Amnios logo

A slimy creature is threatening to take over the galaxy. Can you beat it into submission in your lonely space craft? Or will you just get involved in yet another scrolling shoot-em-up?

What kind of game shall we together this time? How about a shoot-em-up? Yeah, all right. What about the graphics? We could do that horrible, slimy, genetic look. All right then. Now, we need a plot to cover slimy genetic monsters and shoot-em-ups. Aha...

Deep in the heart of Galactic Centre, a strange organism is lurking, it's a strange genetic form feeding on the energy of the starts. Its name is Oncabloc.

Meanwhile, the Sapien inhabitants of the planet Terra have been spreading across the galaxy, assimilating the cultures and lifestyles of various planets into their own to form a galaxy-wide cross-cultural species. As their explorations took them to new parts of the system, they eventually penetrated the dust clouds of Galactic Centre.

Unfortunately Oncabloc was waiting. It had been watching the spread of the Sapien Empire and wished to absorb it into itself, harnessing the power of all the included species to become the most powerful organism in creation.

Its ambition was realised all too late by the Sapiens, resulting in the most horrific and blood-thirsty attack ever seen in the Homegalaxy. It was decided that this would never be allowed to happen again, so the Elder Minds experimented with genetic weaponry to produce Amnios.

Genetic engineering
Amnios is a symbiotic structure combining state-of-the-art artificial intelligence computers and living genetic material. This, in effect, allows the engineers to build a 'living' spacecraft, which can be controlled by - and respond to - the mind and nervous system of a specially adapted pilot. A few brave volunteers stepped forward to take part in the Amnios project, they underwent mutations and intensive training to allow them to fly the experimental craft.

Eventually, it was decided that the Amnios project was perfected enough to launch an attack on the Oncabloc. The tiny ships were the only remaining hope of the Sentient galaxy. And so they were launched, along with a handful of 'Fatherships' to allow the rescue of humanoids captured by Oncabloc, and also to build weapons from genetic material taken from the cancerous being.

The fighters must either remove the humanoids from the organism, allowing the base ships to nuke the mothers into oblivion or destroy enough of Oncabloc's living tissue to make it shut down.

As a last ditch attempt to protect itself, each portion of Oncabloc launches a twisted guardian to try and wipe out the Amnios ships. These too must be wiped out before the particular strain can be removed from Glactic centre. Once this has been achieved, the attack team must move onto the next spore, continuing their quest until the hideous culture has been completely eradicated.

What about that for a plot then? Naaah! That's far to pretentious!
You play one of the pilots in the Amnios programme, flying into the Oncabloc to try and wipe out the deadly menace. The levels fall into three categories:
Squama - A scaly being with rocket-firing mouths and orifices.
Foliage - Various types of mutated plants sprout forth to attack your ship.
Epidermis - A large mass of skin and flesh with loads of eyes, mouths and limbs to try and catch you.

The levels are all very similar, reducing the long-term appeal of the game by a substantial amount

Have DNA, will battle
Each level has a number of body parts, including eyes, brains, hearts and other living tissue. Destroying eyes stops Oncabloc from tracking you, while wiping out brains and hearts reduces its ability to defend itself.

If you manage to destroy a large enough percentage of these body parts, or rescue all the humanoids, you must then face the guardian before moving on to the next part of the organism. And... er... that's about it.

What little germs are made of
Amnios is a nice-looking game, if you can call well-drawn and animated hideous genetic mutations nice that is (and you can't - Ed), but that's about where the appeal ends. The control of the Amnios craft itself is very unruly - the momentum and rather-too-wide turning circle make dodging bullets almost impossible, and the only way to restore energy is to try and hover over a Fathership.

This would be all very well if they didn't try and doge you as you approached them! Although the designers have tried to put as much diversity into the game as they possibly can, the end result is just far too confusing to get a proper grip on.

Even when you have figured out, after several hours, what the hell you are meant to be doing. The levels are all incredibly similar, reducing the long-term appeal of the game by a substantial amount.

Shoot-em-ups with genetic-style graphics are pretty old hat these days, but slapping on the most incredibly pretentious plot in place of interesting gameplay just doesn't make for an innovative product.

