Supremacy logo

Publisher: Melbourne House Price: £24.99

Barry The Bad, ruler of four star systems, Lord and Master over millions of cowering minions, sneered contemptuously as Rorn prostrated himself at the feet of his conqueror. "Forgive me, oh Barry, for my insolent attempt to oppose your will. My life and possessions are yours in victory. Do with me as you will."

Barry's sneer became a grunt of disgust. "You unspeakable insect!" he boomed, raising his hand to strike the fatal blow. "You will die very slowly..."

At that moment, however, a strange figure appeared in the entrance to his throne room. "Barry! You haven't washed those dishes yet, you naughty boy!" Barry groaned. "For God's sake mum, I'm playing Supremacy!"

For all you power-hungry trainspotters and match box collectors out there, Supremacy is the latest sci-fi empire building strategy game to appear on the Amiga. Not a lot to excite the old cerebral cortex there, you might think. What makes this one different from all the others? Well, in the final analysis, just about enough to elevate the game above the average.

It's in the sound and graphics department that it makes its biggest impact. The intro sequence, showing a God-like person forming a new universe, is very nicely done, and is accompanied by mood-setting music of demo quality. From here, you might expect presentation to lapse a bit as the game gets under way, but with Supremacy this is definitely not the case.

You control things from what is basically a collection of choice screens activated by mouse clicks, and in some games these can be a tad dull. From the first screen onwards however, Supremacy is a bit of a visual threat.
Hugely colourful and packed with info, the screens are easily the best of their kind I've seen and even include spot animation effects as an added distraction. Sound is provided as a series of one-offs, the best of which is the mellow female voice crooning 'message' every time one of your opponents wants to insult you, or a natural disaster occurs such as 'coach load of Leeds United supporters now disembarking in Bay 3'.

All very nice, and supported by excellent static graphics of the various ships you can purchase.

What lets Supremacy down a little is the gameplay. In strategy games, this is by far the most important element of all, and the best graphics in the world are to no avail if gameplay is sub-standard. I'm not suggesting that Supremacy is actually sub-standard, it's just that it doesn't offer anything especially new.

Your expansionist aims must be rooted in sound economy, and in order to achieve the elusive miracle you must balance a variety of factors from tax levels to food production and population growth. To its credit, Supremacy keeps things tightly inter-connected, such that lower tax levels will increase morale, which will lead to higher levels of 'breeding', and therefore more people to draft into the armed forces. However, you soon find that those same lower tax levels have left you so skint you can't afford to equip your new soldiers properly.

As everything happens in real time, and you can see the effects of each decision almost instantaneously, the game is given a sense of urgency often missing from others of the type.
You soon find yourself clicking away madly at the mouse in an effort to juggle all the variables which affect progress towards universal omnipotence, and if your first attempts are anything like mine, things start hitting the floor quite quickly.

That, unfortunately, is that. The presentation initially generates enough of the 'Cooorrr!' element to keep interest levels high, but once this has worn off, content and gameplay are just a little short of the expectations thus created The Amiga's sound and graphics capabilities are utilised more fully than is usual with strategy games, some of which set out to be as bland as possible, but its strategy element on which it must stand or fall, is just not original enough to warrant the window dressing.

All in all, Probe have taken an average game system and married it to better than average graphics to produce a game which, rather than standing head and shoulders above the competition, shows just a hairline and the odd eyebrow.


Supremacy logo Amiga Format Gold

VIRGIN £29.99 * Mouse

Nations have always fought for a place in the sun and, equally, for the 'glory of empire'. Unfortunately, these imperialistic tendencies are not limited to man: inhabitants of other star systems, supposedly more advanced, also crave the soil of other races and galactic supremacy.

Now you can take the reins of a newly-founded stellar civilisation and turn it from one-planet backwater into an empire where the sun never sets (because you will own the star, too). Four systems are yours for the taking consisting of 8, 16, 32 or (again) 32 planets. In each region you ace up to a different opponent whose own colonial management skill grows with the number of worlds he, she or it controls. As you start from the same position, but at the far end of the system, it is an even-money race for Supremacy.

