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Super Energy Apocalypse

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Rating: 4.6/5 (106 votes)
Comments (33) | Views (9,392)

Super Energy Apocalypse

zxo Imagine if you will, a parched territory, a desolate scrub of land, the kind of place where animals stay hidden during the day for fear that they might pop like a kernel of corn. It takes a certain breed of human to choose to live in a place like this: proud, self-sufficient, primal, rugged. Or perhaps just plain crazy.

Super Energy ApocalypseSuper Energy Apocalypse, a real-time strategy game with an environmental conscience from Lars A. Doucet, captures the grittiness of the Texas wilderness and adds a new challenge rarely encountered by the likes of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston: a zombie invasion! Luckily, the setting is not the Texas of the frontier era but a hypothetical New Texas republic formed in the near future. For modern technology is your only hope of survival—and yet it is also your greatest limitation. The zombies thrive on pollution, whether it be trash, smog, or nuclear waste. Competition second place award winnerYou might get along fine for a few rounds with just your dirty, polluting fossil fuels, but pretty soon you'll want to upgrade to something a little more friendly to the environment, and a little less tasty to the zombies.

First-time players should start their campaign on Level 1. The in-game guide, Dr. Ananastasia Wurstwagen, does an excellent job of stepping you through the game mechanics without making it feel too much like a tutorial. You travel with her across the apocalyptic New Texas countryside, building up defenses against the zombie onslaught in a race to save the last remaining human strongholds, all the while making sure to clean up after yourself. Each new location adds another level of complexity to your arsenal of available buildings. New locations also bring new energy sources, which let you produce cleaner power and fuel, although it may not always be as efficient as good ol' petrol.

Super Energy ApocalypseAnalysis: Super Energy Apocalypse plays a bit like a tower defense game, in that most of the time is spent getting ready for the next wave, and the player is offered no control over the targeting of the enemies. Planning for the battle is the critical strategic element, rather than the battle itself. The zombies come out only at night, so use the daylight wisely!

The real twist that sets Super Energy Apocalypse apart is the balance that originates from having to clean up after yourself. Leaving waste lying around not only causes pollution, but can set in motion a nasty feedback loop: when zombies eat the waste they become stronger, which lets them trash more of your buildings, which turn into more waste, which allows more zombies to get stronger, and so on. Additionally, overbuilding your encampment without upgrading your fuels will lead to too much smog, which also strengthens the zombies.

Lars has also hidden a clever little resource management game within the bounds of Super Energy Apocalypse. Energy can come from many sources, and its relative abundance changes with each new level. Your trucks can be set to run on any one of four fuels, which each have different efficiencies, cleanlinesses, and each depletes a different resource (fossil fuel, natural gas, energy, or food). Defense buildings each require different resources too. All of these systems must learn to play nicely together, as you will need each one functioning if you are to pass the hardest levels.

Although it played just fine, the submitted version of Super Energy Apocalypse (upon which the judging was based) suffered from a number of somewhat minor deficiencies which prevented it from claiming first place: a bit of unbalance with some resources, a bug here and there, lack of a save feature, and some performance issues for some machines during the heat of battle. All of these problems and more have been fixed in the subsequent updates and the game is currently, at the time of this review, up to version 1.2. The only further change I can suggest is to get rid of the infinite time limit for completing certain goals; it's too easy for players to build up their resources, in particular the research points, since the upgrades they are spent on remain through all future levels. Start the countdown as soon as the player receives their first objective, and if they cannot complete all objectives (including survival) by the level's end, then they must replay it.

Nonetheless, a well-deserved congratulations to Lars for taking Second Place in our 5th Casual Gameplay Design Competition, crafting a quirky, fun, and well-balanced game. His creativity exhibits itself throughout all aspects of the game, from the random bits of humorous dialog to the intricate resource system and the solid inclusion of the Upgrade theme.

