Microcosm logo CD32 Amiga Computing Bronze Award

After three years of development, Psygnosis unveil their first title in the CD revolution. Simon Clays looks inwardly at the miniaturised world of Microcosm.


Since 1984, when Psygnosis first became a reality, they've provided the video game player with some benchmark products. A quick glance back into the annals of time and names like Shadow of the Beast and the Lemmings titles come into focus.
More recently they've thrilled us with titles like Hired Guns and the very accomplished Combat Air Patrol. In-between times the company has undergone radical change, with the Sony Corporation becoming heavily involved in Psygnosis's major developments.

To this end the company have always managed to stay at the sharp end of technology. Indeed, while most were wondering which way a CD went into the machine, the Liverpool-based outfit were busy unlocking the secrets of the compact disc.

The first fruit of their labours is Microcosm, a strange montage of an arcade shoot-'em-up, and the movies Inner Space and Fantastic Voyage.



Set on a harsh, dark, future world called Bodor, Microcosm traces the underworld activities of two rival corporations.
Both Cybertech Inc and Axiom are at the centre of practically everything on the planet. They both have large mining concerns which dig further into the belly of the planet, systematically raping her of anything precious.

The majority of the planet is uninhabitable, with a high proportion of the population living in a very confined space. Poisonous gases belch forth from the bowels of the earth, a deadly by-product of cut-throat mining operations.
Life is cheap under the corporation regime. In fact, the only thing that matters to the corporations is the title of Corps1.

Just recently, Cybertech's grip has tightened around the prestigious title, and little by little Axiom are falling by the wayside. President of Axiom, Argon Stark, is desperate to re-address this disappointing situation and investigates some rather aggressive methods of correcting matters.

It's only following a meeting with one of Stark's right-hand men that a more subtle means of ending the regime is formulated. Stark is introduced to a doctor, who has for some time been experimenting with miniaturisation. He claims that he can send a human being inside of another using his breakthrough technology.

So the seed of an idea is set, Infiltrate Cybertech's headquarters and inject their president with a mind-controlling virus called GreyM. This would have a back-up system of designer viruses which would attack the vital organs if Cybertech try to meddle with GreyM.

The plan is successfully implemented, but during its inception Cybertech becomes suspicious, and realise that Axiom have sent an intruder into their President. A decision has to be taken immediately. After a frantic meeting, Cybertech executives decide to inject a craft with which to fight the assassin viruses.



Before the CD32 laser scanner can wink an optical eye at the gameplay, Microcosm launches itself into six minutes and 40 seconds of stunning introduction. This Bladerunner-inspired sequence is probably the most sophisticated, cinematic piece of computer animation to emerge on a machine for the home.

The idea for the introduction was the brainchild of lead visualiser Jim Bowers. Following a brainstorming session, the nucleus of an idea was born. Loosely based on the "inside the body" films like Inner Space and Fantastic Voyage, the team started initial design work on the Amiga. Then transferred everything across to Silicon Graphics machines.

Using £10,000+ Indego systems, they set about creating the world of Botor. As the footage rolls, the first thing to greet the eye is a street scene. This incredible section of animation, which features a futuristic truck rolling by and lasts under ten seconds, features 241 models, seven different light sources and over 85,331 polygons.

Running SoftImage on the Indego, a 3D model starts its life as a wireframe skeleton which can be manipulated and animated to ensure that routines are correct. The next step is to fill the object and show that it has three dimensions. From here the image has textures and added detail like symbols or camouflage applied.

At this point we have a textured 3D image that has no shadow or light source, so these are applied, and from here the image can be pasted onto another image.

Much of the game involves live action sequences Mike Simpson of Psygnosis explained the technique employed: "The live actors were filmed against a blue screen and then into modelled scenes. For example, in the lab scene in the intro only the actors are real - thw hole lab is computer generated.

Using the same technology as used in Lawnmower Man, Microcosm had to be reworked from its original FM Towns format. As Mike told me: "The game had to be completely re-written, new and seriously clever code had to be developed to exploit the CD32 hardware."

Much of this technology also went into the reproduction of the game interiors, like the vein walls. Mike was on hand with the biology lesson: "A tunnel was modelled from polygons and a vein texture wrapped onto the surface. Lamps were set behind the point of view so the scene would be lit in the foreground and fade away into the darkness."

