Saturday, January 14, 2017


Pogo the frog? This is gonna suck...

Nebulus was released in 1988 by one of my favourite gaming companies, Hewson and features an armed frog with big eyes called Pogo who isn't too happy by the thought of eight large sea-based towers and decides they need climbing and blowing up! Essentially, this is a platformer with some interesting pseudo-3D mechanics that provide a pretty unique visual style within an ingenious design. This is class programming.

The world certainly revolves around little Pogo. During gameplay, he always remains at the centre of the screen with horizontal movements causing the screen to scroll in a "three-dimensional" circular motion, thus turning the tower around. All are cylindrical with several platforms dotted all around the outside and nifty tunnels which offer a great way to quickly access the opposite side whenever your current pathway is a dead end.

Talk about going the extra mile and NOT sticking to 16-colours! Absolutely superb.

Frogs love water, right?

Getting to the top of any tower isn't easy thanks to a barrage of unusual nasties to either shoot or avoid - and one that flies by to conveniently get in your way. Access to the top will involve careful strategy because your route is broken thus forcing you to use opposite sides of the tower depending on where you are. Always consider the option of using these tunnels to quickly nip through, they might come in handy to avoid those flying obstacles!!

Nebulus may sound easy but it's actually very challenging and a brisk time limit allows little room for error. Bumping into an enemy will drop you down to the previous ledge, which is fantastic because that doesn't necessarily mean a frustrating loss of life, nor will it impede your momentum as you pick yourself up to try that part of the tower all over again. However, if there isn't a ledge to land on, then you might fall even further down thus requiring lots of hefty backtracking, which could prove too much if little time remains. Ohh, the pressure!!

Falling further still (and into the water) is strangely fatal for this froggy who is the only frog ever to have existed that can't handle it - so he loses a life! Also interesting is a bonus game featured in-between the levels - this has Pogo travelling to his next tower via a nice horizontal scroller. It's a shooter featuring lots of Psygnosis-busting smooth parallax scrolling and should have been longer because I really enjoyed it a bunch.

Another level and another tower to climb. This looks too easy, right?

16-Bit Sexy Appeal!!

Throughout our adventure, the visuals are utterly tremendous. Nebulus is programmed by legend, John M Phillips, who also helped treat us to a colourful display of great artwork and ultra-smooth framerates. It's amazing just what the Atari ST could crank out - when programmed by somebody with talent and commitment.

The audio is equally impressive with gorgeous sound effects, some of the best samples, and a beautifully unique chiptune. In fact, I can leave that running all day long... it's beautiful. Gorgeous audio!

Okay, ignore my jerky capture because this part scrolls superbly and is great fun!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Nebulus can feel a little finicky with a learning curve much steeper than you expect. But, with lots of practice, I guarantee hours of addictive gaming because Nebulus is a real firecracker and I love how it integrates both arcade action and strategical thinking with a fascinating visual style. I think in many respects it's ahead of its time.

Nebulus is a tough, but wonderful shoot 'em up and is pure JMP magic. An icon of the 16-bit era.

Floppies are available on Stonish
and 8BitChip has a hard drive game!

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