Do you feel omnipotent?

Populous 1 logo

FEELING a little run down, are we? Things not quite going the way they should? What you need is a dose of omnipotence - create your own planet, colonise it, nurture it, that sort of thing. And if another pseudo-supreme being should happen by, you can destroy him, plus all his misguided followers.

The idea behind Populous is to be the best. Top God, as it were. You start off with three followers, known as Walkers, a leader, some land and a religious centre, the Papal Magnet. The more the Walkers worship you, the more power you have. The more power you have, the more you can do for your people, thus generating more worship.

You can also do the dirty on the followers of the opposition, either Evil or Good, dependent on your alignment. Doing the dirty can be relatively harmless nicking bits of landscape, to the positively ultimate Armageddon. If you don't have a very large following in the Final Battle, Armageddon outa here. Ah, the joys of cheap and unavoidably obvious puns.

Your people can build on flat land - the larger the area, the more secure the settlement and the stronger the followers produced.

Your Walkers can settle and multiply, gather to form a powerful Walker, make their way to the Papal Magnet or fight any infidels about the place.
They're more likely to do these things if they have plenty of good ground and as much protection from the other side as possible. They will usually ignore enemies unless they are attacked or you have instructed them to fight.

Leaders can be transformed into knights who carve huge inroads into the enemy with a joyous gesture after every victory. Knights are the quickest way to gain dominance, although creating one takes a fair slice of manna.

Once your people have boosted your manna supply to an adequate level, you can start damaging the opposition. How about earth-quaking them? Building swamps whiles away the millennia, especially when the opposition are apt to fall in them.

Volcanoes are fun; damage is repaired by razing the area to sea level and then rebuilding it. Total enjoyment, were it not for the fact that the opposition is doing the same to you.

Once one world has been won to your cause the next one in your campaign will be more difficult, with harsher terrain and a more intelligent enemy. Apart from the enormous flexibility of the game options - you can even make your opposite number very stupid - the really smart feature of Populous is its comms feature.

Usually the game is single player, but with the addition of a modem two can compete. More sociable types can use a null-modem RS232 lead and talk to someone in closer range. High baud rates increase the speed of movement, and all versions of Populous use the same protocol, so Amigas can talk to STs. I can foresee many budding deities having trouble answering to a very large phone bill - a short game takes an hour.

The graphics are neatly isometric and the sound is suitably big for a game about supreme beings. What could really be done without is the flashing of the power LED on the Amiga casing in time to your heartbeat. Nervous types may assume a crash.

If the world's getting too much for you, build your own with Populous. It'll take you more than six days, and you won't want to rest until you're finished.

Populous 1 logo Format Gold


When God sits up there dishing out his judgements there is not an awful 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.


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.

Populous 1 logo CU Amiga Super Star

Electronic Arts
Price: £24.99

Well 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.

Populous 1: Explanation main screen

Populous 1 logo Zzap! Sizzler

Electronic Arts, Amiga £24.95

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.

Zzap's Nose

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.

Gordon Houghton 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 Evans 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.

Let there be more light

Populous 1... ...The Promised Lands logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

BEING a God can get you down sometimes. I mean it's all very well all that terraforming and being fervently adored by the thronging multitudes, but let me level with you - all this omnipotence gets a bit boring.

Staring down at the same little faces, flooding the same castles, accepting the same burnt sacrifices of the opposing religion's supporters. Sigh. Makes you wonder if it was all worthwhile in the first place.

Well fear not. If your creation is getting to be a drag, why don't you create some more? Or, if you're not feeling up to the task, those nice people at Electronic Arts have some they have prepared earlier - no sticky back plastic or previous experience required.

The original Populous was excellent. It is still riding high in the charts and has become the best selling game on the Amiga. Now comes the follow up, a disc containing five new maps. That is, five more environmental overlays for the original system.

Ever since the two 16 bit machines became competitively priced rivals there has been bitterness and hatred between the two camps. Abuse has been hurled, families which once nurtured peace and understanding have broken up into heavily-armed factions. Even some magazines have split over their format differences. There have been no terrorist attacks or hostage scenes yet, but it can only be a matter of time. Now you can decide it forever.

The Programmer map comes with two bands of merry men, Commodore supporters (hurrah!) and Atari freaks (Boo1). Both fight it out on a listing paper landscape, strewn with coffee cups, fag ends and other typical programming detritus.

Straighten out the listings and build Spectrums for your supports. (Well, everyone has to start somewhere). Scribble code to boost your numbers or launch a sneak attack with a floppy disc volcano. Take no quarter, careless swamps cost lives. Uncle Commodore needs YOU... Sorry, sometimes I get carried away.
But I always escape and come back again.

Moving on rather quickly we come to the Wild West scenario. Nice to see EA cast the Red Indians as the good guys. The world wouldn't be in the state if it is now if they were still in charge over there. Mind you, everyone's Amiga would be made of wood and buckskin.

No herds of buffalo sweeping majestically through the plains here, just desert, teepees and cactii. Watch out or the baddies will send a sheriff to decrease your numbers. I suppose that's a sort of Indian takeaway.

The nostalgic of you may like to return to tools you used to build your first universe. In Legoland, er, I mean Blockland, everything is made out of little blocks, including the houses, the trees and the people.

Discarded wheels hinder your cultivation plans while waves of decidedly uninviting green sea, which looks like it's composed of several thousand plastic blocks preheated at gas mark 7, lap against the blocky shores.

Sillyland is. Very. The land is silly, the people are silly and the houses... Well, you wouldn't credit it really.