After eight months of re-coding Microcosm for the CD32, work has started on follow up projects, Mike showed me the direction Psygnosis are going in: "This is an ongoing process for us now. We've learned a lot since Microcosm, Scavenger 4 (which is initially on the FM Towns machine, but will undoubtedly be released on the CD32) is more interactive. The third game in the series will be even more interactive."

The future certainly looks much brighter for Psygnosis's CD plans than the grim world they portray in Microcosm. Indeed, when I asked Mike about the future of games storage systems, he has this to say about their cartridge counterparts: "CDs are the way forward, and besides, you can't get 500Mb on a cart!"



A virus is an infectious particle consisting of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) enclosed in a protein shell. Viruses are acellular and able to function and reproduce only if they can invade a living cell to use the cell's system to replicate themselves.

The healthy human body responds by producing an antiviral protein, interferon, which prevents the infection spreading to adjacent cells.

Viruses are most commonly found in seas and lakes, with between five and ten million per millilitre at most sites tested, with up to 250 million per millilitre in a poluted lake. Among the more common viruses are canine distemper, chickenpox and yellow fever.

Discovered in 1971, viroids are even smaller than viruses, and consist of one single strand of nucleic acid. They cause such things as stunted growth in plants and some rare diseases in animals and humans.

The origin of the virus is still unclear, but it is generally believed that they are degenerate forms of life, derived from uncleic acid that has broken away from higher organisms.



When it comes to aural stimulation, Psygnosis left nothing to chance, and, wanting to utilise the power of CD, enlisted the talent of ex-Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman.
As with the graphics, the noise that emanates from the CD32 is indeed something to behold. Personally, I don't remember a time when I've heard such a quality soundtrack from a title.

A montage of ambient riffs and beefy dance beats, the Microcosm soundtrack is a pulsating and interesting departure from the norm.




Microcosm is probably the most impressive-looking piece of software ever to grace any Commodore machine. The first thing that greets you when you insert the disc is a 400-second introduction sequence. Rendered on Silicon Graphics machines and featuring a cinematic sequence of ray-traced images, Microcosm is a joy to watch.

The combination of CD sound and superbly constructed images really does put you in mind of a sci-fi movie. Shifting from moody street scenes to hi-tech robotic automatons and helicopters, it's totally absorbing.

The intro also combines real live action sequences which run alongside computer graphics, and add an extra dimension of realism to the piece.

Once into the game you'll find that the play area graphics are of the highest standard too. As you journey around the internal organs via vein systems, you'll be treated to a ray-traced version of Gray's Anatomy.

After the completion of each level you'll see more animated sequences, again rendered using Silicon Graphics and Amiga technology. Even the different craft that you guide through the body have been rendered and texture mapped to add that extra edge.

On a visual level, Microcosm is second to none and, its state-of-the-art look puts it in pole position in the graphical race.




Psygnosis's first full CD title is a very tricky product to measure or assess. This is because there are two separate entities that exist around each other throughout the entirety of play.

On the one hand you have the cinematic introduction sequence and the sections that roll around the actual play (like level completion or death of your craft), and on the other the gameplay itself.

The first thing to say is that as far as raytraced sequences are concerned, then Microcosm definitely has it. That's all very well for the first couple of times you turn the CD on, or want to show off to friends.
But, once this has worn off and you start jumping into the play, what are you left with? The answer, again, isn't that cut and dried.

As you first start your epic journey around the body, you are indeed craving for more of those colourful artery walls, and it's even fun watching your own submersible split into a thousand pieces (causing the man you're trying to save massive internal bleeding).

However, humans being humans, we become accustomed to things very quickly. So, once we've witnessed some spectacular visuals, the euphoria doesn't last for long and we need stimulation from the playability.

Microcosm is hard, in fact it's very hard. At times it's too tough, and becomes infuriating when you keep getting stuck at the same point. But that's shoot-'em-ups for you.

As a game, it plays adequately enough, with plenty of blasting action to keep you happy. If I had criticisms, they would be that Microcosm had more power-ups and weapons to choose, and that the internal walls that you guide your ship around had a collision detector.

In terms of product for the CD32, Microcosm is unmissable. It's not incredible, and it's not going to go down as a benchmark title. But in comparison to what else is available for Commodore's new console, it's streets ahead.

