Venus The Flytrap

Publisher: Gremlin
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #66

Venus The Flytrap

After Listeria, Mad Cow Disease, Salmonella and Phil's Footy Mad Sheep, those loony farmers have finally caused a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Through overuse of pesticides, all the insects have died out! No more nasty bee stings and ants in your pants maybe, but lots of plants will die without insects to pollinate them. So the loony farmers get barking mad John Gummer to call in the mad scientists.

The boffins create a race of cybernetic insects, but these promptly eat some food and turn into psychopathic killers! With Richard Attenborough's favourite topic about to disappear - namely Life On Earth - the scientists develop Venus: The Fly Trap. This isn't a toothy green plant, but in fact the ultimate cybernetic insect killer. You have control of mankind's last hope...

The game has 50 horizontally scrolling levels, divided into ten graphically varied worlds. The basic gameplay is familiar enough: walk right and blast everything that moves, but there are plenty of new ideas to set it apart.

Venus The Flytrap

The fly has five vitality units and, if they're all lost, the insect returns to the start of the level with one less life. The basic weapon can't run out of ammunition, but has limited range. When the psycho insects are shot, they leave pods which can be opened with a bullet to provide bonus points, extra time, brief invulnerability, extra ammo, the ability to fly for a while, extra vitality, an extra life and special weapons. There are five add-on weapons, selected by the function keys, including Big Shot (unlimited range and extra punch), 3-Way Fire (as it sounds, but with extra punch and ammo hungry), Mortar (even more lethal and travels in a very useful arc), Beam Up (hold down fire to build up energy, unlimited range) and 4-Way (limited range) and 4-Way (limited range, but causes lots of damage and isn't stopped by solid objects).

Providing targets for the firepower are crawlers such as caterpillars, snails, jellybugs and woodworm. There are also hoopers such as pops and rockets, plus static guns and flyers such as wasps, moths and flies. All these come in various sizes, and are supported by Boss Enemies such as a giant firepod and giant caterpillar.

Most of the creepies can happily crawl on the ceiling, as can the Venus Flytrap if you step on a special floor pad to boost it upwards and flip it over. There are also pads for continuous leaps, draining time and preventing jumping! In addition, you can look out for twenty secret rooms.

Venus The Flytrap

At the end of each world there's a special bonus section where the Venus flies over the clouds, blasting oncoming insect swarms for bonus points without fear of losing a life. A password is also given, so you can restart on the new world when you lose all your lives. You also have up to six continue-plays, but if you use these you can't enter your high score, and there's a two-player mode with players taking turns to play.


The distinctive, graphic style heralds a game that has a very different feel from most shoot-'em-ups.

With the choice of weapons, it's almost like a platform version of Cybernoid with the emphasis on tactics rather than super-fast reactions.

Venus The Flytrap

Knowing when to use special weapons, and conserving your ammo, is essential. The action is set at a more leisurely pace than most shoot-'em-ups, avoiding much initial frustration.

That's not to say the game's a pushover though: it's all too easy to get caught out by the floor pads (especially the inverters) and end up falling smack onto an insect's head!

Although an experience not to be missed, walking and jumping on the ceiling also proves disorientatingly hazardous. Overall, I think the difficulty's set just about right with progressive levels having extra features and tougher enemies as well as different themed backdrops. For sheer insects appeal, Venus is simply out of this world!


Venus The Flytrap

Assorted aphids have been a real pain in the office during the past two hot months, but Venus is one insect that single-handedly compensates for the pesky little things. Although it's based upon simple jump-and-shoot gameplay, there's much, much more on offer than one first imagines.

Simply getting used to the robo-insect's jumps is a highly amusing pastime in itself; their height, length and directability (particularly when launched from a hyperjump tile) making Venus's bounds incredibly versatile. With marauding insects, spikes, sheer drops and - on later worlds - plentiful, deviously arranged tiles, landings are very important so jumps have to be quickly mastered as well as a fast trigger finger.

Backgrounds are nothing to write home about, but sprites are excellent, colourful, well animated and packed full of detail. Venus himself is superb, one of my favourite sprites ever. Brilliantly designed and constantly active, he tapes his feet, flutters his wings and wipes his face, and his distinctive walking motion is great. Some of his adversaries are almost as good, beetls' legs moving realistically and nail bustling along in an amusing manner.

Venus The Flytrap

Disrientating ceiling-walking (someone been playing Minter's Ancipital?), secret rooms, bonus shoot-'em-up levels and high presentation all go to make Venus The Flytrap a very full, busy produce, as well as a highly addictive one. It's relady one of my all-time favourite Amiga games - you'd be a fool to miss it.


This is an excellent reworking of the horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up. The graphics are top notch, from a nicely shaded sky and landscape to imaginative and atmospheric opponents. What can't be shown by screenshots is the superb animation, particularly on Venus itself which periodically washes its mandibles and flutters its wings to create an excellent character.

Actual gameplay is different enough to be novel and interesting, but nevertheless takes only a few minutes to get you hooked. The range of weapons not only look good, but are vital to making good progress. The game plays very well indeed, perhaps a bit easy - a single go can take a fair while with all the continue-plays - but it's extremely addictive. There's a very impressive bonus section, with massive insects and huge swirling caterpillars at the end of the section, and secret rooms. All this for just £20 makes Venus very attractive indeed.


Venus The Flytrap

Presentation 93% Nice intro sequence, six continue-plays, secret rooms, vital password system, reasonable disk accessing usually - although it can be a pain in two-player mode.

Graphics 92% Ten world provide plenty of creepy-crawly variety, including a very nice bonus game with huge aliens. Venus itself is excellently animated.

Sound 82% Lovely, ambient soundtrack plays along without intruding or irritating. Good spot FX.

Venus The Flytrap

Hookability 92% Very easy to get into, as hookable as you'd expect of an imaginative shoot-'em-up.

Lastability 90% Fifty levels and ten worlds provide a massive challenge, although password system and easy early levels mean anyone can get quite far.

Overall 90% The bee's knees of shoot-'em-ups.