Jug is a scrolling shoot 'em up released by one of my favourite companies, Microdeal. Set in the distant future, we are tasked to save Spiraeus, a living planet, suffering a nasty tumour, which we urgently need to eliminate. However, its autoimmune system sees you as a threat and decides to unleash its defences intent on your demise! Great...
Programmed by Paul Hunter, of Armour-Geddon fame, it's obvious this isn't a lazy conversion and certainly pushes our old STFM to the limit. Playing Jug is a strange and frantic affair, it combines elements of various games like Blood Money, Custodian, Droid, Return To Genesis, and perhaps even Menace. Your ship moves left or right and it has the ability to fly but this is affected by gravity, similar to Alien World, and also requires fuel top-ups. The controls work well but movements are a little slow thus making it difficult avoiding the nasties, without losing precious energy.
The action is relentless with lots of baddies constantly zipping across your screen in various attack waves. However, they aren't the brightest characters and seem to blindly move and shoot with little AI to offer us a legit challenge - it's almost like they aren't even aware of our presence... Weaponry is an upgradeable mixed-bag with the plasma gun mounted far too low to be fully effective but temporarily replacing this with a laser cannon is lots of fun.
The best thing about Jug isn't its humorous name (based on our barrel-chested assets) but the visuals which are utterly gorgeous boasting ultra smooth parallax scrolling, a cool metallic palette, and lots of sprites. Martin Kenwright has done another amazing job and you should use a real Atari ST to fully appreciate these graphics breezing across your screen. The theme music is a masterpiece by Paul Shields - so leave the main menu be and enjoy the incredible chiptune! In comparison, the in-game sound effects are totally overshadowed, but they do their job pretty nicely.
Jug has the ingredients to be a brilliant shoot 'em up but incorporates some weird mechanics that hogged my desire to continue playing. I would recommend any of the above-mentioned games along with Uridium, Cybernoid, or Sideways!! Yes, it has left me with mixed feelings but give it a try, however, I'm still on the fence with this one...
- I recorded my daughter playing Jug but she wasn't too impressed and found it confusing.
- 8BitChip have a version that can be installed to your hard drive!
- Flame Of Finland #67 features Jug and is available via the Stonish website.
- The World's Picture Collection #53 (!) also features Jug, again thanks to Stonish.
- Untested by me, but here is an infinite energy / extra lives cheat : press and hold down the ESC key on the title screen and use the mouse to click on the right-hand edge of the picture. This should help the game - enjoy!!