LONG, long ago, in a place where a cloudy planet always hung above the north, the ancients played with thought worlds. Together the power of their minds created a hundred planets, each an archipelago, where they met, relaxed and drank tea.
Their thoughts were so strong that the places became real. When they slept, they found the morphogenic patterns of their thoughts remained to generate, almost randomly, thousands more worlds.
Then the ancients turned their minds to another place. They contemplated the cloudy planet in the north and imagined seas, then inhabitants, and finally whole civilisations. In time this place also became real - so real that one day visitors came from it.
The visitors liked Archipelagos. They had found 10,000 paradises. Pretty soon they staked their claim on every archipelago by placing an obelisk of immutable granite, each a sentinel of their power. The ancients tried to de-imagine their visitors, but it was too late - the obelisks were in place.
The very idea of de-imagination made the visitors mad. They decided the ancients would have to go.
Early one morning, as the multi
And all the life in Archipelagos was left perverted. Where clumps of gladioli once bloomed, eggs now awaited the elemental spark of thunder - erm, shouldn't that be lightning, Herbie? - to spread poison. Where birds once sang, necromancers now inexorably ate the very fabric of Archipelagos. The visitors have long since gone, but their work remains. Until now...
This is where you come in, floating, as if disembodied, a metre above the ground. You're here to destroy the obelisk in each archipelago.
Remember, the obelisk gets its power from the stones, the petrified remains of the ancients, so to destroy it you first have to crumble the stones and absorb their energy. This you do by placing a cross-hair cursor on to the same square of land as the stone and pressing the action button.
In each Archipelago there are a number of stones to crumble. Some are on islands separated from the obelisk by a calm sea. Before you can absorb their energy, you must join them by a continuous but not necessarily straight path to the obelisk. Sometimes it's just a matter of three or four wedges of turf, other times you will need to build vast land bridges from island to island.
Once all the stones in an archipelagos are crumbled you have 90 seconds to return to the obelisk and destroy it. If you don't, it will get you.
Despite what you may have read elsewhere about Archipelagos, you cannot choose which level to start on - you start on level one and must work your way through to level 9,999. There is no save game option and you only have one life. Sounds an impossible task, and it is. Let's hope Logotron leaks a cheat mode real early.
Various bits and pieces are out to hinder your progress. As mentioned in the story, ancients who have awoken from their sleep drift about the islands in the form of marvellously animated lost souls. A wonderful sound effect, something akin to a depressed wasp, accompanies their travels. Let one of these stumble into you and you'll get to meet Marvin Gaye. And you can't get more lost soul than that.
Necromancers rise from the ground and wander along the shore of islands, devouring the land. When the sky grows dark and there is a mighty clap of thunder and a flash lightning, a Blood Egg is ready to hatch. These peeling, spinning beauties either spread poison like arboreal trees or eat land like necromancers.
You can use the power you suck from the stones to build or disinfect land. Arboreal tree pods, if nipped in the bud, also build up your power. You're going to need it.
Every fifth archipelago in the first 100 is bitmapped. There are some great maps there - Europe, the Americas, the Logotron turtle, I won't spoil the fun by listing them. All the rest are computer generated, but the deeper you get into the game, the bigger and more complicated each archipelago gets, and the longer it takes to calculate.
Quick, smooth, colourful animation apart, the graphics Logotron has added especially for this Amiga version give it that touch of class you don't see on the, erm, other thing: A day and night cycle, lightning striking when thunder claps, bark on the arboreal trees and a correctly shaded horizon, giving it that realistic hazy look of the seaside.
The music and sound effects, some of which are unique to the Amiga, are by David Whittaker. Need I say more? Course not.
BUt with the lack of a save option, Archipelagos falls down ever so slightly on the gameplay stakes. Nobody in their right mind is going to play this one from beginning to end.
After two weeks of regularly dying on level 35 - and it'll take a couple of hours to get that far - you could be forgiven if you were sick to death of the first 34. Bet it won't stop you having another go though.