Venus the Flytrap logo

GREMLIN GRAPHICS £19.99 * Joystick

The overuse of pesticides and intensive farming has caused a breakdown in the ecosystem, killing off all the insects. To restore balance, the scientists create new breeds of cyber-insects, using hastily-learnt genetic engineering techniques. Predictably, a DNA fault in the creatures causes them to go mad and swarms of killer insects wreak havoc on the planet.

Total disaster can only be prevented by a single, special insect: Venus, The Fly Trap. You guide this insect equivalent of Robocop through the ten areas of the game, which include the Forbidden Forest, Wood World, Death Valley and the Stygian Creek. Your task is to walk Venus along left-scrolling scenery leaping chasms, dodging or killing insects and picking up bonus items.

There are many of these, some of which give you multi-fire cannons, R-Type-style beam-up weapons, extra lives or flying power. Although you can just get close to a target and pump the fire button like mad, extra military potential certainly makes the job quicker and easier. With time-limits imposed on each stage, speed is definitely your greatest need!

Venus would be a simple game but for the cunning pitfalls, which are planted here and there.

The most obvious are the icons marked on the floor. These make you lose time, bounce you into the path of gunfire or catapult you onto the ceiling. Fighting inverted is a technique you must master. Some bonus pods are also not at all helpful. Some flip the joystick direction to cause confusion, others turn into skulls which drain all your life away.

Between each level you are thrown into a bonus sub-game. Here you fly across the screen as hordes of insects bear down on you, shooting and dodging like crazy, picking up energy and bonus pods as they're released. Run out of energy and the sub-game is over, so be quick.

The final twist lies with the bonus rooms, hidden in chasms. To find them you must put your life at risk, because they're invisible. If there's no entrance in the hole you've dropped into, that's it. Goodnight Sooty! If you are lucky enough to find one, then you get to collect tons of bonus goodies before you come back to the game proper and play on.


Venus is a well-presented game, featuring attractive colours and sprites throughout. The scrolling and animation is smooth, with very little flicker. Graphic styles change every five stages so there's plenty of variety as you work your way through. Music is a little twee, but not unbearable, (it is possible to switch it off it you don't like it) and sound effects are competent.


Some of the levels, notably the Creeping Swamp and the Kaverns, contain excellent backgrounds which help to brighten up the hard slog to completion. Larger, more deadly insects also contribute to the long-term appeal, as do the Giant Cannons which pop up out of the floor.
Insects themselves get 'tooled up' in the last few levels, providing many a surprise: the docile-looking slugs you meet on Level One have big brothers with Armalites on Level Ten.


For an 'original' game, it really isn't that original at all. It has a good plot and competent shoot-'em-up programming, but follows the template of most other games in the genre. Fortunately, the right elements have been mixed in the right proportions, and assembled well. The end result is an addictive, playable game, with plenty of fun and excitement. At the price, it's one to have if you enjoy a good ecological bash!

Venus the Flytrap logo Amiga Joker Hit

Insekten sind groß im Kommen: Nachdem diverse Fliegen in den gleichnamigen Filmen die Kinokassen zum Klingen brachten, hat sich nun die englische Softwareschmiede Gremlin des Themas angenommen. Herausgekommen ist dabei ein Actiongame der Sonderklasse!

Zwar hat die Hintergrundstory von Venus nicht das mindeste mit dem Filmplot zu tun, jedoch sieht hier die Zukunft nicht weniger düster aus: Die Menschheit hat von den verschiedensten Insektiziden so ausgiebig Gebrauch gemacht, daß schließlich die kleinen Biester ganz und gar ausgerottet wurden. Das plötzliche Defizit an Krabbeltieren hat jedoch Mutter Natur vollends aus dem Gleichgewicht geworfen, weshalb die Wissenschaft flugs eigene Insekten entworfen hat, um der bedrohlichen Entwicklung entgegenzuwirken.

Unglücklicherweise sind dabei ganz furchtbare Killer-Insekten entstanden! Also hat man auf die Schnelle eine mechanische Kampf-Fliege zusammen gezimmert, die nun die Welt von den tödlichen Käfern, Motten und Raupen befreien soll...

