Bring me to the Main Page   Bring me to the Reviews Index

Populous 1 logo  Format Gold


Amiga – Mouse. £24.95. Reviewed.
ST – Available mid-April.

W hen God sits up there dishing out his judgements there is not an awrful for you can do about it. Prayers are a bit old fashioned these days, and it can be hell to get the Royal Mail to deliver a note Up There. But now EA have released Populous, you have got the opportunity to change all of that. And just to prove its pedigree, it is written by the Bullfrog guys who were responsible for the legendary Fusion.

You need to decide to play the role of one of two divine beings, either God or the Devil. The idea is to trash your opponent by manipulating your dedicated acolytes into collision with the enemy. The playing area is a scrolling landscape, and you have got to build houses for your followers to, um, (how do you put this delicately?) procreate in, before the opposition grabs them. Your power increases to celestial proportion as you gain followers. With your opponent trying to do exactly the same thing on the opposite side of the map you soon realise that one world is not big enough for the two of you.

Followers can only build their homes on flat ground so you need to use the mouse to select areas of landscape and either raise or lower it until it is levelled. Your people will then come along and build on the land; first small dwellings barely enough to pray in and then a decent sized home. Followers will disappear into these places and do whatever followers do, whereupon several new members appear out of the front door. If all the land around the house has been levelled, then a castle will be erected.

This might seem fairly basic stuff but where things really hot up is when you start employing a bit of divine intervention to whip the other side’s houses for yourself. As your power increases, you are able to select areas of the map and then cause havoc with everything from earthquakes to floods, which can really get to be great fun. If you have really got something against your opponent then there is even the opportunity to toss around a good bout of disease.


At the start you must place a papal magnet somewhere on the map. You can then pick a leader and instruct him to go towards it, taking all your followers with him. He will venture on, finding new territories and relying on you to flatten the land for him.
The game works by selecting somewhere to go on the main map at which point you are presented with a detailed view of this section. Although it is easy enough to view the land on your territory you cannot venture into the domain of your other half.

When the game has progressed this far you can start to engage in all manner of scurrilous activities. You can instruct your followers to engage in fights with the opposition wherever possible – this only has any effect when you come across an enemy occupied house. The owner will emerge and you will fight to the death. Should the house occupier lose then his house will be burnt down.

Making use of the range of divine effects which include earthquakes, floods, disease and even Armageddon is fine but unfortunately your enemy has a tendency to play dirty and use the same disasters on you. By viewing his territory you can decide which are his most heavily built up areas and then ruin his day by invoking a volcano. It is the floods which can really cause problems – an ill-advised deluge will not only obliterate most of your enemy’s territory but you can also kiss goodbye to a large extent of your own land. The entire outcome of the game can be changed with this kind of global effect.


Graphically, the game has been very well designed. You view an open book which displays the map as well as a close-up section of specified areas. Dots on the main map indicate the followers of good and evil which give an idea as to the strength of your followers. Near to this is a sliding scale which moves up during the gameplay to inform you what kind of divine powers you can summon, such as earthquakes and floods.

Raising and lowering land looks effective and there is no problem in distinguishing different levels. The followers are not brilliantly drawn and lowering the land underneath a house causes it to disappear rather than crumble to the floor. This drastic feat looks rather abrupt with divine everything vanishes. IN the case of floods you look in horror as everything shivers and then almost the entire map disappears into the ocean.

Sound effect are brilliant. A mystic chanting takes place in the background which is very atmospheric. Additionally there are a small range of spot effects which appear when you unleash an earthquake or flood. An unconvincing clanking like a blacksmith at work indicates a sword fight, and you can then visit the scene to combat.

Mark Higham

Amiga/ST Format, Issue 10, April 1989, p.p.72-73

Populous 1


Populous is a strategy game but at the same time the action progresses fast enough to grip even the faithful shoot-em-up addict. A typical game can take around an hour to play but by selecting different aggression and rate levels from a menu you can alter this to suit your requirements. These allow you to specify what options can be brought into play, such as shallow or bottomless swamps, build up and down or up only. These will affect both players but further menus can restrict each player individually so, for example, floods cannot be used by the Devil or God cannot let an earthquake rip.
Populous is an excellent game – graphically exciting and amazingly addictive. It is one of those games which you just cannot leave alone. Even the front screen, where you will spend most of your time, is unusual enough to keep you intrigued. As well as a demo mode where you can pick up strategy hints, your opponent can be another human connected via a modem link. The advantage of this is that you can find an opponent from miles away or assemble a simple lead for another machine just inches from your prized Amiga.
The only real criticism of Populous is that impatient ST owners have to wait several more weeks to get their hands on this divine release.

