to the absolute worst). Well-marketed but very below-average.
rave.N - 23/11/2015
16K cartridge has a checksum internally that prevents the 2 byte cheat from running. Cartridge image can be edited for unlimited lives by changing 5 bytes in a row :
Offset 2cc1 from $A5 to $38
Offset 2cc2 from $FC to $E9
Offset 2cc3 from $38 to $01
Offset 2cc4 from $E9 to $A5
Offset 2cc5 from $01 to $FC

Most version of Fort Apocalypse are slightly larger than 16K, so is there anything which was trimmed down in order to make it fit in a cartridge?
rave.N - 22/11/2015
CHEAT MODE unlimited lives. Change 2 bytes corresponding to program memory $2A68, $2A69 to become the values $EA, $EA. Best to start with some file version? The versions here now look like tapes, cartridge, and protected (VAPI) disk. aside: many versions start with ASCII text reads "PIRATES WILL WALK THE PLANK"

I got dozens more cheat code for other games, smile.
I also played Fort back in the 80s, solved it too without cheating. The genre or Arcade game that most influenced the making of Fort had to have been Williams Defender.
Punkydudester - 11/12/2014
I played this game and forgot about the other choplifter games. Amazing. They should have done a sequel on disk with the other 48 levels. If it sold so well then why didn't they. That was throwing money right out the window.
Baz - 01/10/2013
A game I remember with utmost fondness partly because it was the first XL game I ever completed. It was really smooth and challenging but not overly difficult to make one give up in frustration... very exciting to reach that inner fortress or whatever it was one had to bomb their way down the levels to get to then having to fly back out to where one had started whilst trying to rescue the little running men. Had plenty of action. Loved it.
GeoMan - 14/05/2013
Great game! At a later level there was a message on a wall: "Steve was here!" or something like that!
Benden - 12/02/2012
This game is a masterpiece. At the time, it was one of the most polished game ever published. Awesome graphics/sound/gameplay.
Underfly - 13/01/2012
One of Atari 8Bits most rememberable games. This gets very challenging, and pixel perfect planning, but watch your fuel!
Daniel Thomas MacInnes - 09/05/2011
If ever a game demanded an expanded mission pack, it's Fort Apocalypse. I never understood why Choplifter got all the attention. This game was far better in every way. It wasn't even close. Games like this really sold kids on home computers, and it wasn't long before our 2600s were collecting dust.
jcat - 26/04/2011
Another Synapse masterpiece. I use to play this, Pharaoh's Curse & Necromancer DAILY! Makes Choplifter look ill.
Rockford - 15/11/2010
I really loved this game back in the eigthies! This is one the best Synapse titles (And they sure had a lot of great games!!).
Scott Wozniak - 15/09/2008
Thank God I never read the review from Electronic Fun until now. They're nuts. This game ROCKED. My only knock was that it was too short. Synapse Software sure had some talented programmers. CLASSIC. 9/10.
Robert - 27/06/2008
For me this is simply the best helicopter game for the Atari 8bit. Forget Chop Lifter, HiJack and the dreadfull Airwolf/Blue Thunder and play this one instead :-P
Even I completed it several times, I still boot it up sometimes.
Jonny EOL - 24/04/2008
A great helicopter rescue/shoot'em'up. Pity about there being only 2 levels. The interview on this site gives the reason, but it's a pity there wasn't a 64kb disk-based sequel.
Ben Combee - 24/01/2008
Also published in 1986 by Green Valley Publishing, a division of ShareData. Disk number is ZRG-0779-1.0.
JohnM - 06/08/2007
Love this game too, very addictive gameplay.

My only complaint after playing it so many times was - I need more levels
- Give me a level editor to add more
- Give me an expansion pack

- I just need more of the same :)

Andreas Koch - 22/07/2007
Well, I love this game. Allthough I solved it a dozens of times, I still play it today. Atari released some of the Broderbund and Synapse titles for the XE/XEGS on cart. in the late 80`s - oh how I wish they would have released this one also...


Fort Apocalypse atari screenshot
Fort Apocalypse atari screenshot
Fort Apocalypse atari screenshot
Fort Apocalypse atari screenshot


GenreShoot'em Up! - MiscellaneousYear1984
LanguageMachine LanguagePublisherSynSoft
Players1, DemoCountryUnited Kingdom

Hales, Steve

Graphic Artist(s)MediumTape Disk
Cover Artist(s)Serial
Dumpdownload atari Fort Apocalypse Download

Additional Comments

Other versions with the same title:

Synapse Software, Load'n Go!.

Missing original disk image!


Fort Apocalypse Atari tape scan Fort Apocalypse Atari tape scan


Fort Apocalypse Atari instructions Fort Apocalypse Atari instructions Fort Apocalypse Atari instructions Fort Apocalypse Atari instructions


Some excerpts from an interview by James Hague with Steve Hales...

JH: "After writing Slime, what made you decide to do something as complex as Fort Apocalypse?"

SH: "Fort was my idea but working with Ihor, it became ours. It originally came from a dream that I had about helicopters and such. Many people have compared it to Broderbund's Choplifter! as a clone. The truth is I had developed an initial version before doing Slime, and at least six months before Choplifter! came to the market. The game was inspired by the movie Blue Thunder and my own bent for creating games that were kind of off the wall. Complexity was never an issue for me. I was always trying to push the envelope. Sometimes I did and sometimes I did not."

JH: "How did you react upon first seeing Choplifter! after your initial work on Fort Apocalypse?"

SH: "My reaction was: why did I stop working on Fort? I actually was working on it four months earlier, but stopped to work on Slime. It was my first experience in which the same or similar idea was created at the same time from completely different sources. I think Fort is a much better game because of the very opposite reason Choplifter! is cool. Fort was never meant to be a real simulation. If I wanted real, I'd go outside. I wanted to do something in a game that I'd never be able to do in real life. Flying machines underground would never happen, so it was interesting."

JH: "Was it difficult to write?"

SH: "I spent maybe six months total on Fort. It was my third commercial title and it came very quickly. I liken it to writing a book. You get into a groove and it just flows. The hardest part was the AI for the enemy Robochoppers. It's not very good, but it works okay. The other hard part was tuning the game for play. The very first version we had shown at CES in 1983 was very hard to play. The first level was different and we changed it after too many people complained."

JH: "Did the design for Fort Apocalypse change during the course of the project?"

SH: "Somewhat. The original idea remained the same but the tuning changed the game - made it much more fun and interesting. The only thing I wish that would have gotten into the design was more levels. Originally, I had planned for fifty levels. But since we wanted to put it onto a cartridge instead of disk, I only had room for two. I spent almost two weeks working on compression methods, but could only get two levels. The ROM was only 16K and I believe there were only a few bytes left."

JH: "How well did the game sell?"

SH: "It sold well. Over 75,000 copies on the Atari 800 and I believe well over that on the Commodore 64. More people know the game from the C64."


Discover the treacherous caves of Fort Apocalypse
by Bryan Stevens

Fort Apocalypse Walkthrough

Book / Magazine Reviews

 Electronic Fun · August, 1983Rating: 1.5 / 4 

What happens when you mix Defender, Scramble and Chopper Rescue together, and put them out as one game? About the same thing as mixing ice cream, spaghetti and steak. By themselves they're each terrific, but when mixed together they make something that you don't even want to think about. This is what happened in Fort Apocalypse.
This game has the "rescue the... [more]

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