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Powermonger Logo  Zero Hero

Danny Baboon Hands up who wants the Powermonger scenario blurb? Okay, here goes.. "Your kingdom, Miremer, was destroyed by a devastating earthquake. Collapsing mountains and fiery, poisonous ash spared few of your subjects and none of your lands..." Well, that's the first bit anyway; it's rather wordy, so here's a précis of the rest... "You and a handful of subjects have been bobbing about in a boat at sea for weeks, hoping to find landfall. And find landfall you do – a rich and fertile land. Brilliant. That means you can populate it and carry on as before. But there's a hitch! The land is already populated with petty lords and barons reigning over loads of smelly, plebby peasants. Now, you could move into one of the towns and resign yourself to a life of servitude. Or you could try to conquer the island..."
So there you have it. You're the New Kids On The Block – let's hope you don't look like Danny (i.e. the one who resembles a baboon).

Powermonger A picture paints a thousand words but a moving picture paints about ten thousand words. So, what you won't be able to tell from the screenshots is that the central 'close-up map' (where all the action takes place) is radically different from that of Populous. The reason is simple. Where the Populous world was made up of bitmapped "Blocks" which could be scrolled in four directions and had only one magnification level, the world of Powermonger is made of polygons – and this means freedom of movement.

Not only can you now scroll the world in eight directions, but you can also do just about anything else, You can rotate it for instance, gaining vantage points that would otherwise be unavailable. And you can zoom in and out to your hearts content. You can even pretend to be an earthworm or something, and go underneath the whole thing (although there's not a lot of point in doing so). You can extend the playing area too, so it fills the whole screen (obscuring the control icons and stuff) – this is good for 'spectating' which is something you'll be doing much more than in Populous.

It's a game of domination, as we've already said. But unlike Populous, it's not just a case of 'you versus him', because there are several sides, all of whom have ultimate power in mind. You start with a small band of followers and the idea is to turn them into a large band of followers – a goal you achieve by attacking towns, defeating the townsfolk and gaining the captain of the town as an ally. Once an enemy captain is an ally he'll join you at The Table (the very large graphic surrounding the playing area) and will respond to your orders. Having captured a town, you also capture its resources (most importantly foodstocks). Enough food has to be available to feed all your subjects, you see, or they'll start to think of you as a bit of a tosser and go their own way. Some towns contain a workshop, which is dead handy. You can order the allied captain to 'invent', whereupon he and his townsfolk will gather materials (wood if they're near forests, ores if they're near mountains etc) and build you lots of weapons (from swords to cannons to giant catapults) which make later battles against other towns all the more satisfying.

Powermonger Whenever you issue an order to an allied captain, it's carried to him by carrier pigeon – and if he's close to you (on the same area of the close-up map for instance) the bird won't take too long to reach him.
However, if you've been on walkabout since recruiting him, you might find yourself several 'screens' away – in which case (as pigeons don't travel at 186,000 miles per second) the message may take some time to arrive. In fact it's worse than that – pigeons have been known to get shot down (in a battle or something) and you can't monitor the bird's progress, you have way of knowing if the order actually got through.

If you thought the Populous population was big, then get this. Not only does Powermonger have an equally massive population, each and every member has a name, characteristic traits, relationships with other members, and certain skills. You can point your cursor arrow at someone, click the mouse button, and up comes a text box: "Harold of Doon, husband of Madge. Harold is good at macramé and is a bit of a chicken." So if you're attacking a town full of loads of people like Harold, you know you'll have an easy time of it (although if you kill Harold, his spouse Madge will 'remember' and won't co-operate with you). The people in Powermonger have different professions as well, depending on the area in which their settlement is situated. Settlements near the coast are populated by fishermen, those near forests by woodcutters and so on. Take over a town of woodcutters which contains a workshop and they'll invent 'wooden things': bows, catapults etc. Take over a town of fishermen with a workshop and they'll probably come up with a new recipe for Captain Birdseye.

