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PHIL Collins Abandons Solo Career Shock! No, but I'll bet that band is still going in the year 6600, where this game is based. The plot goes slightly like this... The Genesis Project was a group of synthetically altered scientists and their clones who took over a region of space and proceeded to shower mankind with all manner of benefits - joysticks that didn't get sticky when you ate pizza while playing games, antigravity... that sort of thing. Then came the invasion by some nasty aliens who boffin-napped the lot. And you, Group Captain O'Rourke, have to fly there and rescue them, save mankind, blow up the Zorkians, all that sort of thing.

That was the plot. This is the game - piloting a small spaceship with a gun at the front through a series of convoluted screens, picking up little men and women who wave at you while avoiding the nastier sort of explosive and zapping anything that moves. Forget the O'Rourke bit, and remember Defender.

The play area only takes up about half the screen. Above it is a nicely chromed score area, and below a radar map of the entire current maze, with little glowing blobs signalling the men to be picked up and little white blobs the homicidal maniacs. They fly towards you and try to either blow themselves up on your hull or lob a glowing life-re-liver at you. You can shoot the aliens, but the bombs are untouchable.

If you hit the surroundings while you're flitting about, you bounce - audibly - and reverse direction at full speed. No damage ensues, but only if a nasty hasn't materialised behind you. As some of the protrusions are set up in a zig-zag pattern some inspired joystickery is needed to get from A to C, without reversing into a shortly-to-be-ex alien. The scientists you pick up could well be carrying their favourite project.

There's a list of who does what in the small booklet that comes with the game. Once you've got the guys in the hold, you can use whatever it is that they've brought along - extra guns, time-space dilaters, turbochargers, Alien-O-Death areosols. You guess what it does and you can use it to your heart's content.

There are lots of levels, all very nicely drawn and with a wide sprinkling of hazards and different flavours of humanophobe. The game is very, very speedy. With the high level of on-screen obstacles and low level of freedom of movement, it's very easy to accelerate too far and end up in a chicane going the wrong way far too fast.

The graphics are wunderbar, the sound less so. Although the audio is initially impressive, after abit it becomes clear that the Amiga's capabilities aren't being stretched overly. The occasional voice sample livens things up - "Well clear" announces Amy as you polish off yet another screen. Lots of good points for a good, clean, exciting codeup of an old, old, old game idea. Not a lot of points for originaility, but shoot-'em-up addicts aren't going to care about that.

Parting shot. Why is the disc called Goldrunner when you look at it in Workbench? Is it because the author, Steve Bak, was also responsible for Goldrunner? We shall never know, captain.

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From the author of Goldrunner and Karate Kid we bring you... a terminal visual assault! Genesis is to Defender what Jinks is to Breakout; namely a sophisticated horizontal scroller that shifts like there's no tomorrow.

The game has moved firmly away from wire frame animations and is blessed with solid fills. What's more, 16 bit power is moving those fills at the kind of speeds you'll one day end up buying youself a pair of Porsche eyeballs to follow. In the meantime, have a bottle of Optrex handy.

It's 6600 A.D. And 12 scientists await transportation along with fifty of their clones in the ten worlds of the Zephyr region. The aim is to fly a high speed assault craft over, under and through richly textured landscapes populated with legions of hostile aliens. You must collect as many scientists as possible before moving on to the next world, and all along the way you have to enter into delicate negotiations with alien pursuit vehicles, i.e. blast them beyond recognition before they do the same to you.

Scientists are collected by running right through them - a method of contact they don't seem to mind since they're still prepared to provide you with additional resources once they're on board. Between levels you may choose from the group youhave rescued to acquire the technology to activate extra lasers, collision free movement, and higher speeds.

Colour has been used to great effect to enhance the speed and difficulty of the action; the backgrounds are beautifully designed, comprising a rich variety of motifs - butterflies, beetles, brains and, perhaps most appropriately, eyeballs, among the fine examples. Sound is pretty good too - there's some neat sampled voice and a great background track by David Whittaker.

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Price: £19.95

The Genesis of the title is apparently some ultra secret project of the future. The year is 6600 (yawn) and the world's top 12 scientists have been cloned 50 times and distributed over 50 planets in an attempt to put a stop to all the nasty diseases that are infecting Earth. But just when things seemed to be working out, the evil Mechanauts came along, conquered the 50 planets and took the scientists on each hostage. Your job, of course, is to get them back.

All this is rather corny guff boils down to a strange mish-mash of ideas ripped off from Uridium. Each planet is represented as a long narrow vertically scrolling strip about 40 screens in length. At the start of each level your spacecraft is deposited at the far left-hand of the planet and the object is to find the 12 scientists and rescue them.

By skimming the surface from left to right you'll come across a little guy in a white coat waving at you. By flying over him you can pick him up. Each scientists has a special project with him that can be used to upgrade your ship. Projects include shields, extra weapons and the ability to speed up your ship.

Not that it needs to be speeded up though. It's incredibly fast to begin with, and when you consider that inertia plays an important part, the ship is frustratingly difficult to control properly. In your first few games I can guarntee that you'll be bouncing off landscapes features. And then, of course, there are the Mechanauts' fighters. What infuriated me about the alien ships is the way they lock on to you and hardly ever miss. They creep up behind you and blow you away before you get much chance to react. It's all very annoying.

Fortunately help is at hand. At the bottom of your screen is a radar scanner strip that shows the entire planet and highlights your position, any scientists on the level, and the position of any enemy ships, so if you're quick you can get yourself in line with the alien ship before it comes on screen and thus pump it full of lead before it can open fire.

If you manage to rescue (or alternatively shoot) all the scientists on the planet, the level closes down and you proceed to the next. Some of the later levels have been fiendishly designed and include coil-like tubes that must be flown through to rescue certain scientists. The problem here is that if a nasty alien matey zips down the same tube after you there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to get out of the way, as you can't move up or down.

Steve Bak and Pete Lyon, formerly responsible for Goldrunner and Leatherneck (reviewed this ish) have come up with a fairly neat shoot-em-up here. The graphics certainly are some of the prettiest ever for a game of this type, the only problem being that things can sometimes get a little confused because of the detailed scenery.

Sonically, everything is fine and dandy, with a jolly David Whittaker tune, plenty of FX and some really great speech. In fact the only problem I found was that the gameplay area is far too narrow. At least a third of the screen has been taken by the flashy score display.

It may look pretty, but I'm sure it could have been cut down to proide more manoeuvring space. It's this lack of space and the intelligence of the alien fighters that makes Return to Genesis rather too difficult to play. Nevertheless, if you're an experienced blaster, and are looking for something to provide a real challenge, or want a good Uridium clone, this could be for you.