FAQ/Walkthrough by ASchultz
Version: 1.0.1 | Updated: 03/08/17
Table of Contents
Arena of Octos(Apple II) FAQ/Walkthrough by Andrew Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org 1.0.0 copyright 2007
Please do not reproduce for profit without my consent. You won't be getting much profit anyway, but that's not the point. This took time and effort, and I just wanted to save a memory of an old game and the odd solutions any way I could. Please send me an email referring to me and this guide by name if you'd like to post it on your site.
One of the many queer games I was never able to solve as a youngster was a strategy game called Octos. Well, the original was called Arena of Octos, but apparently someone compiled the basic--with an amusing ending/sound effect no less--and shipped it on to one of many pirated discs my family received from another family returning to Germany.
Octos doesn't have much of a plot and it is in fact rather repetitive. You control a warrior captured by the Octos empire who must fight 8 enemies in an octagonally shaped arena to gain your freedom. The enemies have cool randomly generated names and are about as able as you, but fortunately they're pretty dumb, and you need to find a way to take advantage of this. In the pirated version I recall a slightly different AI, but in the version on asimov.net the main strategy consists of judicious running. You can probably outgun your first few enemies, but once you face two at once, you need to make them stumble over each other to get to you, taking damage and maybe falling into the central fire pit in the process.
Because you have three such one-on-two fights, you need to find a strategy that wins 80% of the time or you'll be well and truly hosed, only winning by accident. Also given the awkward controls you may slip up and cost yourself hits, but if you plot your moves out thoroughly you can keep your opponents running til one gets killed. I was only able to get through rounds 1 and 2(regularly) when I was younger and just wasn't patient enough to get through 3-5. I attacked too soon and capitalized on my luck right away.
Oh. The computer gives you dumb AI too. If you kill the faster of your two opponents, and you are standing next to his carcass and the guy remaining, the computer assumes you want to swing at...the carcass. But hey, you always wind up hitting it! And maybe it knows you're a bit frustrated with all that running around to do.
The ROM is in the file-based images in asimov.net. arenaofoctos_*ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.net/pub/apple_II/images/games/file_based/
I recommend this game be played at near maximum speed, except for the beginning of rounds 3-5. The first enemy that pops out is the faster one, and that can help you planning your first big run as the order you line the enemies up in is important.
There are 5 fights in Arena of Octos.
- You(4 moves) vs. 4 moves
- You(5 moves) vs. 5 moves
- You(6) vs 6 and 5
- 7 vs 7 and 6
- 8 vs 8 and 7
Each level has 8 stones that you can trip over. These are randomly placed. You are most likely to trip over a stone if you move diagonally and if it blocks the upwards end of the diagonal, though horizontal jumps can be dangerous too. It is usually worth an extra move to make sure you do not trip over a stone, since that loses you an endurance point and a move.
Because Arena of Octos was high-tech and nifty or trying to be, you had to use a wondrous device called the PADDLE in order to control your guy effectively. For those emulating the game, the paddle was this dial that also mimiced how a joystick moved in one direction, but you didn't have to hold it actively in place. Two paddles could be the equivalent of a joystick. Some of the more complex games, such as Decathlon, required both, but here a simple set of PEEK commands for keyboard input would have worked MUCH better.
Note that 1) once you choose a basic move you can't take it back and 2) if you get impatient choosing the last move of one round and click twice, it may be the first move of the next round. In other words, you waste a move, Jackson.
Fortunately a paddle can be emulated by AppleWin's joystick emulator which can be emulated by a mouse, which is easy enough to put where you need to, especially with an indicator at the bottom of AppleWin telling you where from L<->R the mouse is.
Now you move the paddle all the way right to move right and all the way left to move in place, i.e. stand up. The compass moves counterclockwise as you move the paddle left, and on AppleWin you can see the approximate location of the mouse/paddle although the circle indicating your direction may blink on and off regardless of how fast you made AppleWin go. If you try to move out of the arena, the computer wastes your move, and if you run into an enemy, it tries to push the enemy over, which usually has bad results for the aggressor.
CENTERish: strike(by default, at the enemy that moves faster) Striking will almost certainly not hit the enemy if his defense is +. It will probably not hit him if his defense is 0, but if it hits him and his defense is not -, he does not lose defense. If you miss the enemy and he does not dodge, his defense is not reduced.