Amiga Review Dunc: It's hard to know quite where to start, really. There's not a lot of space, and Powermonger is the kind of game that could easily lend itself to half the magazine. Ho hum. Er, well, let'' get the inevitable Populous comparisons out of the way. Yes, Powermonger does, on the surface of things, look a hell of a lot like Populous. Mind you, seeing as it's written by exactly the same people it's hardly surprising. A scrolling central play area surrounded by icons was a very good idea, and just because it's been done once is no reason to not repeat it (after all, how many vertically scrolling shoot-'em-ups can you think of?).

Where Powermonger departs from Populous is in the artificial intelligence stakes. Each sprite has certain characteristics (which you can examine if you want) and because of these each one will respond differently to outside influences. Attack one person and he'll run away. Attack another and he'll hit you back. Attack yet another and he'll get out a copy of the Evening Standard and pretend he hadn't noticed. Some characters are curious about things and will examine them. Others are totally thick and wander around almost aimlessly. Another difference between the two games is that Powermonger (because of the depth) is more RPG-ish than it's predecessor. It's the sort of game that's not too hard to get into, but will take months of dedication to master. For instance, the seasons. As you play, every ten minutes or so, the season changes. Rain pours down in Autumn, snow in Winter and so on, accompanied by the relevant sounds – from the winds of the latter months to the chirpy bird noises of Summer. Aesthetics? Well, yes, but not just that. A little hint here – in Winter it's abit cold, isn't it? So don't bother wasting time farming. Obvious? Okay, well what about the best time to invent things then? When isn't there much to do? Exactly – Winter again! Whoops, gave away a free 'tip' there...

There are some 'right on' environmental touches, too. Cut down all the trees and the climate gradually changes (trees do grow back, but it takes ages). I'm surprised there isn't a little digitised Sting wandering around looking for Indians to befriend. There are humorous touches too, such as the 'sheep shagging'- apparently if a farmer and a sheep meet under a tree, certain 'activities' take place. Mary Whitehouse must be notified at once.

Basically though, it all comes back to the conquest aspect of the game, which, let's face it, is what most people are interested in. It's ruddy brilliant. Shame there's not any room left really, isn't it? Still, these things happen.


"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Tesco's pickled gherkins are particularly tasty." *
Norris Mcwhirter Beneath the kindly exterior of Norris – the softly spoken walking record book – lies a megalomaniacal desire for world domination. There are several telltale signs:
1. Who else but a potential megalomaniac would – realizing he could never break any records himself – deliberately compile a book containing thousands of world class achievers with a picture of himself right at the front? "Is it Norris?" (readers voice). Yes, that's right.
2. When everyone decried cricketers going to South Africa, who defended their 'freedom of choice'? "Norris!" (You're getting the hang of this.)
3. Who was it who said all small children under the age of five with the letter 'e' in their name should be 'strung up' because it's the 'only language they understand'? "Norris?" Er, no, I made that one up.
The 'Behaviour and the Brain' man Have you ever seen a thing called Behaviour And The Brain on the Open University on BBC2? Well, basically it's all about torturing rats to prove things like how much it hurts to be tortured. I was watching this programme and they sad they had this rat sellotaped inside a cardboard tube (from the middle of a toilet roll). The cardboard tube was fastened to a base-board with the rat's tail protruding from one end. The tail was positioned over a hot plate which was turned on at regular intervals. Sometimes it flicked its tail to the right; sometimes to the left. From this the man from the Beeb deduced something or other, like the rat didn't like having its tail fried while being strapped inside a tube. Our deduction is that he's a complete powermongering bast.
* Bernard Mussel speaking at the 1961 symposium on Green Vegetables and their Influence upon Revolutionary Movements.

Zero, November 1990, p.p.40-42

Powermongering isn't an easy job like fishmongering. No, powermongering is much more demanding – as Duncan MacDonald found when we let him try the new offering from Bullfrog/Electronic Arts...
Options-icon OPTIONS: Save game, select multi-player option and all that sort of gear.

Spy-icon SPY: Send a captain to spy on enemy towns.

Make alliance-icon MAKE ALLIANCE: Tells a captain to make alliance with a chosen town. It costs, though: any excess objects you carry are offered as tribute.

Trade-icon TRADE: Send a captain into a village and swap food he carries for items produced by the villagers and vice versa.

