POPULOUS
game Cover
game HuCard
(c)1989,1990 Bullfrog Productions
(c)1989,1990 Electronic Arts
Vol.37
Release : 1990-04-13 (6900)
HuCard (4 Mbits) HC91041
Simulation game

Not that many games have players incarnate almighty gods and as such, Populous really stands out of the crowd. Populous gives the player world domination on a plate. It offers several scenarios where two civilizations (the blues and the reds) try to conquer each others lands. The map is presented in a clever 3D isometric view and four different terrains are available. A cursor is used to interact with the map and the Select and Run buttons switch from the two action and option menus. The player receives Mana energy from his people and use it to shape the terrain, build armies, trigger earthquakes or change the weather. And the better are the people, the more the player benefits. They also evolve as they get more land and change from Prehistoric cavemen to Medieval knights. The goal of Populous is to first get the people to grow and their towns to expand, which will slowly increase the player's powers and get him to use even more devastating mesures. But, it is always good to keep an eye on the other god and his people, as they do the same on the other side of the world. Soon, each camp has enough power to call for the final Armageddon and a fierce battle will decide of the ultimate winner.
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Populous was originally created by Bullfrog (led by Peter Molyneux) and released in 1989 for the Amiga, Atari ST and PC Computers. It was a great success and was ported for many systems of the time, such as the Nec PC Engine (Hucard & CDRom, 1991), Sega Master System (1991), Nintendo Super Famicom (1991), Sega Megadrive (1991), Game Boy, Acorn Achimedes, Playstation, Nec PC98, Sharp X68000, Fujisu FMTowns. As a side note, the Hucard version of the game (tested here) is a straight conversion of the orginal game. Only the CDRom version, called Populous The Promised Lands has extra stages. A sequel followed, simply called Populous 2 was came out for the Amiga 1993, Super Famicom (1993), Megadrive (1993), Sharp X68000 and Nec PC98. Powermonger was released in 1990 and shared a lot in common with the original Populous, but it not considered a sequel. It used real 3D polygons rather than isometric sprites. Populous The Beginning was then released in 1998 for PC Computers and used a powerful 3D engine (for the time).

As you've probably noticed, Populous comes on an unusual HuCard. Unlike Street Fighter 2, which was also released on a thick HuCard, Populous doesn't use this extra room to increase the game's size. This extra thickness is in reality supposed to hide a mini backup unit where players could save they game's progress. The back of the card is also different than your usual HuCard, and this backup specimen is even called a RomRam HuCard (pictured on the right). The game also comes with a thick double-CD box and, like Street Fighter 2, with a spine card.


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Spine Card
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Populous was possibly the very first God game and was a huge hit. Even though the game was ported to various consoles (it originally came out for home computers), I don't personally think it ever matched the intensity that it produced from its original forma and this often applies to games originally designed to work with a mouse interface. This PC Engine conversion is well executed and true to its roots (Hudson Soft managed to fit the whole game on a tiny HuCards). But, again, all the interface was designed for a mouse and using a D-pad controller can be cumbersome and greatly slows your actions down. Then, this conversion only includes the original game and four different landscapes unlike the CDRom version which offers exclusive worlds. It is nevertheless a remarkable game but I would recommend fan of Bullfrog's masterpiece to hunt down the CDRom version.




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