RIGHTish: defend(reset defense to +)
Once you strike, defense goes to 0. Once you trip, defense goes to 0. You can defend when you are prone, but you can't attack or move. Defending is reset to - once you strike, but if you move, it stays.
It is pretty clear that defending is your best option for your last move unless the enemy has 1 hit point left and so do you(or if you have #moves-3 or fewer hit points.) You can always take your enemy for more HP later.
I could look at the BASIC code for what exactly the odds are, but the rough idea should be good enough. It was more fun to do things by experimentation.
Enemy AI works as follows: they run at you(diagonally til H/V aligned, though they'll attack from a diagonal) attack, then retreat the direction opposite from you and defend with the last two moves. If they can only attack once in approaching you, they hold their ground. Some enemies may try to push you, which adds an additional problem discussed in the strategy section.
Enemies move so that they are next to you as soon as possible. They can navigate around the fire pit but they ignore stones they may trip over, as well as allies. This makes your job easier. They know the fastest way around the fire pit to get to you as well but do not take the edge of the arena into account when fleeing.
Enemy naming takes 4 2-letter strings from the following big nonsense string and gloms them together:
That means there is a total of 31^4=923521 possible names.
For the first two rounds your task is pretty simple. If your opponent does not charge you, you can run at your opponent you can probably win straight up, because he will always flee with his last move. Eventually he will run out of room and keep trying to jump out of the arena. That leaves him 2 or 3 attacks to your 3 or 4, depending on the round, which is a huge disadvantage considering the first blow doesn't ever land and the second rarely does. In fact you may note that in the first roundthe other guy has almost no chance of getting more than a few random hits, and in the second he may get one hit in, but you should get a few more. The first round is more super-guaranteed but the second is quicker.
You can also let your opponent chase you to the edge before circling around him and pushing him to the edge.
.... ...... ........ ...xx... ...xx1.. ...... ...u
If you have your enemy like so, move UR U UL and defend(or U and defend in the next round.) He may nick you for a point next round, but then you can run at him and attack, he will run back, and then he will run into the bottom. Any other positioning may be treated similarly.
But now you have a problem about if the enemy is aggressive. This creates more problems and you are probably best off getting him to fall over a stone. Run about a bit and try to get him to fall over a stone. Make it so one is just to his R/L and he goes DR/DL. That is the most effective way. There are also particular stones that enemies trip over, so try to find those stones stay behind them so the enemies will fall over them. Being south or north of the fire pit is good for this. You can also calculate things so that, when he moves away on his 2nd-last move, he may trip on a stone. Then he will get up and not defend himself. The best bet for this is to position yourself diagonally from him since he always moves straight away.
The most important thing to do is calculate your runs so enemies cannot swing at you when your defense is -. Eventually they'll stumble over each other to get to you and you can clobber one of them to get the kill.
Once you've killed one of the two enemies you can pretty much always win even if you are low on hit points, though you want about a 5 HP bunker to make sure. You can assume the enemy is not pinned against the side, and then you can hide behind the dead enemy and watch the living one trip over him trying to get to you. It doesn't matter who you kill first but because your strikes default to the faster guy even when he is dead, you will probably kill the first guy(especially since he has more chances to fall over because of how he moves.)
The big problem is getting sandwiched by two bad guys, as if they gang up on you, the second will have several free shots at you, and that can drain you quickly. So if you can attack an enemy quickly to start, ask yourself if you can run away so that enemies can't approach you from each side, so they must stumble over each other to get at you. Also, avoid being next to the fire pit, but don't get too near the edges since at the very edges, you can't goad enemies into slips that may wind up in the fire pit, which often saves you a lot of grief. If an enemy dies next to the fire pit, you are really in luck. And if one falls near you, that is good too, but use a couple of moves--even three--to back up. Every move you run instead of attacking costs your enemies two moves of attacks. Finally, take an extra move if need be to be safe from falling on a stone. You do need patience for all this.
The only thing to watch out for with pushing is, of course, that it can be harmless(though enemies change position in that case and leave open the possibility of stumbling on the retreat,) and occasionally enemies will push each other so that if they are lined up as a, they push each other to b:
As the faster guy moves first, your best bet is to line the enemies up so the slower guy is between the faster guy and you. Then the faster guy runs for you, trips over his partner and loses hit points/time. The slower guy repeats. If he falls down before it is over, so much the better.