As a footnote, it's worth mentioning that as reviewers, we get to see a lot of products, and tend to get a little blasé about software. As an experiment we left the CD32 and Microcosm with some unwitting (normal) people, and they absolutely loved it.

Microcosm logo CD32

THIS is the one... this IS the one... This is the ONE... we've been waiting for. The immortal words of the Stone Roses. And I'm sure that when they wrote those words, they were thinking (using some bizarre clairvoyant powers brought on by prolonged living in Madchester and taking mind-expanding drugs) about Psygnosis' first CD32 game, Microcosm.

We have had our fair share of CD32 games, there are now more than 50 of them on shiny silver disc, and the number increases with every passing week. But, let's face it, most of them are simply A1200 games with CD quality music.

In some particularly poor cases, they are even A600 games on CD, with no enhancement to the soundtracks. So far, there have only been two real CD32 games issued for CD32. And Microcosm is the second. But it is The One.

I am going to go on a bit here, so for those who are getting restless; Microcosm is an average (OK a better than average) into-the-screen shoot-em-up. It takes place on a planet called Bodor in the Bator system. The storyline, and on CD these are far more important than they ever were on floppy, involves two warring corporations, CyberTech Inc and Axiom. Microcosm is a cyberpunk game which involves the hugely powerful, faceless corporations, and is set in a technologically-advanced, dark and moody future.

One of the corporations gets its boot boys to inject the president of the other corporation. But this injection contains something more sinister than a few milligrams of arsenic oxide. This injection has a whole host of micro miniaturised killing machines, bent on reaching the right hemisphere of the big cheese's brain and taking control of his conscious through processes.

By buying this game, you have volunteered to be miniaturised, and injected into the cardio-vascular system of Cybertech's president Korsby, where you will fight to the death with Axiom's forces, to retain the sanity of your Chief Executive Officer.

Once the flash intro is over. We're talking serious flash, this is multi-storey rhodium-plated flash that has been buffed with Duraglit, you are left with a straightforward into-the-screen shoot-em-up.

Sure, there are several different styles, depending on what area of the body you are in. There are several different types of craft for you to use in order to wage your war against the corporate micro-invaders. But when all is said and done it's just a game of Space Harrier.

You have to travel through the brains, bones, and lobes of Korsby. You may take any section at a time, but you are barred from the right hemisphere until the other levels have been completed.

So why, if it's a merely slightly better than average game, has Microcosm scored the truly huge marks that you can see at the bottom right? Because it has the vision, the ambition and the polish to show us the way CD32 games are going to go. Because it has taken a huge step beyond anything that we have ever seen before. Because, while it hasn't delivered the levels of playability that Psygnosis have shown themselves capable of with games such as , and , it promises that when they do combine those talents with this technology, computer games will be changed forever.

Don't buy this and expect to be completely addicted to the gameplay forever. It is decent, it is difficult and it is smooth, fast and huge. Buy this and expect to have your socks blown off.
Expect to go wow! every time you load it up for the first month. Buy this to make anyone who ever said the Amiga wasn't as good as their consoles eat their words. Buy it to listen to the excellent soundtrack. Buy this... and watch out for the next wave of CD32 games. I've seen the future and it's awesome!

Blutige Reise

Microcosm logo CD32

Schon vor Monaten sollten sich die Besitzer von Commos CD-Schleuder den Weg durch die Blutbahnen freischießen dürfen - jetzt hat Psygnosis die Herzkammern endlich geöffnet!

In ferner Zukunft ist es gelungen, Menschen, Tiere oder auch ganze U-Boote so weit zu verkleinern, daß sie bequem in eine handelsübliche Ader passen, wodurch sich z.B. Krankheitsherde recht gezielt bekämpfen lassen. Diese Story ist nicht neu, weshalb das mehrmütige Movie-Intro zwangsläufig an den entsprechenden Filmklassiker "Die phantastische Reise" bzw. dessen Quasi-Remake "Die Reise ins Ich" erinnert.

Nach dem Betrachten dieser optisch ungemein eindrucksvollen Szenen schlüpft man dann in die winzige Haut des nicht ganz freiwillig miniaturisierten Helden und begibt sich auf eine aberwitzige 3D-Tauchfahrt durch den menschlichen Körper mit all seinen Organen.