In fünf butterweich horizontal scrollenden Leveln warten unzählige Insekten darauf, vom Screen geputzt zu werden. Dies gestaltet sich in der Praxis aber ja ganz anders als man das erwarten würde: Unsere Robot-Fliege kann nämlich gar nicht fliegen, sondern nur hüpfen und ballern. Deshalb ähnelt das Spielveld auch mehr einem Plattformgame als einem klassischen Shoot 'em up.

Was die Spielfigur aber sehr wohl kann, ist an der Decke herumkrabbeln - sofern sie vorher auf ein entsprechendes Symbol gelaufen ist, das sie in die Höhe katapultiert. Wieder andere Symbole ermöglichen einen Supersprung, manche sorgen auch dafür, daß die Steuerung nun spiegelverkehrt ist. Natürlich dürfen auch die Extrawaffen nicht fehlen: Getötete Feinde hinterlassen öfter Eier (merkwürdig, diese Killer-Insekten, was?), die entweder Zusatzpunkte oder feine Power-Schüsse enthalten.

Damit das Ganze nicht zu leicht wird, gibt's noch ein Zeitlimit, innerhalb dessen die Level gesäubert werden müssen, auch ist die Munition nicht unbegrenzt verfügbar.

Technisch gesehen ist an Venus nicht das geringste auszusetzen: Die Hintergründe sind farbenfroh und detailreich, die Sprites groß und befriedigend animiert, und auch der Sound ist, wie er sein soll. Selbst spielerisch war kein Tadel zu finden, die Stick-Steuerung ist sehr exakt und macht die Kammerjagd zum reinen Vergnügen.

Was das Game aber vor allem anderen auszeichnet, ist die ausgewogene Mischung aus Baller-Action und Knobelei, denn an manchen Stellen muß man die kleinen grauen Zellen schon anstrengen, um herauszufinden, wie's weitergeht!

Das berühmte Schlusswort kann also nur lauten: Gremlin ist mit Venus ein absolutes Spitzengame gelungen, das sicher bald Kultstatus erreicht haben wird. Weder Action-Freaks noch Insektenhasser dürfen sich diesen Spaß entgehen lassen! (ml)

Venus the Flytrap logo

PRICE: £19.99

Like many games currently on release, Venus: The Fly Trap has an environmental message. Set in the far flung future, over intensive farming, coupled with the use of chemical super-pesticides, has eradicated all insect life and the planet's ecosystem has been given a swift kick in the geraniums.

In a belated attempt to put things right, Man has created a race of cybernetic insects. In best B-movie tradition the cybosects have gone mad, resulting in swarms of mechanical killers. To combat this menace, scientists have built the ultimate killer insect, codename: Venus. What Percy Thrower would have made of all this is anyone's guess.

Corny plot aside, Venus is played over 10 worlds, each consisting of five levels. Each world is strikingly different from the last and varies from tropical rainforest to a high tech world, burning deserts or an arctic waste among others. Scrolling from left to right, the fly has to hop about shooting as many of the cybosects as possible while completing each level within the set time limit. There are also 20 secret rooms hidden around the various worlds, each containing surprises on their own! After completing each level there's a bonus section where the fly must face off against a plague of flying insects.

When larger insects are shot, they drop bonus pods which, when shot again, give the player extra points, vitality, ammo or time. Watch out, though, as some drain the fly's lifeforce and another 'mystery' bonus can reverse the joystick controls and throw things out of sync.

As the fly hops around, there are ground icons liberally scattered about such as magnets which prevent jumping, hyper jumps which allow the fly to make massive leaps, time loss pads and gravity reversal mats which inverse the direction of gravity so you find yourself rising to the top of the screen and continuing from there.

The fly can take up to five hits before exploding and losing a life. It's fairly easy to avoid getting hit as the joystick controls are responsive and nothing moves fast enough to give much trouble until the later levels. There are a number of power-ups to collect varying from a puny one-shot weapon to 4-way ammo and mortars. You'll certainly need some of the other weapons in later levels when you come up against some of the BIG insects. There are more than 20 different kinds of cybosects on the loos: some can be bumped off easily while others take considerably more firepower to destroy them.

Graphically, Venus: The Fly Trap is stunning. The fly looks and moves realistically. At times it seems to assume a life of its own! The scrolling is smooth and the Amiga's colour palette is used well. Sonicwise, the sound effects are adequate. The only time they come into their own is on the bonus section when the continuous hum sounds chilling.

The bonus section also provides a good test of your reflexes and shoot 'em up skills as the insects attack at speed and soak up a lot of firepower.