I've found often that you can kill the tougher of the two guys first. If you do so, then the other guy will be that much slower and you can probably play hit and run for a while. Give yourself 3 moves to attack(2 to break up the defense and 1 to get a hit) and 1 for defense. Move with the rest. Note that the enemy needs 3 moves to get a good chance for a hit and will move 1+1 times(retreat and defend) so simple math can tell you how far in you can let him go without allowing a hit, ie if his mobility is 6 then you can let him move twice, swing twice, retreat and defend and he probably won't hit you. This sort of calculation also works when fighting against two guys, and in fact you can weave your way through stones to get your enemies to fall.
Good places to get enemies to fall over stones are if one is next to the NW/SE corner of the fire pit, or below/above the fire pit where they must move on a diagonal to get to you. Remember how the AI operates. They'll run diagonally at you when necessary to get a horizontal/vertical view of you. They won't pay attention to where stones are. Note that even on the first level you should be able to run across the board. Resist the temptation to take a few swings at your enemies. Safety is much more important.
You may also be able to use the fire pit to get a few hits in. If you stay 1 unit away from the fire pit, when an enemy gets randomly pushed when next to the pit, he has a 1/4 chance of falling in. That's pretty good for you. Still, stones are your best bets to slow enemies up until they have enough hit points(or are vulnerable enough) to be taken down a bunch of hit points.
By the end you should be able to use the dead opponent's corpse to make the other guy fall on it. The cheesy thing here is that he always will, so you just have to be far enough away from the enemy so he runs at you, slips on the corpse, and can't really get any hits in. This may require a bit of luck, or you can lead an enemy in a big circle so that he keeps his distance from you before approaching from a different angle and falling on his face.
.... ...... ........ ...xx... ...xx... ........ ...1*u ....
Here let's say you have action index 7 and so does your enemy. You may wish to go UL U U U U U and the enemy will go UR U U U U and then wait because he can't attack you for much. Then D DR DL D DR DL. He will go D D D D and slip. He may even go into the pit. If the corpse is closer to the center the idea is easier to execute.
Eventually you will get to a point where (his HP) <= (your # attacks - 2 - squares away from him) and then you should be able to finish him off. In the example above if he is prone at 1 and it is your move, UL strike strike U U U defend gets you pretty much a free hit before you can start the running again. Remember even if he winds up near you after slipping, he still needs to get up, and that wastes a move.
This may take perseverance and if you make a bad move, keep running and setting up a new trap. But if you use your smarts and their timidity(if they were aggressive and tried even for one hit, then that would be better than sitting back in single combat) and their inability to zigzag around obstacles such as fallen fighters and stones, you should have no problems winning.
The winning screen is sadly less interesting than the losing screen. "You are free to go" as if you've been serving detention. No cool violent ending where you slay the Octon Lord after he runs at you and slips on a stone. Versus having to work for scraps in the Octon Palace if you lose, which made me smile. My compiled/pirated version read "Oh ****"(with appropriate sound effect accompaniment) if you lost and I always wanted to win to see what cool curse words you got if you won! Well, now I could modify the BASIC program to change it to what I want.
The names, too. I remember RILF-BIMA and INDY-PAPA but those names aren't possible with the current program--see enemy naming. It seems like the version I had, had a semi-fixed random seed. But I guess getting there is the best part.
- 1.0.1: converted to FAQ markup language 3/8/2017, with minor typo fixes
- 1.0.0: submitted to GameFAQs(and HonestGamers) complete on 7/21/07. I needed something to do while avoiding Harry Potter spoilers.
- Thanks to CJayC for founding GameFAQs and running it for so long.
- Thanks to SBAllen for the long apprenticeship and keeping it going.
- Thanks to honestgamer, whose AIM discussion with me reminded me it might be fun to write a guide for a game like this and others. Our conversations are sadly few but always enjoyable.
- Thanks to the people whose names I forgot, who gave me the disc(well they gave my parents the disk and I got wind of it, so my parents couldn't pitch it) and even if I remembered them I'd forget where to put the umlaut. I do remember their last name had an umlaut. Recherche du temps perdu and stuff.
- Thanks to the usual GameFAQs gang, current and emeritus. They know who they are, and you should, too, because they get/got some SERIOUS writing done. Good people too--bloomer, falsehead, Sashanan, Masters, Retro, Snow Dragon/Brui5ed Ego, ZoopSoul, War Doc, Brian Sulpher, AdamL, odino, JDog and others I forgot. OK, even Hydrophant in his current not-yet-banned message board incarnation. I am not part of his gang, but I want him to be part of mine.