What's needed is fluid joystick control and some absorbing gameplay, two points which Amnios unfortunately lacks. If the idea behind the various game elements had been properly executed, then Amnios would have been interesting, but they haven't, so it's not.


The Amnios ships have various elements that they must look out for in order to complete their mission. Here are a few of the more important elements:

Snatchers - They guard the Humanoidsand try to stop you from picking them up. Once you have rescued a Humanoid, its snatcher will then hunt you down.

DNA Strands - THese can be deposited on the fathership to produce weapons. The colour of the DNA strand refers to the type of weapon that they can produce.

Humanoids - For the Sentients to launch an all-out attack on the Oncabloc, you must rescue the Humanoids and take them to the Fatherships.

Fatherships - These are the platforms where Humanoids are placed or DNA is turned into weapons. Each Fathership can hold one Humanoid and process one DNA strand at a time. Hovering over a Fathership will help you to replace lost energy.


Amnios logo

Von Psygnosis schon ein ganzes Weilchen nichts mehr zu hören - was sicher s mancher bedauert hat, denn die Jungs fabrizieren ja meist recht ansprechende Games. Doch diesmal hat das Warten nicht genützt, denn hier kommt kein zweites "Lemmings", sondern ein ausgewachsener Flop!

Das Intro bereitet einen schon richtig auf die kommenden Scheußlichkeiten vor: Statt einer filmartigen Einleitungssequenz, wie man sie sonst von den Engländern gewohnt ist, bekommt man bloß ein paar müde Bildchen mit Laufschrift und sparsamsten Animationen geboten...

Was dann folgt, sind zehn Level mit 08/15-Ballerkost, wie man sie bereits tausendmal gesehen hat - meistens sehr viel besser.

Ganz ähnlich wie etwas bei Battlestorm düst man mit einem aus der Vogelperspektive gezeigten Raumschiff über verschiedene Planetenoberflächen, schießt dabei auf alles, was nach Feind aussieht, rettet nebenbei ein paar Humanoide und schlägt sich mit dem üblichen Endgegnern rum.

Freilich, das Game ist nicht nur schlecht (welches Game ist das schon?), es gibt ein wirklich gutes Radar, diverse Waffensorten, ein Paßwort-system, und für sinnloses Herumballern kriegt man sogar Punkte abgezogen!

Der Intro-Soundtrack ist zwar erbärmlich, Musik und Effekte während des Spiels sind hingegen gar nicht mal übel, bloß hat man von all dem halt nicht so viel.

Denn: Das Scrolling ruckelt gar fürchterlich (dabei wären die Grafiken recht hübsch gezeichnet), die Gegner verhalten sich hoffnungslos unfair, und die Steuerung funktioniert sowohl mit Stick als auch per Tastatur einfach besch... eiden.

Sorry Psygnosis, aber Amnios könnt ihr behalten! (mm)

Amnios logo

Psygnosis get back to basics - yes, it's shoot-'em-up time!

On the back of the Amnios box, Psygnosis advise players to forget about the plot. Okay, that's fine by me. Time to get in to some totally unbiased AP reviewing.

The game centres (quite literally) around the player's rotating craft, the ground scrolling while the ship remains in the middle of the screen. The task is a (reasonably) straightforward one - getting just a bit too clever for its own good in the power-ups system. The basic idea is that each (apparently organic) enemy planet visited must have a certain percentage of its vital organs destroyed (eyes, heart, brain etc) by good old laser or special weapons (brain damage power up for the brain, heart attack for the heart - all good tasteful stuff).

These special weapons are obtained by collecting strands of DNA, depositing them in the fathership, waiting for a power-up to be generated, then collecting them again. The colour of the DNA roughly determines the type of power-up created, and there is also a human prisoner or two on each level.

These must be removed their alien guardians taken to the safety of the fathership. The whole task is made more complex by the presence of worm-like nasties, wasps, huge bug-eyed human prison-keepers, and a lot of enemy firepower. Subsequent planets offer various types of fleshy or plant-like surfaces, more fatherships, and a lot more bad guys. See, I told you it was simple.

