Review: Apeiron X

A classic Mac game you donít want to ignore (June 23rd, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Ambrosia Software

Price: $15 US download

The Good

  • Good action. Great mouse practice. Simple and easy to learn.

The Bad

  • A bit noisy (turn the sound and music down). Cannot stop and resume play later. Don't press the mouse button multiple times, just hold it down, or you risk your mouse.

Ambrosia Software, makers of Snapz Pro, Darwinia, and other shareware utilities and games, released an update to its game Apeiron in May. Ambrosia added native Intel support and fixed a few bugs.

For those of you unfamiliar with this arcade-style game, it is similar to the old favorite Centipede game. The game description is cryptic; the shots are plasma bursts, the tool of destruction is a dilithium crystal, and the main enemy is called a sneakered psycho; but it is really a simple game that will provide you with many fun hours. I find Apeiron a nice alternative to card games, especially if you need help to learn to use a mouse or a way to become more comfortable with your new Macintosh.

Straight Forward Fun for Everyone

Apeiron is simply a straight up shoot em down game. I love this game because I don't have to remember mouse button settings, I just need a good mouse with one button. I admit, I've broken more than one old mouse playing this game, the trick is to just hold the button down to preserve your mouse. The little diamond-shaped crystal blaster sits on the bottom third of your screen and you move it back and forth to obliterate the screen encroaching centipede, called Cheech the Pentipede, as its segments move down the screen. The crystal movement is smooth, but limited, so you have to practice hitting moving targets. You start the game with four shooters in your arsenal.

It is all about the points

In the first few levels each hit on Pentipede section is worth 100 points. As you hit a segment, a little mushroom takes it place as an obstacle on the playing board and it takes five hits to totally remove one. The mushrooms are only worth 1-point to remove. After you extinguish the whole caterpillar, a new level appears with a new game field with backgrounds in a variety of pleasing colors. After Level 1 other obstacles fall down and leave more mushroom droppings. Around level 15, which I rarely hit these days, the game actually shoots back at you with either lethal popping mushrooms or little red pellets.

Apeiron Bestiary

To keep the game active, at regular intervals a meanie named Groucho, bounces across the screen, which obliterates your shooter if it hits you. If you're lucky, you'll hit a mushroom with a hidden coin. When you run over the coin you can add rapid-fire shooting, straight shots, the ability to move through a mushroom, more shooters, or a lock icon that lets you keep these bonuses for an extra round. The best is a white ball that can run into Groucho and maximize points. Wiping out Groucho yields between 100 and 1300 points. The best part of the game is that you don't have to remember anything or any characters, you just play. An explanation of all of the nefarious villains and bonus items are in the Instructions.

Other features include a multiplier that only affect bonus points after you've cleaned the Pentipede off the screen and a space ship that yields more bonus points when hit. You also get another shooter in your arsenal every 20,000 points. When you last shooter is wiped out, the game ends and your score is added to the high score list, unless you didn't do very well.

As a devoted fan of Apeiron, I should add that I've played the game since it first appeared and play it often. I actually play Apeiron when I switch gears on my computer. It helps me clear my mind and focus on my next plugged-in task, so between writing and editing, updating FileMaker databases, or Photoshop editing, Apeiron can be heard screaming quietly away for 20 minutes or so, while my gray matter refocuses. I reached over 2 million points many moons ago, but I don't remember the level I was on. That information is saved in the high score screen and added to a worldwide high score list, if you want. I'll never hit that many points again, because I no longer have the time to spend four hours playing one game continuously. You can't save where you stop, but you can pause the game, so really high scores are time-consuming. You must start from the beginning each time the game is launched.

Not Violent, yet satisfying

If you're like me and don't like to shoot at living things, but enjoy periodic mass destruction that is harmless fun, this is a great game. It requires enough focus that you can't pay much attention to anything else while you play. There's also plenty of noise that accompanies each character and shot, so you might want to turn the sound and music down if you're at work, or in a quiet place. The screens and mushrooms appear in a variety of color combinations with each level change and it is nice relaxing eye candy, yet this is a fast action game.

Updated and Inexpensive

The latest update seems to fix a couple of problems that irked me. First, the shots seemed to be a little to the left of the mark, but that seems fixed. Also, the white ball that lets you wipe everything off the screen seems to last a little longer.

If you bought the game for Mac OS 9, it is only $5.00 to upgrade to Apeiron X. The game costs a mere $15.00 and you can try it before you buy. So, if you put no other game on your Macintosh, try this one, it is a classic that is a lot of fun.

by ilene hoffman, Reviews Editor


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