Romulus (Quicksilva) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Romulus
By Quicksilva
Commodore 64

 
Published in Zzap #26

Romulus

The logs Transputer company are having problems: intelligent bugs are appearing in their mega-chips and rendering them useless. The thankless task of debugging has fallen on your shoulders...

Seated at the controls of your Vector Module, armed only with the new high-velocity FG9's (the old FG-series never was any good), you venture forth into the substrate of the transputer chip.

The main channel is displayed as a variable speed, two-way horizontally scrolling backdrop, with the module manoeuvred by use of the joystick. Initially, the circuits controlling this circuit are unstable and randomly changing. One click of the Fire button stablises them and sets the channel characteristics, effectively controlling the speed and inertia of your ship.

Once inside the channel, bugs are destroyed by a swift blast and points are accumulated accordingly. Reaching a total of 100,000 heralds the appearance of the Alien Miner, the interception and destruction of which rewards you with another module.

At the end of the channel you have the opportunity to enter the 'transition stage', which takes the form of three sub-games, each accessible from a menu sheet.

The first stage is available on destruction of the first Alien Miner, presenting a series of colours and tones which must be remembered and repeated back in their original sequence.

The second stage displays three pairs of boxes, the lower boxes containing a moving, coloured pattern. This section is successfully completed by quickly matching the patterns and colours of the upper three with their lower counterparts.

The final stage presents two rows of nodes, six of which must be connected to their opposing number with a 'pile'. This is accomplished by positioning your module beneath a node and shooting it once. A coloured connection then appears, which can be similarly removed by another shot. You compete against a computer-controller module in a race to connect a row of six before your opponent. Shooting a small box to the right of the array halts a timer, and thus the transition.

Successfully completing the three sub-games returns you to a different substrate channel within the transputer chip.

JR

The gameplay is far too simple, allowing huge scores to be amassed without much practice. Confusing and tastelessly coloured backdrops make it virtually impossible to see what's going on - although this doesn't really matter, as the insipid enemy offer no real threat.

Your sprite is unwieldy and responds sluggishly to joystick control. Even so, all you have to do is zoom along at top speed and fire occasionally. The sub-games are simple, offering little in the way of variety and challenge.

There's also very little addiction or reward on offer, and boredom sets in extremely quickly. Those are some of the reasons why you shouldn't buy Romulus.

PE

Take one fast scrolling routine, lots of pretty (but horrendously clashing) colours, squeaky sounds, pointless puzzles, and stick 'em together... what have you got?

A real mess that Quicksilva have lumbered themselves with. At a glance it looks like you're in for an all-action shoot-'em-up - but when I started playing I found very little to shoot and hardly anything wanted to shoot me.

Give it a miss.

SJ

There are plenty of ideas whirling around inside Romulus - it's a pity that none of them are original. The three 'transition stages' borrow heavily from concepts in Batalyx, Paradroid and Impossible Mission, so there's nothing new there.

The scrolling shoot-'em-up is hard on the eyes, being rather garish and making the sub-games a welcome relief from the visual onslaught. Although moderately entertaining for a while, Romulus tends to pall rather quickly and becomes a real drag after only a few goes.

Verdict

Presentation 47%
Unhelpful instructions which fail to clearly convey your objectives. Good set of options however.

Graphics 36%
Colourful but not particularly effective.

Sound 41%
Bland and highly derivative spot effects.

Hookability 41%
Initially confusing, and not exactly gripping.

Lastability 21%
Nothing there to lure you back, even after the first attempt.

Value For Money 22%
There are many better games of this type available for far less.

Overall 27%
A badly designed and unaddictive shoot-'em-up.