Play Super Energy Apocalypse


*Sniff*. I love you guys.


fuzzyface April 14, 2008 2:33 PM

I liked this game a lot! Altough its vivid on the typical american zombie mythos to legimate storage of weapons at every home.. its pretty open-minded in the environment issues. Zombies as creation of bad environment care is a very new adoption to this mythos I highly welcome :)

About the playing experience. I think the level set shoots far too short of what the engine woulbe be capable. I never had to really worry about smog. Or to use electrical or ethanol trucks, or to use any weapon but the light which imho far outrules the gun, the tesla coil is useless too in comparison. A set of lights at the main appearance point will kill them all....


Ooh... this is fun. It's like Command & Conquer meets Captain Planet!


So that's why we don't have any widely-produced electric cars! Not enough zombies!
The fact that it's post-apocalyptic must've meant that the people didn't realize that the zombies fed off of waste until it was too late.

Also, the floodlights do seem to be more cost-effective than the gun turrets; if they actually do damage in a radius, then having a few close together would be potentially more powerful against more zombies. (Unless, of course, they really just aim for one at a time, and look like they're shining out in a circle)

Anonymous April 14, 2008 3:33 PM

i just LOVE the game ^^

i was hoping to read more comments though, as i am totally stuck.. lol

well good job!!


Everyone I see play has a completely different take on what is useful or not.

For instance, I'm always running low on energy, but tend to have lots of metal, and so I always have gun turrets around because my flood lights totally own - until they run out of juice. Then I'm hosed.

I was just playing the last level to make sure the level sequence still works, but what happened is, I ran out of fuel so I switched to electric cars... and then I ran out juice and all my lights turned off! I switched to natural gas just in time to get the lights back on and save myself.

So, it all depends on your play style I guess ;)


I forgot about the different approaches you could take, mainly because I tend to pick a favourite and just attempt to fine-tune that one rather than try for a complete overhaul.

I'm having a painful time on the last stage, since the zombies always aim for the geothermal stations first. With no power, I can't build more power plants: I always seem hosed after day one.

I'll try using the turrets, and possibly switching to natural gas for the garbage trucks, and ignoring the "Build more farms!" warning for a while longer.

(I was hoping for a climactic final showdown, where you had everything at your disposal... I guess that wouldn't have fit with the environmentalist survival horror theme)


Howdy Gar!

Here's how I beat the last stage:

The Geothermal plants are good, but keep in mind that spreads out your base, and makes it more vulnerable. It's best to start off with a small, tight, easy to defend core.
Remember, the traitor blows up all your research so you'll need to get it all back. Build labs early, at least three, and as soon as you can, start upgrading your nat gas plant. Keep in mind you have 25 nat gas and 25 fossil fuels - make the most of them! They are precious resources to get you up and running.
The idea is to build up quickly, then phase into a "sustainable" economy just before the nat gas and the fossil fuels run out.
So, while you're waiting for research to upgrade your nat gas plant, be sure to build a few mines and some guns. This way, you will only be spending metal, not energy, which is very scarce on this map.
This should get you through a few days. Colonel Roosevelt will come to supply you after a few days, so try to survive until then.
You shouldn't build any geothermal plants until you can defend them - wait until the 2nd day at least. Then, surround them with 4 flood lights. Don't worry about the tiny craters - the yield is too low to be useful.
Also, watch your fuel. It's probably best to keep them on gasoline, if you haven't built any fossil fuel power plants, since that resource will then ONLY be used for your trucks. Upgrade your fuel as quickly as possible or you will run out too soon! If you upgrade your gasoline early, you should be in a place where you have plenty of surplus food or energy to switch to ethanol or electric a few days in.

Try some of these, and if it doesn't work, how about some of the rest of you guys share your strategies for beating the final level?


Oooohhh... I avoided using natural gas plants and labs because I kept thinking "I need the most energy NOW" and figured upgrading everything on day 1 would use more energy than just focusing on production for the first day.

For a sequel, I'd hope to see more use of nuclear power: it would come in handy where there are no oil wells or geothermal crevices, but that never happens enough to actually see them come into play seriously. The fact that its waste is even more harmful makes them seem like more of a liability. They might make for an alternate strategy for the last stage, though.


