Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Ever fancied being a supreme being? Of course you have, but remember, what with the long hours and having to be omnipresent, being God can certainly take it out of you. Luckily, with the conversion of Populous to the Master System, you can get to be God in front of the telly in your own home, with none of this ‘having to be everywhere at once’ lark.
It's a game that's been seen on a load of formats, but in the big, big, big Master System version you've got a huge 5,000 different worlds to laud it over - more than on any other computer or console. Unfortunately, on each and every one of these 5,000 planets, as well as yourself playing about being a big, fab deity, there's an evil god whose followers you have to destroy in order to gain total control. You get to influence the fate of your people by wielding a variety of godly skills. At first, your main task is to raise and lower the landscape. creating vast plains where your followers can build their settlements.
As they start to get a bit chuffed with your progress as a deity, your people will start to heap more praise upon you and give you the power (as indicated on a ‘manna bar’) to perform a few ‘acts of God’: earthquakes, volcanoes, that sort of thing. All these powers come in very handy for destroying the settlements built by the rival god. Pretty soon the two sects are at each other's throats, grappling with each other, discussing points of theology and, if you've played your cards right, your side’ll be the most fanatical and ‘do over’ the opposing team of heretics.
Having proved yourself at being good at being God, you get to be God somewhere else... and so on ad infinitum, through all 5,000 planets. These worlds range from simple grass and desert planets to the strange ‘bitmap’ planet where the graphics are all based on computer hardware — the land is made of floppy disks and you can build nice little PCs on it. Although lacking the Mega Drive detail, this version does have clear, crisp graphics — they look pretty good as you scroll speedily (though not all that smoothly) around a closerup map of your world. However, the joypad can make controlling your cursor on the 3D landscape a touch on the difficult side.
Although it takes a while to understand all the features of the game, it’s all rather good fun being the supreme being — the idea of controlling the ultimate destiny of worlds and peoples really appeals to me! My only worry is that, while each progressive planet does have a quicker and nastier god, once you've grasped the basic tactics they don't really alter that much Getting through those 5,000 screens could also prove tricky! Still, if a supreme being can't handle it, who can?