Aus anatomischen Gründen ist man hier nicht nur mit einem U-Boot unterwegs, sondern wechselt das Vehikel nach dem Andocken an Lunge, Leber, Herz oder Darm jeweils aus. Neben dem serienmäßig vorhandenen (wenig leistungsfähigen) Standardlaser gibt es auch diverse Extrawaffen zum Zerbröseln der nicht gerade seltenen Hindernisse.

Das Aufsammeln gestaltet sich jedoch relativ schwierig, denn ehe man sich versieht, hat man dabei schon wieder Bekanntschaft mit der Gefäßwand oder den unzähligen Viren, Bazillen etc. geschlossen.

Jede Kollision hat aber einen happigen Energieabzug zur Folge, weshalb die drei Mini-Leben keineswegs ewig vorhalten. Für etwas Erleichterung sorgt die eingebaute Scanner, der allerdings bloß die Gegner in der unmittelbaren Nachbarschaft erfaßt. Zum Glück ist das Game dazu in einzelne Levels unterteilt, die über bereits ergatterte Paßwörter direkt anwählbar sind.

Trotz der Beschränkung des Spielareals auf die menschlichen Innereien sind die optischen und akustischen Reize von Microcosm wahrhaft komisch - nicht umsonst wirbt dieses Game im Fernsehen für das CD32: Die Flug- bzw. Schwimmabschnitte werden immer wieder von phantastisch gemachten Filmsequenzen unterbrochen, und der Soundtrack sucht seinesgleichen.

Leider ist die Steuerung ein bißchen schwammig, was bei der oft verlangten Millimeterarbeit unweigerlich des öfteren zu unerwünschten Feind- bzw. Gefäßwandkontakten führt. Und letztlich macht halt auch das Spielprinzip auf Dauer nichts besonders viel her, denn verlangt wird hier im Prinzip nur ständiges Draufhalten mit der Wumme und gelegentlich mal eine blitzschnelle Entscheidung für die richtige Abzweigung bei den (Venen-) Knotenpunkten.

Wie zu erwarten, lebt Microcosm vorwiegend von seiner mörderischen Präsentation - wie in einem solchen Fall ebenso zu erwarten, sinkt die Motivation daher nach einigen blutigen Tauchgängen spürbar ab. Wer gerne ballert und mal einen "Actionflugi" der ganz anderen Art kennenlernen möchte, wird also noch am ehesten Freude an dieser CD haben, der Rest der Menschheit wartet wohl besser ab, bis der spielerische Fortschritt mit dem medizinischen gleichgezogen hat. (mic)

Microcosm logo CD32

First there was a cosm, then there was a small one of it, or something like that, and then it appeared on the CD32 and there was much rejoicing, perhaps.

Oh God. I'm two minutes into the genuinely impressive intro sequence. Skyscrapers are gliding past in a beautiful slow pan, traffic zooms along below railway bridges, carrying busy trains full of commuters, helicopters thwup lazily across the sky. Moodily-lit security guards in body armour stand alert beside huge gun platforms mounted on penthouse roofs.

Inside, a nervous surgeon stands ready beside the motionless body of a super-corporation's chief executive, two heavily-built men with ponytails and guns standing by to punish any hesitation. The tension is almost unbearable. And then... and then... picture of a compact disc. Disk Accessing. Please Wait. Bloody hell.

Sometimes, when I'm playing games, the well-practiced mask of cynicism slips away, and I accidentally permit myself to be truly and honestly surprised and horrified at the utter crapness of programmers. The only people in the world who could expand such huge amounts of effort and talent into building up an atmosphere over a minutes-long intro sequence, only to blow it all in one act of brainless stupidity.

I DON'T WANT TO KNOW THAT YOU'RE ACCESSING THE DISK, USELESS, CRETINOUS MORONS (Strangest sensation of deja vu then. Never mind).

How hard is it to conceal a disk-access pause? About as hard as it is to keep the previous picture on the screen for the four or five seconds it takes to load in the next bit. Or as hard as it is to come up with some kind of linking screen, even a logo of the game or something as simple as that, anything which wouldn't actually wrench your bodily from your newly-entered virtual world back into your tatty bedroom with its ugly plastic console and knacked old TV and unwashed lager glasses.