4 out of 5
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Populous 1 logo  CU Super Star

Electronic Arts
Price: £24.99

W Populous 1 explained ell it looks like EA have captured the licence to top all licences, the ol’ mighty one himself. In truth the incredibly nice woman who deals with EAs PA would like us to believe that Populous depicts the age old struggle between Good and Evil, but any game in which you can cause floods, earthquakes, and even the odd Armageddon reaks of divinity to me. Pass the tablets, as Moses once said.

When the world first comes into existence, your total population and ‘his’ (him being your opponent – good or evil) total about four walkers (people who basically wander around following your commands). They can be told to settle in which case they mill off on their own doing their own little things until they find a nice piece of land and set up shop. The size and ‘technology’ level of the building they create varies in accordance with the landscape surrounding it. They range from a tent harbouring primitives with clubs up to huge castles with a population armed with sword and bows. If the land around the building is flat it can be cultivated allowing the population to expand the buildings. Mountains, ditches, water and rocks all hinder the progress of the community, but being a god it is not too hard to remove them.

Although big buildings afford stronger defences and a more organised population there is quite a lot of room inside, so they take longer than small buildings to become over-crowded and produce new walkers. You can intervene by placing a hill next to the building, reducing it in size and giving a divine boot to a resident who will then go out into the world.

Your power is increased every time one of the aforementioned walkers is created or every time a building becomes larger. With your increased power (the proper term being Manna) you can raise or lower land or place a ‘Papal Magnet’ (Shome mishtake here surely – Ed_. A Papal Magnet is the symbol of the people’s faith. Your symbol is an Ankh, his is a skull. Your people can be summoned at any time to go to the magnet where they will join up and become stronger. If you do not already have a leader the first person touching the magnet will take on the role.

The next power is Swamp Creation. By placing a swamp near an enemy settlement you affect their buildings. Anyone treading on the swamp drowns. These can only be eliminated by digging them out or building land over them.

Another power lets you cause earthquakes, destroying any buildings and reshaping the land. My very favourite piece of divine intervention is the Knight. Selecting this icon turns your leader into a platinum plated crusader who immediately takes off towards an enemy, kills everybody he finds, tramples the crops and burns the building down.

After the knight there is the Volcano. Find a piece of well developed enemy land, hit this icon and all the land in that area is raised by between one and ten levels into a rugged mountain, destroying all enemy buildings. There is Flood which makes Noah’s look like a paddling pool, and finally Armageddon. Hit this and both papal magnets are placed at the centre of the world. Both populations make their way there and fight to the death. In short the ultimate solution, only to be used in cases of extreme desperation.

Of the many worlds you can choose to settle on there are desert planets, green ones which look like Kent, rock worlds and ice planets. Remarkably, you can play a two player game through a modem or via an Amiga to an ST (as well as Amiga to Amiga). What more could you ask for?

The graphics are not the amazing ever seen on the Amiga, but somehow I could not imagine them in any other format, especially the cute little minions.
The sound is something else – a pounding heartbeat combined with some really weird sampled choral sounds, and as a final perfect touch the Amiga’s power light pulsates in perfect time.

If EA had let me know sooner they were releasing a god simulator they could have just given me a call and I would have officially endorsed it for them. Despite this, Populous is the best game I have played yet on the Amiga. It is an outstanding work of imagination. Amazing.

Mark Patterson

CU Amiga, April 199, p.p.24-25


Populous 1 logo  Zzap! Sizzler

Electronic Arts, Amiga £24.95
Populous 1 A very Divine Being needs followers, otherwise how they get their power? Simply going around saying 'I'm God, I am' won't do. You have to have some faithful people that believe in you and some to spread The Word.
This is your situation in Populous. You are a deity with a few followers trying to scratch out a living on virgin soil. The canvas on which you paint things consists of a 'Book of Worlds', which contains deserts, fields and ice regions; the map which shows a close up of a section of the current worlds and on which you control events; and the control icons. You must move across the land, building or lowering ground levels to allow enough clear space for your followers to build settlements, from mud huts through house to castles; the larger the settlement the more powerful your people.

Unfortunately, another deity is to spread his population across the land. The world isn't big enough for two races, so you must stop him from spreading whilst building up your own territory. This can be done by turning your leader into a knight and sending him on a raid, or using 'divine intervention' to cripple the opposition, both of which require a certain amount of Manna. Your Manna level is shown on a bar at the top of the screen, showing the choice of interventions open to you

The game is won when you have managed to keep your people alive and destroyed all the opposing population and settlements.

