Nebulus (Hewson/Gremlin) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action


Nebulus
By Hewson Consultants
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #33

Mastergame

Nebulus

Some nasty horrible people have been building huge towers in the sea of the planet Nebulus. You've been volunteered to go and demolish the towers because they spoil the view. Not surprisingly the occupants object strongly to you bringing their new homes crashing down into the sea, so resistance to your mission is inevitable. To Nebulus you go, complete with the Mk 7 mini-sub.

The screen shows a side-on view of the tower that you are to demolish with you, the little green Pogo, in the centre of the screen. At the top of the screen is a status panel that informs you of how many lives you have, your score and the amount of time that you have left to complete the tower.

To demolish a tower, you need to climb to the top and enter the last door. Sounds simple enough, but what I've neglected to mention is the way that you have to reach the top. Climbing up the tower involves you walking, jumping and falling from one place to another. As you move left or right the tower rotates smoothly behind, you leaving you stationary in the centre of the screen. If you go up or down then the tower scrolls in the appropriate direction to give the impression of ascent or descent.

To aid, or hinder, you in your climb there are several different kinds of ledge that you can step on. They are: normal ledges, disintegrating ledges and slippery ledges. Normal ledges are the nice kind of reliable block that will stay there and do nothing other than support you. Disintegrating ledges on the other hand disappear as soon as you step on them. Slippery ledges force you to move left or right, depending on the particular ledge. All of the three previous ledges look identical.

There are also doorways into the tower and lifts. Lifts are used to rapidly move you up or down the tower and doorways take you through to the other side of the building - but you won't be able to see what awaits you there. The ledges are often linked into staircase-like structures to aid your ascent. There are also some little flashing blocks that stop you from going in certain places and stop some of the lifts from working. The blocks can be removed by hurling a snowball at them.

The inhabitants of the tower come in four main types: killable, stunable, indestructible and homers. The killable aliens are red ball-like objects that bounce around the tower; a well-placed snowball will dispatch them. The black balls can be stunned with a snowball, but they still push you if you bump into them while they're stunned. The indestructible aliens vary from tower to tower, but they all have to be avoided. The homers are red aliens that appear periodically from either side of the screen. They come on at the same level as you are on the tower and travel straight across to the other side. They can't be killed and so you have to change level before it reaches you, or you can go through a door to avoid it.

If you collide with an alien then you get pushed off the ledge. If you just fall onto another ledge then all you lose is time in climbing back up again, but if you fall into the sea you lose a life because the one thing you can't do is swim - although you do sink with exceptional style.

When you finally reach the top of the tower you get a bonus according to how stylishly and quickly you completed the tower and you get to see the tower fall into the sea. I hope the fish don't mind all the rubble! It's off to the next tower then and you won't be in the least bit surprised to find that things start to get more difficult. There's only one small criticism I have, that the sequence where you are awarded bonus points after destroying a tower is slow and boring to watch.

Pogo is a cute and beautifully animated little green monster and the rest of sprites are done excellently too. The rotation of the tower is done very smoothly and so is the vertical scrolling. A pleasant tune plays throughout the game and the sound effects are of a similar high standard. Sound and/or music can be switched off if you want to.

The concept is very simple, it's still basically only a platform game, but the frustration element of the multitude of puzzles keeps you interested. Some of the puzzles are really difficult to accomplish, they're not impossible, but they do take a lot of practice. This is the most original and playable platform game for a long time. It's bound to provide immense enjoyment and challenge.

Second Opinion

It's not often that someone comes up with an original concept for a game but a platform game set on revolving towers fits the bill wonderfully. The puzzles and traps that lie in wait have been constructed to test the player's mind and reflexes. There are lateral thinking problems where you don't have to do anything but allow one of the aliens to do something to you - I won't reveal more than that. Such devious problems make this stand out from the crowd - the design, programming and gameplay are all of outstandingly high quality.

First Day Target Score

Complete three towers.

Green Screen View

The only problems that you'll have in green is of the mental variety; the game is just as easy to play as it is in colour.

Verdict

Graphics 92%
P. Smooth rotation of the tower.
P. Colourful and well animated sprites.

Sonics 76%
P. Above average tune plays throughout the game.
P. Lots of cute sound effects too.

Grab Factor 94%
P. You'll be hooked within seconds of starting to play.
N. Frustratingly addictive action.

Staying Power 90%
P. Lots of towers to demolish.
P. Problems get progressively more difficult.

Overall 93%
P. Hewson have done it again, with a game of problem solving and fiendish action to keep you playing for months.

GBH