Total power means concentrating on fifteen different tasks at once. Populations must be fed and taxed, but how little or how much is up to you. Ships and factories must be built and moved, carrying and producing the resources that fuel your drive for empire. Armies have to be trained, equipped and positioned, a process that erodes more of your wealth as the inevitable war looms. Messages must be monitored, as they contain vital information about your enemy's actions and fate - back room boys develop new star drives and fruitful crops, while comets smash planets and radiation storms erse civilisations.

Via icon-filled screens you monitor the whole process and so control your chattels. The main display outlines the status of each planet, while special screens give more in-depth detail on the economic, military, production and cargo facilities available. All are interlinked to promote speedy access between related stages.

As the colonies spread, your brain is gradually stretched to snapping point trying to keep track of shuttling ships, supplies and troops between stars. Thoroughness is demanded but is impossible to achieve. Ships are left sitting in the docking bays of starving planets, holds groaning with food. Battleships are sent racing towards new war zones entirely bereft of troops, as your mind locks up trying to cope with too much too fast.

When the shooting starts, you know the race for supremacy is the final straight. Are the troops well enough trained? Do they have the kit to see off the invaders? Or will an earlier saving on weapons haunt you? This is the challenge of Supremacy. Total power is yours for the taking and that is a powerful hook indeed.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Essentially a management game, Supremacy should not, by tradition, look good. Yet while the gameplay is conducted via icons, the peripheral graphics give the game bite. The ships are glorious, the background screens informative and small windows around the screen feature animations which continually catch the eye. Backed up with a mystical intro and a gruesome outro, Supremacy has real style. Background sounds are there but add little, mainly supporting the peripheral graphics, and so cannot be expected to excel. When combined, though, they make this management challenge of galactic proportions easily understandable.

LASTING INTEREST

The four opponents increase in cunning and make life real hard. The first is little more than a trainer and is summarily seen off afer a few wars. Numbers two and three are experts imperialists who really stomp the terra. The fourth is the 'man' to shoot for: resplendent in devilish scarlet, he knows and uses every trick in the book to gain control of 'his' 32-planet system. He is hard to beat with sneak attacks, forcing players to learn more devious economic trick, just to survive.

JUDGEMENT

The scope of Supremacy combined with its easily accessible format make this one a must for megalomaniacs. The strategy is strong enough to engross even ardent armchair generals, but is instantly playable enough to win over arcade freaks too. Focussing on the few basics of life it makes ruling the stars a simple concept to grasp yet is hard enough to be a real challenge. A classical science fiction dream you the resources to fulfil: but have you got the power?


Was kostet das Universum?

Supremacy logo

Was kann es Schöneres geben als die Vorherrschaft im Weltall - sowas simuliert man immer wieder gerne! Aber Virgins strategisches SF-Spektakel hat noch viel mehr zu bieten als eine höchst verlockende Aufgabenstellung.

Bereits das Gewicht der Packung läßt erahnen, daß hier mal wieder reichlich Lesestoff durchgeackert werden will. Und so ist es auch: Immerhin 96 Seiten umfaßt das (englische) Handbuch, das den Spieler Schritt für Schritt in die komplexe Materie einführt.

Natürlich findet man darin auch die Hintergrundgeschichte: Durch einen bedauerlichen aber folgenschweren Irrtum ist das Gefüge des Alls durcheinander geraten, und unser Sonnensystem hat plötzlich vier neue Nachbarn bekommen. Was tut man in so einem Fall? Na, was gestandene Sternenherrscher halt immer tun: Truppen aufstellen, Planeten kolonisieren und die bösen Gegner fertigmachen! Endziel ist jedenfalls die Eroberung der feindlichen Sternenbasis.