Not hard, in other words. But no. They have to let you know how clever they are. "Look," they say, the smug smiles almost bursting their cheeks, "We're using a CD. Isn't it great?", and the atmosphere dissipates faster than a fart in a force-nine gale.

If you think I'm overstating the point here (and before I get any letters, by the way, I'd like to point out that I know the screen doesn't actually say 'Disk Accessing. Please Wait', it's just the picture of the CD, because they use it - oh, joy unconfined - as the Pause screen as well. But it means the same thing, and it has exactly the same effect. Okay?), then you obviously understand as little of what playing computer games is about as the programmers of Microcosm do. But I'll get on with telling you about the game anyway, alright?

Ugly plastic console and knackered old TV set

It's Sewer Shark. Or, if you're not familiar with that particular Mega CD title, try Space Harrier as a reference point. You fly 'into' the screen, following a predetermined path (except at the occasional OutRun-style junction where you can choose one of several, although it's usually two, different routes).

Waves of enemies (in this case, mostly meaningless geometric shapes and blobs, crudely superimposed on the backdrop and not appearing to be related to it in any way, which look less like enemy battlecraft than cheap potato snacks from Marks And Spencer - Spicy Tomato Flavour Wagon Wheels, or something like that) attack in predetermined patterns, and you shoot at them. And that's everything.

Now there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. I loved Space Harrier, even on home formats where most people couldn't get past the loss of the arcade machine's hydraulic chair. And Silpheed, by common consent the other good game on the Mega CD after Thunderhawk, uses much the same formula as Microcosm, albeit in a much more stylish way.

But Microcosm isn't even a very good version of Space Harrier - the graphics, nice though they are, aren't (be honest with yourself) nearly as pretty, for one thing. You get the odd genuinely exciting moment, like when you come out of a long, narrow, claustrophic tunnel and suddenly find yourself in a big, open, dizzying cavern which gives you a disturbing rush of vertigo, but generally the first ten minutes of play will show you everything there is to see.

There's little of the ancient coin-op's variation in background and enemies, and none of Silpheed's limited interaction with the scenery. You shoot, you circle (as with almost all Space Harrier-type games, the best way to avoid enemy fire is to circle round and round the screen with your finger wedged on the fire button, although the icky control responses and CD32 joypad don't make it easy for you), you hope you get to the end of the current section before you thumb falls off, and you map.

Oops, I almost forgot about the second gameplay element - mapping. Yep, you don't just fly around shooting at stuff, you have to find your way to the things you want to shoot at. You do this by bringing up a map (which doesn't pause the game, and hence inevitably loses you a quarter of your shield power when you look at it) which shows your ship as a white square inside a white circle with snaky green lines scrawled all over it to represent the passageways of the bloodstream (did I mention you were inside a miniature spaceship flying around inside someone's body? Well, it's not very important anyway). Great, eh?

Circling, shooting and mapping. Sound thrilling, doesn't it? Oh, it tries, alright. Well, sometimes. The presentation veers wildly between super-slick and amazingly sloppy - there's no title screen, for a start, you get dropped straight into the game from the intro, and you can only switch the sound effects off, not the music.

Onscreen messages are printed in almost unreadably tiny text against constantly shifting backgrounds, and can't be skipped through no matter how many times you've read them before. But the actual game tries a bit.

Every now and again the tunnels do a quick bit of rollercoaster side-to-side or up-and-downing (although these bits were obviously too complicated to have enemies in), and there's no shortage of digitised video sequences all over the place (including a hilariously pointless bit where you land in a refueling base and have to walk through it with the joypad to the take-off point, although there's only one direction you can walk in and nothing to be gained or lost by either going quickly or taking all day), but nothing manages to disguise the inherent nothingness of the gameplay. Fort-five quid, Psygnosis? You must be joking.


Unusually, the Bodor Daily News prints the spot on the front page.

Insert generic 'I'm not going to use a chopper gag' gag here, someone. Ta.

Tragically, this man is allergic to mobile telephones.

"Look, I keep telling you, I'm only a window cleaner. I can't do this."

I'm not completely sure if we've got these pics in the right order.

Remember kids: JUst Say No to crap superficial expensive CD games.

Microcosm logo CD32 CU Amiga Screen Star

After years of hype and speculation, the world's first ever CD32 specific game hits the market, and Tony Dillon is surprised to discover just how good it really is.

