Nebulus (Hewson Consultants) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing

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Nebulus
By Hewson Consultants
Amiga 500

 
Published in Computer & Video Games #85

Nebulus

Isn't it strange how a simple computer game can evoke such emotions. Take Nebulus for example. Since I started playing it a couple of hours ago, I've broken a joystick, screamed colourful metaphors at the computer and made a large dent in the filing cabinet. And still I keep going back to it.

The 8-bit versions of Nebulus had similar effects when they were released towards the end of last year, but now it has been released in 16-bit form, complete with vastly improved graphics, better sound and sixteen towers - the original eight that appeared in the first versions, and eight new and even more torturous ones!

For those who missed out, and you really did miss out, Nebulus is a platform game - albeit a strange one. The objective is to guide a little green alien to the top of a series of constructions that tower out of the sea by negotiating the steps that run around the outside of the building.

The action is presented in 3D, with the tower rotating and scrolling vertically to keep the character central to the screen as he moves up and around. The effect is tremendous, as everything moves in full perspective as the tower scrolls.

The route to the top of a tower is a very precarious one, and every step is fraught with hazards. Not only to some platforms disappear when the alien steps on them, but there are also slippery floors to avoid. Immovable blocks sometimes bar the way, but these are easily destroyed by blowing a bubble at them.

Sometimes gaps in the platforms are encountered, but can usually be crossed by leaping the chasm, and there are also doors which are entered to take the alien to the other side of the tower - although these occasionally lead to danger.

Robotic guards are in abundance and follow set patterns. Some move up and down, while others circle the tower. Flying objects emerge from the sides of the screen and travel across the playing area, and bouncing balls occasionally appear, although these are disposed of with a well-aimed bubble.

Just to make matters worse, each tower is played under a strict time limit, and if this expires before the alien enters the door at the top of the tower, another life is lost.

If the door is entered, the tower is razed to the ground and the alien makes his way to the next one by means of a bonus screen where a mini-submarine is driven under the horizontally scrolling sea. Fish drift on from the right and are shot and collected to amass extra time for the forthcoming level - which comes in very useful.

Nebulus is simply brilliant. Its crystal clear objectives and unpretentious gameplay conspire to provide one of the most playable and challenging programs around. The balance between frustration and addiction is perfect, allowing you to progress a little further with every game.

Supporting the gameplay are some tremendous graphics. The use of colour is superb - I've never seen so many colours on-screen at the same time, and the sprites are excellent.

There are some unusual sampled sitar sounds heralding the beginning of a screen and the end of a game, and the sound effects are pretty good. The title screen music is also good, with the Amiga version having the edge over the slightly tinny ST tune.

Whether you're an ST or Amiga version, don't let this classic escape you.

Julian Rignall

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