About nukes:

Nuclear waste is pretty useful in sandbox mode, it just takes time to set the economy up. If you have nuke waste dumps right next door to them and plenty of engineers, the zombies never get a chance to eat the waste and they are perfectly safe.
The thing is, they're very expensive to build. So you need a few days to bootstrap with other energy sources to afford them, and the one thing you don't have in level 8 is time. So, they are useful, but I've yet to use them in a winning strategy for level 8.
They're lots of fun in sandbox mode though! And are great for when you just have ZERO resources.


It seemed that just as the tutorial was ending, the game was finished!! It would be great if there were more stages!!

fuzzyface April 15, 2008 3:13 AM

"""The fact that its waste is even more harmful makes them seem like more of a liability. """

Well thats part of the game message. :-)


I can imagine that level 8 is now a lot more difficult from before. Come on, be honest, how many of us used THAT bug?

One thing about the nuclear waste:

It's usually best to have one engineer to a nuke site. It sounds crazy, but the truck goes pretty slowly, and zombies had aimed for the waste before. Once the waste is on the truck, no zombie could reach it.

Just in case anyone was curious, I've had a zombie eat one of my nuke wastes once, in a previous version. It grew powerful enough that it kicked any building in a shot, AND it didn't insta-kill once daylight came out. Yeah.


Also, I guess no one caught that "Dr. Ananastasia Wurstwagen" is the descendant of the "Herr Ananas Wurstwagen" from the Alchemist's Apprentice?


It would be fun, if it weren't so incredibly, incredibly buggy.

You can't build where the floodlights are active? Why?

Events reset the menu, so if you are trying to build more defenses in the middle of a fight, just give up. You can click on "Defenses", and you might even have time to choose what to build, but good luck placing it before the next reset.


did u start out with 25 nat gas and 25 fossil? i only have 25 nat gas and 5 fossil... the trucks always leech the hell out of my electric.


I'm finding the final level to be painfully difficult. Has anyone actually finished it?


I can NOT get past level six...

Muttly13 April 18, 2008 8:11 AM

Heres how I did level six...

Dont build the geothermal until you have 400 power saved. To do this, build a gas and oil power plant and let them provide your needs for the time being. Throw up a mine, 2 or three labs, enough farms to stave off starvation, and some defense. Make sure you research your oil and gas consumption as quickly as possible to slow your usage. Once you have 400 power, build the geothermal and the level will end. I think it took me about 3 days and I fended off the 2 zombie waves with a total of three flood lights.

I have a question on sandbox. Is there any way to reduce the smog emission from your farms? I find I can build all I like with clean techs, but once I have to create a certain number of farms to support my ever growing town smog skyrockets to 999. I have no other smog producing buildings, totally clean power, and I run into this problem with about 10 farms. Is this intended to force an end to sandbox games or am I missing something?

Muttly13 April 18, 2008 2:33 PM

Found it... my trucks were still producing smog... foolish. Now they all run on crystal clean, Willy Nelson approved, ethanol!


I still can't get past level six... I keep running out of natural gas and gasoline, and there isn't a place for a well...


Ah, magic of comments. Owned it. Level 8, though... no research... almost no supplies... no oil wells... low production geothermal only option... 200 seconds? HOw is it possible?

Uselysses April 20, 2008 4:02 AM

+1 @Phoenix Gabriel.
I like this game a bunch, but the bug where events seem to reset the menu makes it impossible to build after about 15 seconds into an attack. As a result, I've haven't been able to finish level 8. Otherwise, excellent gameplay, decent storyline, and overall a very compelling game. Nice work, Lars.


AAAAGGGhhhhhh, I'm doing sandbox, it is the first, FIRST night, and I'm having trouble, garbage appeared in so many places, zombies are annoying, and only one garbage truck. Well at least 12 seconds till morning. PREPARE TO ALL DIE ZOMBIES!

Manga Fan May 15, 2008 5:39 PM

Yeah... interesting theories and stories, but I think our own strategies determine if we win or lose. I do have a decent strategy for sandbox though, for you guys out there who can't seem to manage... no offence, by the way.