Zzap! Issue 48, April 1989, p.21

Gordo I haven't seen such an original game since The Sentinel. How do you make a game about playing a God?! I'll tell you how - you spend ages developing the concept and constructing a system, design superb graphics that work incredibly well, add wonderfully atmospheric sound to create an eerie feel and put it in a package called Populous. And that's just what Electronic Arts have done! Even though the actual concept of building a population and spreading across the world is quite simple, going about the task is a different matter altogether. Once you've managed to conquer the realm, you'll want to do it again and again… it probably won't appeal to everyone, but I can't for the life of me see why. It's brilliant!

Maff This is one hell of a weird game! The idea of playing God may seem a bit strange to some people and indeed playing Populous is a strange experience - but an enjoyable one. The first thing that strikes you is the incredibly atmospheric sound, with ethereal music and heartbeats all over the place, but you soon get involved in the complexities of the game, building cities, constructing land masses, electing leaders and crippling your opponent! The graphics are also of a very high standard, nicely depicting the land shapes and buildings; in fact, everything about the game is so neatly constructed and put together, with so many little touches - like the arsonist knight and the LED blinking in time with the heartbeat - all of which help to make it an experience well worth £25. Try it and see.

Loads of options, easy to understand layout and icons, and a myriad of little touches.
Superbly solid scenery with well drawn features and easily identifiable icons.
Choice of music or sound FX, both of which are subtle and amazingly atmospheric - perfect for the game.
All the icons and options could be initially confusing and the complexities may take a while to grasp.
Once you get into it it's an overwhelming experience.
An amazingly original and superbly constructed strategy game.

Populous 1...
...The Promised Lands logo

Wem die 500 verschiedenen Populous-Welten mit ihren ewig gleichen Einwohnern einfach nicht genug waren, kann sich jetzt Nachschub besorgen. Die schon lange angekündigte Zusatzdiskette mit fünf verschiedenen neuen Welten und ihren witzigen Einwohnern ist endlich erhältlich.

Populous: The promised Lands Neuen Männlein und Behausungen warten darauf, von ihrem Gott zu Ruhm und Ehre geführt zu werden. Zur Auswahl sehen dabei die französische Revolution, der Wilde Westen, Lego-land, eine Computerwelt und das „verrückte Land“, in dem so manches anders abläuft, als sich das der Spieler wünscht...

Die Einwohner jeder Welt sind nun entsprechend ihrer Umgebung gestaltet; von französischen Revolutionären über Computer-Mäuse bis zu schleimigen Monstern tummeln sich allerhand grafische Überraschungen auf dem Schirm. Aber unsere Screenshots sprechen mehr als tausend Worte!

Die Scenario-Disk läuft nur in Verbindung mit dem original Populous-Programm: wer noch einen Atari ST herumstehen hat, kann die Diskette auch an den verfüttern. Wie auch immer, für Fans des Kultspiels ist die Erweiterung ein absolutes Muss! (wh)

Amiga Joker, November 1989, p.59

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Die neuen Welten lassen das Populous-Fieber wieder voll entflammen!"

Für 29,- DM bei Computershop Gamesworld
Landsberger Str. 135
8000 München 2
Tel.: 089/ 5022463

Spezialität: Die Qualität von Grafik und Sound entspricht der Original-Disk. Die Installationsroutine ist etwas umständlich: Zehn vorbereitende Schritte sind erforderlich. Beim Diskettenwechsel verschwindet manchmal der Mauszeiger so dass es nur noch durch geschickte Fummelei möglich ist, den OK-Button im Requester zu erwischen.

Populous 1...
...The Promised Lands logo
CU Screen Star

Electronic Arts, AMIGA

Populous: The promised Lands Hiding away in the back of yer average Populous player is the thought, "I've conquered this universe and been pronounced invincible, but it just isn't enough. I need more people, more power, more land…". Here's your chance. The promised lands: Block World, Lego land, Lego people and very Legoey death. Silly land, where you improve your score by destroying buildings; Wild West Land, with it's cowboys and Indians; the French Revolution complete with guillotines, and Bit land - your friendly computer world. All this for a tenner? Blimey vicar!

An excellent good value package with all the thrills, spills, tears, bloodshed and creation of the original, portrayed in a slightly more light-humoured way. A definite purchase for anybody who bought and enjoyed the original Populous.

CU Amiga, October 1989, p.31

Populous 1 logo   WORLD EDITOR

Gerade eben ist das Hauptprogramm in die zweite Generation gegangen, da erscheint ein Editor für den Vorgänger – ja ist denn der jetzt nicht vollkommen überflüssig?

Ganz und gar nicht! Auch wenn der göttliche Wergzeugkasten nicht von den Bullfrogs selbst stammt, sondern von zwei Deutschen (Alexander Kochann & Oliver Reiff) entwickelt wurde – hier braucht niemand Angst zu haben, da? er rund 49,- DM für etwas ausgibt, mit dem gerade mal seine Häuschen neu anstreichen kann.

