Mediamatic Magazine vol 5#3 Peter Mertens 1 Jan 1990


Electroniv Arts 1989 ca.$50


Popoulos -

In Populous, the evolution of your people is even more surprising. You are a superior being and your powers depend on the wellbeing of your people. As a good god, you are assigned a bunch of industrious little blue people. They are happy. They live on the coast in small huts made of twigs. They are doing well and their numbers increase. They build little houses made of twigs, little stone huts, they build little camps, villages and castles. They level the ground and travel. They are looking for little promised countries.They are goodness personified. A country and a people to love. The world is too small for such good people. And certainlytoo small for those stupid people in their red undershirts, who keep walking round with their dirty deaths heads as crucifixes. They build hovels, slum areas and fortifications. They ransack the country. Looking for power. Aggressive settlement policies and an urge to expand. They are the devil personified. A country and a people to hate. Your enemy. Two is too much. Down with them.

As a superior being, you are fortunately able to supervise matters. There is no need for real fighting: the fortunes of your chosen people can be influenced favourably. Small earthquakes, swamps, volcanic eruptions, floods or the End of Time can be arranged, of course only harming the Reds with their Deaths heads. They don’t like that. You can guide your people, for instance byhelping them to level the land, by building rocks of safety, by knighting their leaders, or by organizing new crusades. Should this lead to a battle with the Reds, all you can do is watch and hope that the Blue army will be victorious. There are worlds to be conquered. You can rest and watch if everything is fine.

Besides fighting off attacks of Strangers onmy Amiga, I can now also play creatively with it. Not just my agility and responses are important, but also my inventiveness and insight as an administrator. I can see more and more clearly the connection between things that seemed to be merely coincidental, especially now that I can manipulate them. As a generator of chance, the Amiga may simulate the unpredictability of life, but I am beginning to understand chaos. Everything is in order.

How and what? Populous
1. Populous is a perfect example of what you can expect nowadays. Not only is it a new and surprising idea, but it has also been worked out carefully. The spatial model of your country feels right. The little people are happy.
2. You run the game through mythical icons; a weapon symbol in the corner shows the balance of power. There are innumerable countries to be subjected, with an increasing degree of difficulty.
3. Sound plays an important part; in addition to sound effects accompanying various actions, there is also a real soundtrack: a heartbeat supported by a Gregorian/ New Age/ Minimal melody, quite worthy of the game. There are also endless possibilities to change the game according to your own ideas and there is an option to play by telephone against a real opponent, even an Atari owner;
4. For those who have become addicted to Populous, a disk is available with ‘promised countries’. Instead of in prehistoric towns, the game is then set during the French Revolution, in the Wild West, in Legoland, or in a futuristic country full of lunatics.
5. There is a new version on the market, called Powermonger (also from Electronic Arts). It pursues the philosophy of Popoulos.