Als erstes darf man sich unter vier Rassen mit unterschiedlicher Stärke seinen Wunschgegner aussuchen. Gleichzeitig wird damit eine bestimmte Zahl von Planeten festgelegt, die es zunächst zu "formatieren", sprich bewohnbar zu machen gilt. Davon gibt es vier verschiedene Typen: Dschungelplaneten etwa eignen sich gut für Lebensmittelstationen, Vulkanplaneten kommen dagegen vor allem als Treibstoff- und Mineralienlieferanten in Betracht.

Durch geschickte Platzierung von Planetenstationen vergr"ßert man sein Imperium und damit auch die Anzahl der Untergebenen, die (wie überall im Universum) durch Steuern geschröpft werden. Übertreiben sollte man es damit aber nicht, die guten Leute müssen ja auch als Soldaten herhalten! Um Schließlich die produzierten Güter und seine wackeren Truppen durch's All kutschieren zu können, kommt man um die Anschaffung einiger Fracht- und Kampfschiffe nicht herum.

Der Hauptscreen des Spiels zeigt die animierte Planetenkarte und ein Nachrichtenfenster. Per Mausklick gelangt man zu den diversen Untermenüs, wo sich das eigentliche Geschehen abspielt - Einkauf, Training, Kampf, Planetensteuerung usw.. Alles und jedes ist grafisch hervorragend gestylt und mit realistischen Soundeffekten unterlegt.

Auch die Handhabung ist einwandfrei: Jeder Screen ist übersichtlich gestaltet, und zumindest bei genügend Speicher (1 MB) entfällt auch das lästige Nachladen.

Daß Supremacy knapp an einem Hit vorbeigeschrammt ist, liegt vorwiegend daran, daß keine Zwei-Spieler-Option eingebaut wurde - auch wenn die Spielstärken der vier Digi-Gegner sehr gut gestaffelt sind, bringt so ein "Human" halt einfach mehr Pep in eine Simulation dieser Art. Aber ansonsten wird auch der anspruchvollste großimperator zufriedengestellt: Von der realistischen Gestaltung (z.B. läuft das Game in Echtzeit ab) bis zur wunderschönen "Verpackung" stimmt hier eigentlich alles! (wh)


Supremacy logo CU Amiga Superstar

MELBOURNE HOUSE/VIRGIN MASTERTRONIC
PRICE: £19.99

Every so often a game will come along that will knock spots off the competition; it will be an absolute corker, a true thoroughbred that takes a particular genre by the scruff of the neck, ignores convention and routine, and comes up with a radically different game destined to become a classic. Supremacy, from Virgin Mastertronic, is just such a game and looks set to storm the charts.

Supremacy is a space strategy game and pits the player against four alien empires in four different planetary systems. The first scenario involves an 8-planet system with your starbase at one end and the enemy's base on the other. The objective is to build up resources such as money, minerals and food and train and equip an army to fend off attack and eventually capture the enemy's home planet. Food is an essential requirement, unless you want to see your population wither and die, so it is best to invest in a food processor from the very start. Without fuel you won't be able to power your space craft and energy is needed to help run mining equipment. Essentially, the game is a battle for economic and military domination and resource management is the key to success.

The other six planets in the system are lifeless and can be colonised to exploit their resources once they have been formatted. The animation used to depict planet formatting is similar to the genesis effect used in the Star Trek: Wrath of Khan movie with a sweeping electrical field engulfing the lifeless world. A Volcanic planet is great for fuel and mineral production but not very good forgenerating wealth. A Metropolis planet is useful for generating cash but not efficient at food production. Planet formatting is random so you never know what type of planet you are going to get until after the process has finished. By clicking onto the desired planet a small inset screen depicts the type of world that has been created: a volcanic eruption for a volcanic world, skyscrapers for a metropolis, green fields for a tropical world and so on.