Selbst ohne kreative Eigenleistung bekommt man nämlich schon mal zwei nigelnagelneue Designs serviert, beispielsweise können die Götterduelle hier auch im All stattfinden. Aber eigentlich ist der Editor natürlich für jene „Populanten“ gedacht, denen auch 500 alte Welten im neuen Look nicht genügen, denn mit diesem Tool kann und soll man schlie?lich seine eigenenen erschaffen. Das Handling (per Maus) ist dabei wirklich simpel, Sprites und Geländeblöcke können kinderleicht abgeändert, zusammengelegt bzw. Komplett neu gezeichnet werden.

Ebenso ist es möglich, eigene IFF-Grafiken zu laden und nachzubearbeiten, die mit einem beliebigen Amiga-Malprogramm wie z.B. „D-Paint“ erstellt wurden. Überhaupt wurden alle nur denkbaren Optionen und Features mit hineingepackt, so können die neuen Welten auf eine selbständig lauffähige Disk abgespeichert werden, es gibt allerlei nützliche Funktionen (z.B. Undo...), die Geschichte lä?t sich auf Festplatte installieren und so weiter und so fort. Ja, wer auf Musik verzichten kann, braucht seinen 500er nicht mal mit einer Speichererweiterung zu bestücken, um den Schöpfungsdrang ausleben zu können!

Klares Fazit: Mit dem Populous World Editor entstehen wahrhaft komplexe Welten – in weit weniger als sieben Tagen... (mm)

Amiga Joker, February 1992, p.18

Der Amiga Joker meint:
Mit dem Populous World Editor wird die Schöpfung zum Kinderspiel!

Populous: World editor

Populous 1 logo   WORLD EDITOR

Just think how quickly Earth could have been knocked up this add-on!

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Price: £14.99
Authors: Alexander Kochann, Oliver Reiff
Release: Out Now

T Populous: World editor he Populous World Editor is not the handiwork of Populous’ authors, Bullfrog – they were happy enough with a single data disk, The Promised Lands. No, the two chaps credited here originally wrote the editor for a mutual friend’s birthday present and it grew from there, so the story goes.

The Editor is basically a glorified art package which allows the user to give Populous levels a new look and create a (slightly) different feel. The bulk of effort is directed at drawing new building blocks (with which the landscapes are built) and sprites (the characters which populate the world), while the less artistically adept among us can at least take delight in being able to fiddle with most of the parameters that determine the way a world will play. Not that there are that many variables to change – two dozen at most, which obviously puts a limitation on the possible variations of the theme. Also provided with the package are five finished worlds (Original Green, French Revolution, Space, Fast Food and Wild West) and their associated characters, along with a sixth set of generic building blocks to fiddle with also.

The creation of a world is a simple enough process. First, pick a theme – love, peace, skipping and pressing flowers is all that springs to mind at the moment, so let us stick with that. This ‘concept’ has to extend to the landscape elements (i.e. the land itself – the scenery, ankhs and buildings must not look out of place). Grass and water fit the bill, and so do trees and flowers. In my Planet Claire utopia there is no destruction, so the burned-out buildings will be replaced by the improved residences as a result of the two sides making friends. ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ now exist only to differentiate the two population types (if I could change the terms I would, but the editor does not allow this so any thoughts of having two named opposing footy supporter teams running riot are out of the window).
The ankhs I think would look better as – ooh, how about a heart and a yin-yang symbol? And to make everyone on my Planet Claire as happy as possible, I will set the Intelligence, Death, Birth and Manna Rates at maximum.

And so it goes – for my ‘nice’ world I want to allow the building of land, but I do not want either ‘side’ to be able to use any of those rotten disasters (which means that the swamp and knights are not necessary). Now all that remains is to define the people – for a start no-one has any clothes because there are no inhibitions or adverse weather conditions. Having saved all this stuff to disk along the way, I can now load it into the original Populous in the same way as I would a data disk. Planet Claire is now ready to rock and roll…

Limitations? Well, you cannot draw your own level maps – not unless the original Populous’ Custom option is employed – which is a shame. The Editor is not as user-friendly as it could have been either, but that is not to say it is difficult to use – it is just inflexible, especially in light of most ‘proper’ art packages. The other problem is that most, if not all, worthwhile combinations of variables have been done with the original Populous and The Promised Lands data disk, so that all that remains here is to visually personalise worlds. Is that really enough to make it worthwhile?

Amiga Power, Issue 10, February 1992, p.p.82-83

As far as editors go, this one does the job but there is only so much to be done with it. Still, there is fun to be had here for Populous fans keen to do their own thing.