Apollo (a.k.a. "Games By Apollo") was different from most of
the other early independent game software upstarts in that
the company wasn't formed by former Atari employees who were
either disgruntled or saw that more money was to be made by
leaving Atari and starting their own company. Pat Roper,
the founder of Apollo, was President of Texas-based National
Computer Consultants (NCC), a company that produced educational
films. Roper knew nothing about the games industry but realized
that there was money to be made while playing NFL Football on the
Intellivision sometime in 1980.
Instead of hiring away existing game designers from Mattel
or Atari, however, Roper placed an advertisement in the Dallas
Morning News and the San Francisco Chronicle. A high
school student named Ed Salvo responded to the classified ad and
sent in a demo of a game he had been working at the time. The
game was Skeet Shoot, a rather mediocre game and the
very first game released by Apollo in late 1981. Sales of the game
exceeded even Apollo's wildest expectations, and Salvo quickly
began churning out as many 2600 games as he could possibly develop.
Later efforts by Apollo were much better, although its games
still trailed those of rivals Activision, Imagic and others in
graphical flair and game complexity. Most game enthusiasts
generally shied away from Apollo's offerings such as Space
Chase, Lost Luggage and Racquetball
and instead stuck with licensed games such as Star Wars, or games
that broke new ground like Pitfall. Still, sales were strong enough
that Apollo continued expanding its workforce and made plans to
release games for ColecoVision, Intellivision, Atari 5200, Atari
400/800 computers and the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A.
Those games, however, never saw the light of day. Times got tough,
and in late 1982, Apollo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The 2600
software market's growth had more or less saturated by the middle of
1982 due to heavy competition from a slew of new entrants like Parker
Brothers, 20th Century Fox and numerous others. As a small company,
Apollo had neither the money to heavily market its games nor did it
have the distribution might to compete for shelf space against its
mighty competitors. When reorganization efforts failed, Games By Apollo
folded in 1983 and became the first casualty of the videogame wars.
Although its games were overshadowed in the marketplace by its
rivals, Apollo's 2600 software library contains an interesting mix of
eclectic and fairly decent games. Space Cavern, a
semi-clone of Galaxian, was the first scrolling 2600 game and is
considered today as a minor classic by many. Lochjaw
and Shark Attack are engaging arcade challenges.
Final Approach is an air-traffic control simulation.
Lost Luggage, players have to collect luggage from an
airport carousel that has gone haywire.
An interesting note about Lochjaw, a Pac-Man clone
that involved sharks. The movie studio MCA threatened to sue Apollo
because of what they felt was an infringment on their copyright for
the movie Jaws. Given that Apollo was a small company and
could ill afford to be involved in a long legal battle, it agreed
to change the title of their game to Shark Attack.
Lochjaw had a very short shelf life, and is extremely rare as a
result. Owners of a Lochjaw cartridge can rejoice in having one
of the more sought-after 2600 games -- and a piece of history.
- Final Approach
- Kyphus (not released)
- Lost Luggage
- Pompeii (not released)
- Shark Attack
- Skeet Shoot
- Space Cavern
- Space Chase