Venus is instantly playable. With a one or two player option, it's a touch easy, but the 50 levels should keep you occupied for a few fun-filled hours and it's encouraging to see Gremlin selling the game at twenty quid. But don't take my word for it; play the demo on the cover disk and make up your own mind.

Venus the Flytrap logo

Dee Dee Doo Doo Daa Daa Goddess on a mountain top... Dee dee doo daa... Bananarama, eh? They're a pile of old jobs and no mistake. Not very inspired and not very original. Neither of which can be said of Gremlin's new title Venus. David Wilson undid his flies and was subsequently arrested, but not before he penned his review of Gremlin's metal fly masterpiece.

Venus the goddess of lurve, a planet, a Bananarama record and a plant that prays on flies. No prizes for guessing which inspired the title of Gremlin's new game. You lot should be fairly familiar with this little number already, what with ZERO giving you a free playable demo of a couple of levels way back on our May issue.

Basically - as the story board intro reminds you each time you boot up, mankind has managed to duff up practically all of insect life on the planet Earth. Always happy to make a drama out of a crisis, man then creates a race of robotic insects to redress the eco-balance. For some reason that escapes me for the moment, most of these mutate into a horrid species of killer insects, thus provoking man to imitate nature once again in creating a predator, a sort of super fly.

Anyway, you get to play this self same fly in ten five-level 'worlds' (that's 50 levels to you and me, oh and a 'bonus' level per world) of graphically appealing, horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up. There are numerous killer insects to cope with from the terminally crap to the downright dangerous.

As you'd expect the difficulty progresses through the 50 levels and in these latter stages the various icons that enable you to perform 'super jumps' and 'ceiling walks' are much more in evidence, whilst the extra ammo and super weapons are far fewer. You'd be best advised to know your icons so you can put them to good use and avoid the red herrings. (Using a 'ceiling walk' icon when there ain't no ceiling can be rather hazardous to your health!). Talking of which, ceiling walking adds a novel twist to gameplay, as you'll have to play upside down. (ZERO helpful tip: why not get a chum to turn your monitor/telly upside down each time you encounter one of these sequences?)

Amiga reviewDavid: I probably won't need to remind you of just how nice Venus looks. I mean we gave you a free demo and many of you have commented to this effect in your letters. You should be aware then that Venus also plays well and requires a bit of 'strategy' as you figure out how the different icons can be utilised to your advantage in various situations.

Most beasties you kill will leave metal pods behind which you can shoot to reveal bonus extras. Some unleash a little heart with wings that flutters skywards (you'll have to move quickly to catch these, but it's worth doing for extra life/energy).

On the earlier levels you'll find more ammo and super weapons, whilst on the later levels it's mainly extra points and the occasional time bonus. Best to stock up then on the earlier levels! At the end of each 'world' you'll have a bonus level. All nine of these look exactly the same I'm afraid and basically entail you facing zillions of various insects. Some are indestructible and need avoiding, others can be shot to produce bonus icons.

Collect as many as you can to replenish your stocks before you venture into the next world! The further into the game you go the more difficult it becomes, the enemies become tougher and start firing back, and the puzzles and pitfalls become that much harder. Reach a new level and you'll be given a password so you can bypass earlier levels in future (and miss out on the weapons and ammo!). As a result of this I found that the earlier levels lacked pace and challenge. However as you progress, both these factors increase and by then you're hooked.

Not the best shoot 'em up I've seen, but an imaginative and original offering that looks very appealing and requires some thought as well as joystick skills. Stop

Venus the Flytrap logo Zzap! Sizzler

Gremlin, Amiga £19.99

After Listeria, Mad Cow Disease, Salmonella and Phil's Footy Mad Sheep, those loony farmers have finally caused a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Through overuse of pesticides all the insects have died out! No more nasty bee stings and ants in your pants maybe, but lots of plants will die without insects to pollinate them. So the loony farmers get barking mad John Gummer to call in the mad scientists. The boffins create a race of cybernetic insects, but these promptly eat some food and turn into psychopatic killer! With Richard Attenborough's favourite topic about to disappear - namely Life On Earth - the scientists develop Venus: The Fly Trap. This isn't a toothy green plant, but in fact the ultimate cybernetic insect killer. You have control of mankind's last hope.

