DNA: The Variety of Life logo

Andy Smith perked up when offered a blast of Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid - until he realised it was a simple wargame.

Imagine a mix between the first couple of Valhalla games and Laser Squad. Now you've got a mental picture of what Applaud Software's first full Amiga game looks like.

Now imagine trying to play a game that's a mix between the first couple of Valhalla games and Laser Squad. That's pretty much what playing Applaud Software's first full Amiga game is like.

It's a turn-based strategy game. Of sorts. You control two characters - a human and a cyborg - who have to fight their way through some 36 one-screen sectors which are populated with some mutant aliens.

Your characters have a limited number of action points which can be spent doing 'things' during your turn. Things like walking, turning round, or punching the enemy. But beware, you've only very few few action points so don't plan anything like: walk over here, punch this alien twice, move back down here, because the furthest you're likely to get is a short walk to stand in front of the first enemy alien and your points run out. Then it's their go.

But what's all this gene business you've read about? Well, genes are like power-ups. Kill a baddie, pick up the remaining genes, spend a couple of turns researching the effects of the gene and if you like what it does (provides you with shield in one instance) you can introduce it into your character. Sounds like a splendid idea. Except it's not been very well implemented.

For a start you seem to spend a lot of action points picking up genes you've already researched before and secondly the genes you do find don't go far enough to help you out. The difficulty curve is way too steep. Sure, this means you have to think about your moves when you're playing each sector - but actually what you spend your time doing is trying to have one of your characters run (run! Hobble slowly more like...) around the screen as a decoy while your more injured (both characters are usually in a bad way when you begin each sector) character tries to grab some energy-replenishing food and medi-kits.

This looks awful and has some major gameplay flaws. Hopefully DNA 2 (if there is one) will be more fun to play and better value for money. This one isn't.

Out now from:
Applaud Software * 33 York Roard Church Gresley * Swadlingcote Derby * DE11 9Qc

DNA: The Variety of Life logo

Price: £14.99 Publisher: Applaud Software 01283 2172708888

The aliens are a coming. Lock up your wives your children, your pet tortoise and hide. Or you could try and stop the little green men from taking over our world, as we know it, by playing DNA from Applaud Software.

It's simple enough to do, it's sort of a two-step with the aliens. You take your turn to try and pulverise them and they in return try to do the same to you. Simple.

The idea of the game is to neutralise each section on a grid. You've got two characters at your disposal: one human and an android. Each one has their own strengths and varying statistics which you can top up with points accrued from each section neutralised. You can also increase your players' abilities by implanting them with special skills that you've cloned from any deceased aliens.

In this aspect DNA is a bit like Microprose's UFO. And you've got a lab where you analyse the various genes that you've picked up and then decide if you want to implant them in your men.

DNA is a game which requires a lot of tactics and advance thinking if you're to avoid being totally annihilated. As the game progresses you are informed of the difficulty factor of each sector. One thing that is frustrating about this game is that one false move and you end up in a situation where you die very rapidly. This normally happens when your weaker player gets trapped by those annoying cannon ball like weapons.

Also as your players are linked, if the weaker one dies they both die instantly. You can't predict either where these cannon ball things are going to move to as they sporadically fly about the screen and hammers into which ever player it decides to target.

Unfortunately, my human player always seemed to die quickly no matter how much I tried to build him up. I also found it a bit annoying that I'd managed to get a long way into the game and then die within seconds thanks to those moving cannon ball things, no matter how much I'd tried to forearm him.

Even the quirky reloading phrases like 'groovy factor five' didn't manage to cheer me or make me want to plow through all the sectors again. If you're heavy on patience, enjoy tactics and don't mind trial and error then try it if not avoid.