The depth of gameplay is enormous. What at first looks a very simple task soon becomes increasingly complex. The first system is easy to master, once the basic techniques have been learnt, and the leader of the rebel kingdom soon capitulates. If you have any trouble, the boxed manual offers a host of hints on how to progress further. The next three systems are much larger, require a lot more planning, and offer adversaries who are more adept at military strategy. Mining stations and food processors can be bought for cash in the first game, but thereafter require a combination of cash, food, minerals and energy. It is possible to inherit such equipment by attacking enemy planets and taking over any equipment left behind.

At the time of writing, I have managed to defeat Wotok, the first leader, through sheer brute force (an attack force of 16 crack platoons!) and have succeeded in offing the leader of the next system. It was not easy, though, as there were double the number of planets to exploit and it was not possible to send battle ships to the enemy's HQ as you could do in the first scenario.

The icons allow quick access to all the screens. My only grumble here is the need to access so many of them to buy, crew, launch and set up a farming or mining unit on another planet. The same goes for training and equipping an army and flying into battle. It is also a good idea to use a pen and notepad (not provided) to keep track on where all your troops are and which planets have farming/mining units on them. Although you can access this info it is rather time consuming and while you are doing that the enemy could be attacking one of your planets.

The use of on-screen messages adds another dimension to the game. The main screen not only tells you when an enemy is attacking, who has won the battle, or when food supplies are getting low but also relays important news stories from around the solar system. During play I received messages telling me a plague of aracno-insects has wiped out my farming units on one planet and that my scientists had developed a nuclear drive so I did not need to refuel my battle ships. Some of these messages are entirely random so no two games are entirely alike.

There is a variety of ways to play the game. On level one I adopted a gung-ho attitude, built up a vast army of super-soldiers and went straight for the jugular. By level two this tactic won't succeed. I had to adopt a more careful strategy and slowly build up resources and equipment before I could launch an effective attack. Even then, when I sent 8 platoons to his starbase I found myself vastly outnumbered and had to hastily retreat and send for reinforcements. Another approach is to build an empire of rich manufacturing planets, buy the best equipped troops, and fortify each planet against attack.

The game has some marvellous touches. When attacking enemy troops there are three animation screens depicting the battle which come up alternatively each time the battle screen is selected. There is also a panel where you can chose the aggressiveness of your troops as they fight. This increases their strength level but means that they die quicker. As enemy forces increase a faint image of the opposing dictator forms across the system screen which gets brighter as the enemy approaches your starbase.

It is essential to play the first level and not get stuck into the most difficult scenario straight away. The last levelbady guy is a tough nut who can outsmart and outflank you with ease. I have not defeated him yet and it looks like it will be a long time before I do. I cockily played against him as soon as I got the game and was soon reduced to licking his boots.

Nick Bruty (design) and David Perry (programming) have come up with the ultimate in strategy games. There are so many different ways to play Supremacy that you can always find a new approach and a different set of tactics to use. A classic.


Supremacy logo ZERO Hero

We're beginning to worry about Paul Lakin. After being elected ZERO Milk and Door Monitor in the same week, the power rather went to his head and he kept rushing off to the games room to play Supremacy...

What a shame everybody has to be so ambitious. Just imagine a world in which you were the only person who wanted more out of life than a hap'orth of chips and a quick fumble in the back seat at the Roxy.
There would be nothing standing between you and complete world domination. Sadly once you start trying to rule the world you find about 8 million other people trying to do exactly the same thing. Fortunately by the beginning of Supremacy you have already managed to gain control of your own planet and rule it as a benevolent... well fairly benevolent... alright, a really rather brutal dictator.

Now there's a whole universe out there just begging to be colonised. Unfortunately there are four alien dictators out there hell bent on exactly the same objective as you (the four different aliens represent four different levels of the game). Between you lie a number of lifeless planets and the aim of the game is to colonise them. Eventually you aim to arrive at your opponent's home planet...