Query mode-icon QUERY MODE: Select this, point the cursor arrow at an object/animal/human and it'll tell you all about them in a pop-up text window.

Passive posture-icon POSTURE: PASSIVE/NEUTRAL/AGGRESSIVE: Very important is the posture mode. If you want to be friendly and send a captain into a town in Aggressive mode then things probably won't work out too well.
Neutral posture-iconNeutral posture-iconIf you're steaming in for a fight in Passive mode then that isn't too clever either.
Agressive posture-icon Agressive posture-icon Agressive Passive posture-icon There are so many different situations you'll meet, and you sometimes have to think quite hard about what posture to adopt. A lot of the actions you perform, from dropping food to trading, are dependant on the Posture setting.

Go home-icon GO HOME: Stops a captain and his men in their tracks and disbands them – each gling home to his own Town or Village.

Transfer men-icon TRANSFER MEN: Transfers troops from the control of one captain to another.

Get food-icon GET FOOD: Tells the captain to pick up food.

Drop food-icon DROP FOOD: Tells a captain to dump his food onto the ground. You can see it on the close-up map, and it can be picked up by another captain later. A strategy supply dump.

Un-equip mode-icon UN-EQUIP: Just like the drop food, but refers to weapons and stuff.

Attack-icon ATTACK: This is the stuff!

Invent-icon INVENT: Want a catapult? Fine. Puts your men into Clive Sinclair mode.

Send captain-icon SEND CAPTAIN: If you've found (or invented) any boats then this will allow your captain and his men to get in the boats and cross water.

Supply food-icon SUPPLY FOOD: Select a location that needs food and your highlighted captain will keep making trips there with tasty morsels for the inhabitants.

De-rank-icon DE-RANK: Disbands certain types of troops (depending on your posture). Got some wimps? Right – off they go.

Recruit troops-icon RECRUIT TROOPS: Again dependant on posture, you can pick up differing numbers of men from a settlement.

Equip-icon EQUIP: Gets your chaps kitted out with lots of lovely hardware.

The whole land in miniature. Flashing white dots are your men, and are shown regardless of which map mode you're in.

Contour-icon CONTOUR: This shows the height of the terrain.

Object-icon OBJECT: This own shows up trees, houses, workshops and things like that.

Normal-icon NORMAL: Er, normal. It shows roads.

Food-icon FOOD: Colour coded, shows amount of food in settlements.

Fewer icons than Populous!.


Bullfrog/Electronic Arts

A must for anyone into sheep, strategy and little Populous men, not necessarily in that order. 93

Powermonger logo

Electronic Arts, Amiga £29.99

Powermonger The sequel to the enormously successful Populous, Powermonger was actually conceived during the development for Populous and has many similarities in graphic viewpoint as well as the control system. The suitably power-mad plot concerns your arrival in a new land ruled by various tinpot leaders. Since you were a king in your old realm, you decide to show these leaders what war is in a merciless drive for conquest.
The world of Powermonger is composed of a whopping great map divided up into 195 different territories. You start at the top, left-hand corner of the map, working your way down until you reach the most difficult territory positioned in the bottom, right-hand corner.
To gain control of each territory you must bring two thirds of that territory's population under your control. You do this by roaming over the territory's habitable areas conquering armies, village populations, etc. With each conquest a small set of scales will tip in your direction indicating the percentage gain towards victory.

Combat is an automatic affair. You just click on the 'attack' icon, point to the desired spot and watch your army launch an offensive. If you win, food can be taken from village stores and surrounding livestock. Any villagers who have not been slain are recruited to the cause. If a village has a workshop new weapons can be invented and constructed via the 'invention' icon. In this way you can steadily upgrade from pikes to cannons. Inventing takes advantage of the surrounding natural resources. So if your men invent pikes you will notice them chopping numerous trees down. Metallic weapons will need the assistance of a nearby ore mine.
In all actions, your posture will be the most important variable. So in combat, an aggressive posture will, more than likely, result in all of the defenders being put to the sword while a passive posture will spare as many as possible. Similarly, you have the option to trade with a village rather than attack it. Settlements will trade items for food. Here, an aggressive captain will trade a cannon before a passive captain will, for example.