I have to admit, I was feeling more than a little sceptical about this one. Psygnosis have always had a reputation for incredible intro sequences and game graphics, but have often found themselves floundering on the actual gameplay. When I heard that the apparently fabulous FM Towns title Microcosm was to be ported to the CD32...well, you can't really blame me for thinking the worst, can you? After playing the FM Towns version, I was even more worried. Nice graphics, shame about the game really.

The CD32 version is a totally different kettle of fish, though. Nice graphics, sure, as you can see from the numerous screenshots on these pages, but what a game! Microcosm plays as well as it looks, and that's some complement.

If you aren't familiar with the game, it tells the story of the President Elect of the gigantic Cybertech corporation. Well, not so much him, more his insides. A rival company has taken over President Korsby by sending miniaturised robots into his bloodstream with the aim of controlling his brain. It would have worked fine if someone hadn't got wind of it and sent a tiny version of you in after the bad guys. After that, well you can guess what happens next, can't you?

Yup, it's a mighty battle through the various holes and tubes within the body, with you battling against the shrunk-in-the-wash warriors and the body's own defences. There are dozens of the armoured robots whizzing round the body, along with rapid firing blood corpuscles, ceiling mounted, cannon blazing brain and the odd trail blasting tumour. Yes, it does all sound a little disgusting, but then this isn't a game for the squeamish. By squeamish I mean the kind of people who can happily sit through 'Night Of The Living Dead', but turn green during 'Heart Of The Matter' or Jimmy's'.

There are five main levels to the game, each set in different parts of the body. You start life racing through the veins, laid out as a maze with you rocketing through searching for the end of level bad guy. All the time opposing sprites are flying at you at a terrific rate.

After that you've got a chase through the bones, where you have to follow another ship through the entire body.

Other levels take you through heart, brain and various other lumps of flesh. At certain points of each level you leave the part of the body you're in and enter a large waystation base - similar to a space station. Here you can interrogate the on-board computer on the whereabouts of the enemy ships, upgrade your ship and recharge your weapons.

Of course, it's a shoot 'em up, and quote a basic one at that. Playing like Mega Apocalypse with fancy backdrops, it is basically your ship, moving in two dimensions and firing in a third.

The enemy sprites come from in front or behind, and you have to blow them away using one of your five weapons systems: single fire, double fire, triple fire, homing bullets and a smart bomb.

There is a little decision making to be made at points in the game where the path splits two ways, where you steer hard left or hard right to turn down the passageway you want.

One point to make here is that you are not steering the craft down the tunnels; you can't hit the walls and for the most part you don't interact with the backdrop at all. All the backdrop is, is a rolling animation that adds some atmosphere - It's best to think of it as an alternative to a scrolling starfield and you'll get the idea.

I've avoided them so far, but I now feel it's time to talk about the graphics. There is nothing on this page indicative of how incredible this game is to look at. Still shots just can't do it justice at all. With over 400Mb on the disk, this is one hell of a good looking game, all graphics have been rendered on Silicon Graphics workstations.

Where most rendered stuff until now has tended to look metallic, or shiny but with a lot of sharp edges, over the past 18 months the Psygnosis graphics team have polished and chipped away at every corner and facet and ended up with a game that looks disgustingly organic. Veins pulse and throb, with dark red threads running beneath them. The canals of the brain are a spooky and dark place to be, huddling below a ceiling of skin membrane. As for the heart...yeuck!

Even these graphics pale into insignificance when placed alongside the stunning intro and linking sequences. Tobias Richter, step down. This is what Amiga animations should be like. Take the intro sequence (of which the first half is pictured here). Eight minutes long, it plays like a mini-Blade Runner, panning through the city before closing in on the Cybertech building. We go inside and see the briefing that leads to the President being taken over.

There are numerous sequences within the game that keep piling the atmosphere on, such as when the ship leaves a vein and flies into a major organ, or my personal favourite, the death sequence, which shows you inside your ship rocking about as it smashes into the walls a la Star Wars.

The only thing that stops the graphics from being perfect are the main game sprites. They're just not as sharp or realistic as the back- drops, and as such look 'pasted on'. A shame really, as a little more detail would have made the screen look more complete.