The basis of any success is your base. (So to speak) This is Starbase, the only place where you can buy goods and raise armies. It is also, for much of the game, your major source of income and manpower. Therefore a lot of attention has to be paid to keeping the home fires burning.

Your key method of control is taxation. Now any dictator worth his salt likes nothing better than to bleed his population dry with a bit of crippling taxation. However, it's important to think before you tax. High taxes keep the population down which is useful if you're running a bit short of food but this will reduce your tax revenue eventually. Also if your population is declining, then where are you going to get your soldiers from?

However let's be generous and assume that you've got your economy ticking over nicely, there's enough food and fuel for all, plenty of dosh in the kitty, population level is fairly steady and everyone is happy. (Except Mrs Nesbitt but then she's never really been happy since she had all those problems with her gall bladder). Now what? Well, now your eyes turn heavenwards, you look at the planets twinkling in the sky (and they really do twinkle, they're very proud of that at Virgin!) and you think to yourself "Ooh I quite fancy of those".

Assuming your arch rival hasn't already got his ugly little hands on them then none of the planets in the system are inhabitable. So the first step for any budding Galactic Emperor is to invest in a rather neat little machine that sanitises the atmosphere of any planet. (A machine like this might be pretty useful on our own dear planet in a few years). Once this mechanical wonder has done its stuff then it's time to colonise. Before you know where you are you'll have troop ships, agriculture stations and mining gear whizzing between the two planets. And soon two could become three and three become... but well, life's never that easy.

The biggest obstacle between you and success is the alien. Depending which alien you choose he'll either be a strategic genius, pretty damn cunning, rather slow or frankly a bit thick. Whatever his IQ level he'll have his heart set on one thing and that's wiping you out of existence. He too will be colonising planets. He'll also be launching sorties against planets you already own. This is the sort of guy whose idea of a fun night out is to turn up at your Starbase and annihilate everyone on it. Exciting maybe but also a tadge anti-social.

As well as aliens there are also natural disasters to contend with. The sort of thing Insurance Companies describe as an Act of God. Like all your agriculture stations being afflicted by a plant virus, or an entire planet being destroyed by a meteorite.

While you're sorting out all these problems on some far flung colony you may suddenly realise that you've forgotten to reduce the, ahem, temporary emergency tax levels on Starbase. By now the population's probably upped and left for a tax haven on Alpha Cenjersey.

If this is what it takes to be dictator then perhaps the back row of the Roxy's not such a bad prospect after all. Not that many people have been zapped by aliens while watching Casablanca.

Amiga reviewPaul: All that glitters is not gold, all that's violent is not exciting and al that's complex is not necessarily mind numbingly dull. All of which is a slightly cack-handed way of saying that although Supremacy is extremely complex, it's also very straightforward and above all completely gripping.

Imagine playing Sim City with all the options (including the monster) switched on. Eek! Then imagine that instead of just one city you're controlling loads and looking to take on more. Imagine that and you'll be some way to imagining Supremacy.

Considering that this is, at heart, an icon driven strategy game, the screens are really atmospheric. In the corner of the combat control screen there are animated sequences displaying conflict or conquest. The various ships and goods that you can buy are beautifully drawn.

One of the other impressive aspects of this game is the variety in pace. There are times of steady progress where you move calmly from one stage to the next. There are times when you sit back, take stock and wait for resources to build up. There are also times of complete panic and mayhem when, for example, you receive a message that one of your planets is about to be wiped out by a meteorite. Cheers. As you progress through the levels, your opponents get tougher, planetary systems bigger and the game more complex. However, the complexity never overshadows the playability. This is a real edge-of-your-seat strategy game and you don't get many of those. Stop