Powermonger Apart from the original captain that you start the game with, you also have the option of utilising any of the defeated captains that decide to defect to your side. Each captain is rated for strength (or life force), the amount of men under his command and the amount of food carried. A status box can be accessed which displays further captain stats such as aggression level and speed.

The Powermonger perspective is an improvement on the novel Populous 3D. Now you can rotate the view, as well as zooming in/out. Powermonger also boasts weather - rain and snow come and go with the seasons. Rain will affect the speed of your marching soldiers and, of course, food will be hard to come by in winter.
Powermonger is a very addictive game to play. Graphically and aurally it is excellent. For example, you will see and hear tiny sheep grazing and bleating. Your men may disturb a flock of birds as they trudge through the landscape whereupon you'll see and hear the birds as they rise in to the sky (their shadows receding on the ground). However, I do have one or two reservations. Firstly, considering Powermonger is a wargame there is a dearth of tactical play. I can understand Bullfrog wanting to appeal to a wider audience than the normal wargame specialists, but just to have your men fall upon every settlement as a rowdy mob is stretching things a bit far. The only essential tactical combat variables tend to be weapons and the numbers of soldiers involved. Even a few simple, tactical formations would have been handy (and more believable).

In addition, I considered the reports to be lacking in certain areas. For example, if I asked my men to invent something why didn't they report back to tell me that they had just invented 'X'? The only way I could analyse this information was by clicking on individuals on the workshop itself to see what each man was carrying or what stock the workshop contained. Even then I was confused as to exactly what had been invented in the first place.

Powermonger is a very good game that has immense value for money and many unique and well-designed features (such as the seasonal changes). However, the niggly aspects take some shine off of what could, and should, have been a Sizzler.

Zzap! Issue 70, February 1991, pp.45, 47


Powermonger logo   WORLD WAR I EDITION

Als wir vor über einem Jahr das Hauptprogramm getestet haben, stand da zu lesen, da? eine Data-Disk bereits in Vorbereitung sei. Offensichtlich haben sich die Vorbereitungen ein bißchen hingezogen – aber Ochsenfrösche sind halt mal Perfektionisten!

Und wenn man sich so anschaut, was das Bullfrog Team hier ausgebrüttet hat, versteht und verzeiht man alles: Es sind nicht einfach ein paar neue Welten hinzugekommen (ein paar ist gut: 175 Stück),hier handelt es sich beinahe um ein ganz neues PowerMonger Universum! Lediglich das Spielprinzip als solches ist noch wie gehabt, ansonsten stö?t man überall auf unbekannte Gesichter, Icons und Aufgaben.

Fangen wir mit den Gesichtern an: Die Captains mit der altrömischen Toga haben ausgedient und wurden durch stramme Feldherren aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg ersetzt. Einen chicen grünen Wams haben sie an, und finster blicken sie drein – wahrscheinlich, weil sie sich selbst erst an all die neuen Icons gewöhnen müssen, die für den Einsatz der Gewehre, Flugzeuge und Panzer nötig geworden sind. Die Spielfeld-Grafik hat zugelegt, und auch vor ein paar anderen Details hat die Zeit nicht haltgemacht. Das betrifft z.B. die Erfindungen, oder daß Nachrichten jetzt auf telegraphischem Weg bzw. Per Funk übermittelt werden. Es sind daher neue Taktiken angesagt, generell ist das Spiel etwas schwieriger geworden – einmal sind die Computergegner inteligenter als früher, zum anderen mu? man sämtliche 175 Welten erobern, um den Krieg zu gewinnen. Wegen der insgesamt höheren Komplexität fehlt leider der Zwei-Spieler-Modus, was aber fairerweise auf der Packung vermerkt ist.

Zwei Dinge sind ganz beim alten geblieben: Der (Europa-) Feldzug beginnt wieder auf einer Insel, und das Programm ist wirklich jede einzelne der geforderten 49 Märker wert! (mm)

Amiga Joker, February 1992, p.18

Der Amiga Joker meint:
Die World War I Edition von Powermonger – ein Muß für jeden Feldherrn!

Powermonger: World War I edition