Sounds original? Well it's not. Williams made a not too dissimilar arcade game back in the early '80s by the name of Sinistar, and Jeff Minter gave us his homage to that classic Defender-esque game in the form of Photon Storm for Arc.

So how does Amnios compare to these two? Well graphically its obviously well out on top. The Williams game is old and therefore the graphics are obviously crude (but nonetheless quite effective). And Photo Storm? Well, Jeff may be good with flashing colours and strobes, but graphics never were his strong point. So, Amnios takes a flying lead. And so we go to the next round - sound FX. Once again Amnios holds its own. Although not particularly memorable, it bleeps and grunts in all the right places, and that almost biological element is carried through to the audio side of things quite nicely. But then we come to that difficult little area - the gameplay.

Amnios has a lot going for it. The inertia on the space ship is just right. The scrolling is beautifully smooth, and the sprites are large and well drawn. The game mechanics are quite effective, with a number of different playing strategies possible, and the long-range scanner proving more than a nice cosmetic touch.

It's just that maybe the programmers have taken things a little too far. All this business about collecting DNA, taking it to mother (sorry, father) ships, and receiving power-ups for it is an interesting update on the simple collect and dump the humanoids idea, but what these added complications and the fact that the nasties are just too large and numerous to avoid properly, the game tends to feel a little overdone for a shoot-'em-up.

When I play a blasting game, I don't really want to worry about collecting this object to generate that object to destroy that bad guy. It all feels a little too convoluted for what ought to be an instantly accessible zapper.

And while I'm at it, those End-Of-Levels Guardians are a bit sad. All they seem to do is float after the player's ship, launching a few streams of firepower and whistling dixie. I'll give 'em a B minus. Must try harder.

Amnios logo CU Amiga Screenstar

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The talents of Pete Lyon, the guy who designed the graphics for Goldrunner and Leatherneck, have finally been spliced into a playable game. Ignoring yet another hackneyed scenario, Amnios is an all-out attack on your shoot-'em-up senses.

Flying a spacecraft which can be rotated and thrusted in every direction, you're on a mission to destroy ten disgusting and deadly living planets. Each world is filled with a host of bio-beings, humanoid hostages, huge end-of-level guardians and a selection of vital organs like brains, hearts and arteries.

Should you try to rescue a given number of humanoids or blast enough of the planet's vital organs to get through to a one-on-one with the big bad boss at the end of the level? Any rash decision could seriously affect chances for further survival and a respectable hi-score.

Your ship stays in the midle of the screen as the whole of the planet zips into view. This can prove tricky when you're trying to capture a humanoid or avoid unwanted collisions.

Snatchers are probably the most annoying enemy you'll come across. These invulnerable creatures guard the humanoids and will carry them away if you take your time during a rescue.

If you take your time during a rescue. If you successfully save anybody, you must take them to the nearest Fathership for safety. While you're there, why not restore your energy? Fatherships are very useful constructions which can also provide you with better weaponry. Just collect a strain of DNA, take it to a Fathership, wait a while, then go back and collect your prize.

Depending on the colour of the DNA, you could get a smart bomb, 20 seconds of shield, increased firepower, and so on.

Fathership can only support one DNA strain or weapon and one humanoid at a time. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

Amnios reminds me of the good old arcade hits of the early eighties. The idea of saving humanoids and the constant use of a scanner is straight out of Defender, while the rotation and thrust of your spacecraft is very reminiscent of Asteroids. Of course, neither of these two classics had the gorgeous graphics, smooth scrolling or abnormal SFX of Amnios. They didn't move as fast as this baby, either.

Programmer Paul Frewin has managed to squeeze some smart eight-way scrolling and exceptionally big boss sprites out of the Amiga for the occasion. Pete Lyon's beautiful bio-organic backdrops have to be seen to be believed and really give the whole affair a touch of class.

Make no mistake, the speed of the game can give you whiplash. Although you are able to use a joystick or mouse, it makes a refreshing change to go back to the keyboard... and actually enjoy the experience. A redefinable key option is about the only thing missing in this release. A little expensive for what it actually delivers, Amnios is still an incredibly playable shoot 'em up.