Finally there is a kind of French flavour to the last map. No I don't mean lots of garlic and snails. I mean a rather topical, or perhaps typical, due to media saturation, reference to the French Revolution. Pull on your stripey T shirts and wheel out the guillotine, or heads are going to roll.

All the terrains have their particular characteristics reflected in the behavior of the followers - they die quicker in deserts, breed slower in the cold, and so on.

Overall this makes an excellent addition to Populous. What d'you mean you don't have Populous? I don't know, sometimes I despair of Godkind. Now where's that earthquake icon, that ought to bring the faithful to their knees...

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.

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)

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

Electronic Arts, AMIGA

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.

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

Electronic Arts/£9.99

Typical! Just as we were all getting to grips with Populous and all its raising mountains, building castles, summoning floods and generally playing God stuff, Electronic Arts returns with Populous Promised Lands, or God Sim Part II, to bring us even more lands to fight over.

Populous Promised Lands is a data disk which contains five new lands populated by strange, tough opponents. There's Revolution Francaise (Ooo la la! Ed), a land obviously under the influence of Bretons and the Arc de Triomphe. Silly Land, which seems to be overrun with blobby green space men. Wild West Land, which has cowboys and indians fighting it out on an American style plain. Computer Land where your population begin by living in ZX81's on a computer paper terrain, before progressing up to Cray Supercomputers. And finally Block Land, which bears a marked resemblance to the famous Lego Land.

Obviously a lot of time and imagination has been spent designing and implementing the graphics for each land. They are really good to look at, and for the most part stunning in originality and implementation.

Once loaded though, you can get straight down to some serious conquering if you want. All the passwords which took you to the higher levels of Populous can also be applied in Promised Lands. So if you're a more experiened player, there's no having to work your way through each separate level before you can get onto the higher ones. You can get straight down to battle in the higher levels if you want. I thought I'd better play safe though (hem), so kicked off with Genesis, which took to me to the land of the Eiffel Tower, where my be-bereted and stripey shirted peasants took on the smartly dressed soldiers of the opposition, in an all out battle of garlic and French sticks.

The opposing deities in Promised Lands are a bit more difficult to beat than in the original Populous. Whereas in the original it's possible to create floods, swamps, volcanoes and knights in the early stages, in Promised Lands your options are limited immediately. In Silly Land for example, my opposing deity spent all his (her?) time sticking volcanoes under any flat land which I created. So even in the early stages I was forced to use different and more complex strategies to wear down the opposition. My 'silly people' kept disappearing into thin air too, leaving just one castle and a walker every ten minutes or so. But whether or not these and other little glitches can be explained away as 'unusual features' I don't know.

Promised Lands may not enhance the actual gameplay of Populous to any great degree, but it does provide new and refreshing graphics for the Populous addict. At a mere ten pounds you can't go wrong.

Populous 1... ...World Editor logo

Electronic Arts £14.99

Fancy a new graphics theme for Populous? Want to have your people live longer? THen grab Populous World Editor and get snipping, clipping and drawing. It wasn't coded by the Bullfrogs but by a die hard Populous fan who wanted to make the game a little different One year later the little difference has become a full editing suite for the graphics and the game mechanics of Populous 1. Fun for games techies! (requires original Populous).

Populous 1... ...World Editor logo

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)

Populous 1... ...World Editor logo

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

The 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?

Populous 1... ...World Editor logo

If your copy of the original Populous is reaching the end of its useful life and spends more time locked in the games cupboard rather than sitting in the disk drive, then this useful editing program will help you design unlimited new worlds to conquer as well as subtly altering much of Bullfrog's aging god sim's original data.

This doesn't merely entail some superficial tarting up of the original Populous graphics, though. The editor comes with five completely finished worlds which can be imported to replace those of the existing Green world.
These include a Western world complete with saloon bars and cowboys and Indians and a bizarre Fast Food world populated by gigantic pizzas and bags of chips. Others include a futuristic Space world, a world based on the French Revolution and a Generic world which consists of very basic building blocks.

But that's not the end to this marvelous program's capabilities. It's also possible to import IFF files from other graphic programs and incorporate these into your own designs or, by using the somewhat basic paintbox options of the Editor, change the original Populous designs to those more to your liking. Graphic tools at your disposal include draw, fill, and merge options as well as a 16-colour palette. Once you're happy with your newly-designed homeland and sprites, all that's required is to save them to disk and load them into the original Populous.

Specific game parameters can also be altered, such as the birth and death rates of your subjects, the level of Manna that each household produces, and the intelligence of individuals (to produce better weapons). Fatal water can be made merely harmful, bottomless swamps turned into shallow bays and every form of disaster either controlled or allowed to run unchecked.

Using the editor is simplicity itself, even for those of very limited technical ability. If you can find your way around DPaint, then you'll have no problem with this. It's so intuitive that I didn't even have to consult the manual before I was busily designing my own rather abstract lands. Perhaps the Paintbox tools aren't brilliant, but the ability to import IFF files more than makes up for this failing. What makes the program even more appealing is the price which is a very competitive £14.99. Definitely a must for all Populous fans.

Surprisingly, the Populous World Editor isn't the work of Romford-based Bullfrog, but has been designed and programmed by Alexander Kochann and Oliver Reiff, two highly talented graphic artists. Hailing from Germany, the two men were so impressed with the original game that they set about designing their own gaming worlds for a friend, and, as one idea led to another, they ended up with a complete editing program. After showing their work to Bullfrog publishers, Electronic Arts, at the Amiga '90 show in Cologne, the pair were immediately signed up. After some reworking and bug testing of their program by Bullfrog themselves, the disk has finally been made available.