Ok, when you start, try and get LOTS of metal damned early, so plaster mines everywhere, and put a dumpsite near them to avoid pollotion. Build a layer of gun turrets around the outside of the map, as close to nomansland as possible. (SPEED IS IMPORTANT!) Then concentrate on your economy. start building lots of geothermal and wind power stations, (ensure to upgrade wind power) or if it is available, fossil fuels should suffice. try to protect each turret with a floodlight where possible, but bear in mind this one thing: GARBAGE TRUCKS. Dead zombies drop rubbish. (filthy litterers) other zombies eat it. (filthy cannibals) You may also want to build telsa coils near to important biuldings too, so keep your power supplies up. Oh! And use natraul gas for your vechles, It has high mileage so little is used. I powered a fleet of 5 garbage trucks and 3 engineers of 50 gas for about 6 days. And then I died. Great. (Power cut out and most of me guns were dead...)

also, I can't wait for the new turret to be released, from what I can work out, it's gonna be a FLAMETHROWER!
One fault though, Lars, What do you mean by elevated ground? According to the description in the wind turbines, they work best on elvated ground. Thing is, I CAN'T FIND ANY! Uhh... little help please? Wind power is beginning to take over my bases nowadays, I have about 2 turbines per garbage truck.


Is there any way to either make farms produce less smog or clean up smog?


you can use engineers to clean pollution

Mediocrates November 6, 2008 10:30 PM

Woot! I finally beat the last level!
Since the zombies come from the top and bottom of the screen, I built my base across the middle in a long line. I fully upgraded nat. gas before getting a second nat. gas power plant. Then I built a straight line of flood lights above and below my buildings and waited out the first night no problem. The 2nd day I shored up my base, and did a lot of research for geo energy (and built reactors on the main geo spots.) The second night is hard, but you should have enough nat. gas to power your floodlights. If not, throw some guns in front of the floodlights and get some metal for them. The third day you are BROKE! I went for metal really heavily the third day, so I had some guns in front of the lights. During the night I even had to turn off every other light to have enough energy.
Once you make it through 3rd night, it's really easy. You get 100 nat. gas as reinforcements, so just convert it all into energy and build an enormous base. I had geo generators ALL over (zombies go for the lights before they go for geo plants.) The last night is similarly easy, I had maxed out 999 energy with the two lines of floodlights.
Just as an FYI, you HAVE to have a fleet of garbage trucks to clean out garbage at night, or the later waves eat the first one's bodies and hurt your defenses.


Sooo, here are some general strategy tips (v1.5!):
1. Precious Gas! Low pollution and much energy. You usually start with some, even in levels without oil wells. Where possible start with gas plants, as coal is dirty and so are the coal mines. Upgrade them in a early level and you have a quick start in later levels.

2. Recycle! Upgrading recycling is relatively cheap and it produces some gas!

3. Build only few flamethrowers. Strongest weapon in the game, but hungry in ressources. On maps without oil this is crucial. Don't build them to close together. Build few. One shot strikes many zombies and so you save your oil and gas.

4. Max out fuel energy and oil fuel for the trucks. Run them on energy when you have plenty and switch to fuel when energy is needed elsewhere or you have to clean up quick. Oil last longer so less delay for refueling.

5. If there is no gas try thermal plants _after_ you managed a start with something like coal or gas. Just don't smog above 200.

6. Forget the nukes in hard mode! The Zombies are too hard in later levels and there is nearly no way to kill a determined mounted zombie before he feeds on your nuclear waste...

7. Talking about hard mode, i never bet the last level. You don't even have the ammo to survive the start. Any tipps? How to get this far?

You'll have to restart often. sometimes there barely is one way to beat a level. Sometimes you need a bit luck (no fast zombies stealing your 10 coal you got as a startup). Don't end level 3 and 4 before you upgraded all truckfuels, gas plant and recycling. Take 999 research to next level. In v1.5 there is a bug that resets research level for coal plants, so only upgrade if really necessary. In level 8 don't care for any pollution or waste, you have do finish it in daylightphase anyways.


hi from lev 6 onwards use windfarms all the way o and a few 4solor and 3 gas per lev i com the game this way

Daniel Carrick February 22, 2009 10:54 PM

I'm having trouble with Challenge 5, Any help would be appreciated lol.
I completed the campaign easily because I upgraded everything as son as I got it (9 Labs, 999 research going on to next level)


i found a bug

i died fron a zombie attack, and i was still playing and won the level!


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