The big question of course is how does it play? As well as you would expect a top quality shoot 'em up to play, basically.

It all runs in a frame, and the action is fast and smooth. If you're not a fan of the CD32 joypad you'll find it fairly tough, as it uses most of the buttons - joysticks are out.

The key feature to Microcosm is that it uses the CD capabilities of the machine to the full, and as such stands as the most important and the most impressive CD32 release to date. This is the game that console owners have to have.


Microcosm originally appeared on the Japanese FM Towns console two years back, and wowed the Japanese public with its stunning graphics. Compared to the CD32 version, however, it looks a bit sad. Less colours on screen, nowhere near as fast, dull attack waves and only a crosshair on screen instead of your ship, it ends up dull to look and dull to play. Thankfully a lot of the game was overhauled while being converted!


As you have probably realised by now, Psygnosis aren't the first people to use the idea of schrinking someone and putting them inside someone else's body. Here's a brief but informative run down of some of the other games and movies who have tried the same idea.

Racquel Welch and Donald Pleasance star in the original schrink movie. A brilliant scientist holds the future of the world is his hands, and only these two, plus some others who we can't quite remember, can save them. A rolling epic of a blockbuster that features quite some stunning effects, plus some really, really awful ones. The acting's pretty bad too, but then what do you expect?

Dennis Quaid and Martin Short get together as a comedy double act in Stephen Spielberg's wonderfully directed (aren't they all?) tale of a scientist who has perfected the miniaturisation process, and is all set to test it out with Dennis Quaid. Unfortunately, the lab where he is working is broken into, and the syringe with Quaid in it gets stolen and accidentally injected into Martin Short in a shopping mall. Hilarious consequences and antics ensue.

A really awful strategy game from Electronic Zoo, it let you wage war inside a body. Infections were green tanks, and you had to wipe them out with all sorts of silly weapons. Not much fun, and extremely primitive.


We start the cinematic sequence in Space, looking down at the Earth of the future.

Panning down, we see that Blade Runner was right along..

The local newpaper shows the rivalry between Cybertech and Axiom.

The grimy city ruled by the two super corporations...

...lies in the enormous shadow of the Cybertech building.

On top of the building, a guard spots something above her...

Radioing back, she is told that a military chopper is escorting a medicopter to the building.

The military come in to land, covered at all times by Cybertech's vigilant army.

An army that includes huge walkers along with standard armed guards.

The medicopter prepares to land.

One of Cybertech's chief guards radios to the military that the chopper has landed.

But the guards still remain on the alert.

The medicopter is sucked away into the bowels of the building...

...and the Military beat their owen retreat.


Stuart Sargaisson is a name that should be familiar to CU AMIGA readers by now, mainly because he's appeared on these pages so many times recently! Stuart is also the man responsible for the bulk of Microcosm, along with Richard Weeks and Pete Marshall, and therefore is the man responsible for the first full CD32 game.

We asked Stuart what the differences were between coding for floppy or coding for new CD platforms.

'As the CD32 is essentially an A1200, you're still constrained by memory, but the beauty of it is that you can pull a lot of data off the CD at any time. If you've finished with a bit of code or a sprite, you can chuck it away and load in some more.'

'It's not all good though. There are downsides to coding on the CD32. For a start you have to keep everything Exec. legal, which slows things down a bit. Most games throw the Amiga operating system out of the window and create their own, but we have to stick with this. Generally people work under that sort of constraint if they are making something Hard Disk Installable, which means it can be easily copied. Obviously when you're working with with CD, you aren't concerned with Piracy, your main concern is losing time within a frame. Did you know there are no hardware registers that point to the CD drive? You have to call it from within the system, which takes up a lot of time. You're reading data at 300K a second, which makes it much faster thatn the Mega CD, but you have to spend a lot of time getting through the bus.'

'It's nice to have the AGA chipset as standard, though!'


The whole thing has been pieced together by a twenty person team in Psygnosis' new London office. A fantastic archictect's office, the large open plan room is a graphic artist's dream, with Silicon Graphic workstations all over the place. At present there are several other games under development, all using SGIs to produce stunning graphics, and almost all running to FM Towns before being converted to CD32.

The next game to come from this stable is Scavenger, another 'flying through tubes blasting everything' blaster, with even better graphics and a few novel twists. More when we have it.