The game has 50 horizontally scrolling levels, divided into ten graphically varied worlds. The basic gameplay is familiar enough: walk right and blast everything that moves, but there are plenty of new ideas to set it apart.

The fly has five vitally units and if they're all lost, the insect returns to the start of the level with one less life. The basic weapon can't run out of ammunition, but has limited range. When the psycho insects are shot they leave pods which can be opened with a bullet to provide bonus points, extra time, brief invulnerability, extra ammo, the ability to fly for a while, extra vitality, an extra life and special weapons.

There are five add-on weapons, selected by the function keys, including Big Shot (unlimited range and extra punch), 3-Way-Fire (as it sounds, but with extra punch and ammo hungry). Mortar (even more lethal and travels in a very useful arc), Beam up (hold down fire to build up energy, unlimited range) and 4-Way (limited range, but causes lots of damage and isn't stopped by solid objects).

Providing targets for the firepower are crawlers such as caterpillars, snails, jellybugs and woodworm. There are also hoppers such as pops and rockets, plus static guns and flyers such as wasps, moths and flies. All these come in various sizes, and are supported by Boss Enemies such as a giant firepod and giant caterpillar.

Most of the creepies can happily crawl on the ceiling, as can the Venus Flytrap if you step on a special floor pad to boost it upwards and flip it over. There are also pads for continuous leaps, draining time and preventing jumping! In addition you can look out for 20 secret rooms.

At the end of each world there's a special bonus section where the Venus flies over the clouds blasting oncoming insect swarms for bonus points without feat of losing a life. A password is also given, so you can restart on the new world when you lose all your lives. You also have up to six continue-plays, but if you use these you can't enter your high score, and there's a two-player mode, with players taking turns to play.

Phil King The distinctive graphic style heralds a game that has a very different feel from most shoot-'em-ups. With the choice of weapons it's almost like a platform version of Cybernoid with the emphasis on tactics rather than super-fast reactions. Knowing when to use special weapons, and conserving your ammo, is essential. The action is set at a more leisurely pace than most shoot-'em-ups, avoiding much initial frustration. That's not to say the game's a pushover though: it's all too easy to get caught out by the floor pads (especially the inverters) and end up falling smack onto an insect's head. Although an experience not to be missed, walking and jumping on the ceiling also proves disorientatingly hazardous. Overall I think the difficulty's set just about right with progressive levels having extra features and tougher enemies as well as different themes backdrops. For sheer insects appeal, Venus is simply out of this world!
Stuart Wynne This is an excellent reworking of the horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up. The graphics are top-notch, from a nicely shaded sky and landscape to imaginative and atmospheric opponents. What can't be shown by screenshots is the superb animation, particular on Venus itself which periodically washes its mandibles and flutters its wings to create an excellent character. Actual gameplay is different enough to be novel and interesting, but nevertheless takes only a few minutes to get you hooked. The range of weapons not only look good, but are vital to making good progress. The game plays very well indeed, perhaps a bit easy - a single go can take a fair while with all the continue-plays - but extremely addictive. There's a very impressive bonus section, with massive insects and huge swirling caterpillars at the end of the section, and secret rooms. All this for just £20 makes Venus very attractive indeed.
Warren Lapworth Assorted aphids have been a real pain in the office during the past two hot months but Venus is one insect that single-handedly compensates for the pesky little things. Although it's based upon simple jump-and-shot gameplay, there's much, much more on offer than one first imagines. Simply getting used to the robo-insect's jumps is a highly amusing pastime in itself, their height, length and directability (particularly when launched from a hyperjump tile) - making Venus's bounds incredibly versatile. With marauding insects, spikes, sheer drops and - on later worlds - plentiful, deviously arranged tiles, landings are very important so jumps have to be quickly mastered, as well as a fast trigger finger.
Backgrounds are nothing to write home but sprites are excellent, colourful, well animated and packed full of detail. Venus himself is superb, one of my favourite sprites ever. Brilliantly designed and constantly active, he taps his feet, flutters his wings and wipes his face, and his distinctive walking motion is great. Some of his adversaries are almost as good, beetles' legs moving realistically and snails bustling along in an amusing manner.
Disorientating ceiling-walking (someone been playing Minter's Ancipital?), secret rooms, bonus shoot-'em-up levels and high presentation all go to make Venus The Flytrap a very full, busy product, as well as a highly addictive one. It's already one of my all-time favourite Amiga games - you'd be a fool to miss it.