Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Les Ellis digs up the dirt for the Supreme Being
Like Tetris and Batman, Populous is one of those games that has appeared on nearly every computer and console known to man. However, it is also one of those games that you either love or detest vehemently. People can get totally enthralled in the game from the moment they build their first bit of land, or get bored to death within five minutes. Not too different to that other much-acclaimed, but rarely played, game Sim City, which is also becoming quite prolific.
The Master System is the last in a long line of conversions - surely there cant be any other versions in the pipeline - of Bullfrog's money-spinning game. After issue nine's preview, MS owners will have been salivating at the thought of 5,000 worlds - 4,500 more than any other computer/console version. With such glowing credentials, Sega's 8-bit machine looks likely to have the best version of Populous. It is testament to Tecmagik's devotion to the Master System that they should try to improve on the original, and not just chum out another clone (as with the Mega Drive and Super Famicom versions).
If you've been living on the moon for the last five years, and have failed to discover what Populous is all about, then this (very) short overview should reveal all.
You play a god who is trying to influence a world with his good ideals. However, on the other side of the universe, there is another god - a bad one - who is trying to do a similar thing with the same world. By building land etc on the world you must create an army of strong followers who will travel to the other side of the world and destroy all your opponent's settlements and followers. Of course, everything you can do - like causing freak storms and flash floods - he can do, too.
Being a god in the universe, there are many worlds that have to be conquered - 5,000 in fact! Overall, there are six styles of world: Grassy Plains, Desert, Rock and Lava, Bitmap, Snow and Ice and Futuristic.
Your main aim is to coax your people into expanding their intellect by building castles, huts, outside toilets, etc. As they increase in knowledge, so, in turn, will your manna bar, the source of all your power. Your power is used to create knights etc, which can be used to fight your battles and protect your people.
The game has been tweaked somewhat to improve the gameplay on the Master System. The control method has been altered to suit the joypads. The long range map isn't used for movement at all, as the short range one moves so quickly. Button II cycles through the different parts of the screen while button I executes commands. Finally, of course, the extra disks you could buy for the computer versions are all included in the 2Mb cart.
With all these additions and improvements, this classic game has taken a step closer to immortality with this excellent conversion.
✔ Blindingly fast scrolling around landscape.
✔ Great detail on characters and buildings.
✔ The old Pop. tune on Ihe title screen.
✔ Impressive effects for devine intervention.
✘ Can become very boring... (sacrilege!)
✔ Improved control method is great.
£34.99 • OUT NOW