A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF
BADDIES
Supremacy: Algernon the Alien ALGERNON THE ALIEN
Despite failing his GSCE in marauding, young Algy's early career has been fairly promising. Sadly the possession of only two brain cells (and one of those on loan from Aunty Ethel in the Blackpool Nebula) has rather hampered him in his rise to arch villain status.
Supremacy: Mr J. Smith MR J. SMITH
Despite his 'normal' name Mr Smith is actually the most powerful and evil being in the universe. So we wouldn't dare to print anything about him, not even his name... oh, bugger.
Supremacy: Rod the Slob ROD THE SLOB
After bit parts in Star Trek, Dr Who and Neighbours, Rod decided to try the real thing. His military conquests were successful but his attempt to turn an entire solar system into an Advanced Drama Studio bankrupted the economy. Rod can now be seen as reserve host on Take Over Bid.
Supremacy: Anony Mouse ANONY MOUSE
Remarkably successful, yet completely unknown interplanetary dictator, Anony conquered before committing suicide on discovering that his mum couldn't remember his name.

Supremacy logo Zzap! Sizzler

Virgin Mastertronic, Amiga £29.99

Becoming the 'master of the world/universe/multiverse/bridge club' has always been a popular topic of strategy games. The title of Virgin Mastertronic's latest, 'Supremacy', just about says it all, really.

You play the leader of Epsilon. Your system is linked to four star systems, an alien planet lies at the end of each. This is a convenient way of saying that the game has four levels of difficulty via four different opponents. Wotok, Smine, Krart and Rorn all have increasing amounts of intelligence, aggression, etc. Not surprisingly, you must defeat each alien race in turn to become supreme ruler.

However, there is the little matter of survival before wild thoughts of empire building come into focus. You must raise the population, juggle taxes, monitor morale, initiate food, mineral, fuel and energy production and begin building and training your armed forces.

A variety of spaceships will aid the cause, initially. They are divided up into Cargo Cruisers (to ferry supplies from planet to planet), Solar Satellite Generators (providing energy during planetary orbit to the planet below), Battle Cruisers (the offensive hardware that also makes a handy people-carrier due to its large hold capability), Atmosphere Processors (this god-like mechanism formats a lifeless planet for human habitation), Mining Stations (situated on the planet surface producing minerals and fuel) and Horticultural Stations (situated on the planet surface producing food).

Building armed forces, for example, asks you to select the amount of men allocated in one platoon (200 men max per platoon, 24 platoons max in your army) to be taken from the planet's civilian population. Then you select the quality of your men's body armour and weapons. Obviously, the better the equipment the more expensive it is. There are many linked factors in Supremacy. For example, drafting men to the army decreases the civilian population and, thus, lowers your tax revenues. However, it also lowers the planet's food intake (soldiers do not eat the planetary food reserves). A case of swings and roundabouts, therefore.

A deficiency of any essential resources (food, energy, etc) results in the lowering of the population due to hardship. Also, disasters can occur. For example, the testing of a new formatting process went wrong on one planet, resulting in a mass slaughter of the planetary population due to nuclear fallout. Other events included the imminent collision of a rampaging comet etc.

Thus, you will find yourself struggling an increasing amount of planets, a larger amount of varying factors and, therefore, more and more problems. The more successful you become, the more difficult the game becomes - and I haven't even mentioned the enemy yet!

Combat is largely an automatic affair, you just sit and watch the events roll in front of you. Attacks on any of your planets had better be met by a resident garrison otherwise you will have lost a planet in a very short time. Even resident garrisons should be monitored and periodically topped-up as they will be whittled away by attrition. The enemy is a devious and cunning opponent, sometimes hitting your home base, venturing behind enemy lines, and concentrating on your weaker forces.

Graphics are excellent with lots of spot animation and sound effects that add to the atmosphere. The manual is also a credit and the interface is easy to use, utilising icons, and contains a useful tutorial.

Supremacy is as good a game as Electronic Art's Imperium - for exactly the opposite reasons! It is very easy to get into and play and recommended to beginner and experienced strategists alike. The presentation is glossy and entertaining, the challenge is high and tactical thought is necessary. In fact, any game that can keep me up till five o'clock in the morning has to have something going for it!