Longer in production than they were in evolution - finally...

The Humans 1 logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

MIRAGE * £29.99 * 512k * Joystick/keyboard * Out now

Just in the few short months during which it has been my humble privilege to serve the mighty Gamer, barely a couple days have gone by without some desperate sould dragging him or herself over to the damp and rancid corner in which my Victorian schooldesk nestles lopsidedly, and asking - imploring - open mouthed and eyes agog, as to whether Humans had yet arrived.

I'm not a sick man by any stretch of the imagination (our survey disagrees - Ed) but I have to admit to feeling a dark satisfaction as the look of anguish and emptiness that sank deep into their faces as I pressed my lips together and glumly shook my head.

Frankly, I couldn't understand why these people were getting their undergarments in such a twist - we've got literally cupboards full of games to while away those dull lunchtimes. And Friday afternoons. And Monday mornings.

Then I saw a demo version and the scales were lifted from my eyes: I became one of those sad people, carrying out my duties with a heavy heart and tortured soul - knowing that my life would be incomplete until the day of arrival, er... arrived.
That day is now here, so with never ends a-tingling and eyes lifted gratefully to the heavens, let us without further ado boot up our collective Amiga and see if it's all been worth the wait.

Humans is an 80 level puzzly platform affair along the lines - dare I say it - Lemmings. You control a small tribe of some of the very first human inhabitants on our planet, and the idea is very simple - you have to evolve.

Easy enough to do when you have a good few million years to spare - simply exist and produce a few babies and the job's a good 'un, but it's a bit more tricky than that when you work all day and have to do the evolving at night on a computer. Beginning with just a few paltry pot-bellied moronic cavemen, you must help them to complete certain tasks before moving on to the next level.

Many of the tasks simply involve moving your tribe to a different section of the screen. Sound easy? Don't you believe it - remember this is 20 trillion or so BC and there isn't exactly a lot of help available in the form of implements and the like.

You see, it's all very well if one happens to be, say, that Super Mario chap; any problems he comes across can usually be solved by finding a magic laser gun or some such nonsense, but the time in which Humans is set is just a little bit before laser guns and hoverbikes are invented.

Puzzles are solved by using whatever you happen to 'discover'. For example, the first discovery you are likely to make will be a spear. This is very handy indeed for stabbing things, but could it have more uses do you think? Well you'll have to find out - that's the idea, see!

Once you are in possession of any item, it will stay with you throughout the whole game: you collection of discoveries will grow as you progress - each one is needed to solve the levels you reach after finding it. Geddit?

You will begin the game with only four humans in your tribe. The sprites themselves are very small but brilliantly detailed with pot bellies, flyaway hairstyles, a big nose and a great expression of perpetual surprise.

Obviously only one human at once can be controlled, requiring much toggling of the cursor keys in order to shift all the little chaps to their destination. This can be a bit of a pain, but is offset by the multidirectional scrolling as different humans are located on screen.

More tribe members can be added by rescuing fellow cave dwellers who have become trapped in many of the levels; in some cases the actual rescue completes the mission on that particular level, in others you may still have a destination to reach. Once you have begun to make some headway and the size of your tribe increases, it isn't necessary to use all the humans to complete a task. Good job too, since there are any number of ways of dying, and you'll find you need plenty of reserves to keep going.

There is always the danger that your tribe will become extinct. This happens when you don't have enough humans to complete a certain level, and therefore cannot progress any further.
Hurrah and huzzah for the trusty old password system is what I say - you will be kindly provided with a password after every level which is invaluable if you are to refrain for any length of time from hurtling your hardware through the window.

One of the features that I was most impressed with is the many different ways in which your tribe can utilise their discoveries. By clicking on the icons at the bottom of the playscreen you will find that, among other things, they can throw, jump, climb, ride (!), push, carry and kill.

The latter of these attributes is very important, as you will find yourself battling against and dodging all manner of strange and hostile creatures. Other tribes exit, and from time to time one of their members may decided that his family deserve something a little more than dinosaur steak for tea - something a little more tender, if you're getting my drift.

Speaking of dinosaurs, keep your eyes open for any you might encounter - it's worth sacrificing one of your tribe members just to hear the hilarious gobbing sounds it makes as he is devoured piece by piece.

Looks like it's time to sum things up then; lets talk about the graphics first - they're brilliant. One thing I haven't mentioned so far is that the game is spread not only over 80 screens but also in six different scenarios - cave, desert, summer, winter, forest and swamp, in which the details are brilliant.

As if all this wasn't enough, whenever your tribe completes a particularly important task you are rewarded with a funny little animated sequence. The only drawback to this is that it involves a lot of diskswapping: best idea is to see these a couple of times and then turn the animation off. (Another little option from your kindly chums at Mirage).

You are given the choice of music or FX. The music comes in the form of numerous jaunty/jolly tunes that I think make the game more fun. All the FX are clear and funny, but a good few more would have been very welcome. As for the game itself, I can't say enough about it. The humour, easiness to play and progressive difficulty of the puzzles should appeal to fans of just about every genre - even the strategists among you who may be happy for a welcome break from the norm.

Buy it soon, and if you're not happy send me a cyanide Mars Bar through the post.

The Humans 1 logo

Oh yes, it's another game in the Lemmings vein. The Humans are hoping to evolve into a truly addictive puzzle game like their predecessors, just in time for the Christmas rush. Can they knock Psygnosis' lot off the top spot (or cliff) though?

It's very rare these days that a brand new type of game arrives on the gaming scene; something that is totally original. Most games fit into an already well-established genre, and usually within it you have one game that has set the standard and stands out from the rest of the gang.

For footie games see Kick Off 2 (though our Nutts would probably say Sensible Soccer), cute platform games see Rainbow Islands, god sims - Populous 2, graphic adventures - Monkey Island 2 and of course cute puzzle games - Lemmings (not having seen a copy of the sequel).

The Humans fits snugly into the last category, and you can bet your bottom dollar, nickel or cent that every review will compare this game with what many regard as one of the greatest computer games ever (yours truly included). But is it any good? And is it as good as Lemmings?

Well, first major whinge of the game is the frightfully dreadful loading system - I mean we're talking painful city here. They have managed to crunch this disk down on to only three disks! And luckily it doesn't recognise second disk drives, don't you just love games like this? But of course that doesn't mean the game's no good.

You're sent back to prehistoric times and, yes, dinosaurs and cavemen (the eponymous homo sapiens) roam the Earth simultaneously (we all know this isn't historically true - but, hey, this is a computer game).

Your task with your cute little tribe is to guide said primitives through various stages of evolution (levels, to me and you) discovering various human... er... discoveries to help you along the way; the spear, the wheel, fire and the rope. These are some of your tools to help the Humans escape from one level to another.

The implement you seem to use most, though, is the spear, which with a rather complex combination of keyboard and joystick, is used to hurl your Human from platform to platform to reach the exit point of each level. Compared to the fluid mouse movements a la Lemmings, using your spear does become rather tiresome at times.

Ride a white swan
The main obstructions that you'll meet along the way are bushes (which need burning down with fire) and stone builders (strategically placed Humans will remove them in a Scooby Doo secret-passage-type fashion).

Spears can be used not only for leaping across chasms, but also for killing unfriendly T-Rexes, but beware because sometimes your spear is useless and you get eaten: though it's worth expending the odd Human because of the rather excellent sampled roar.

When you discover the wheel (that is, find one lying around that someone else has already invented) you also find an alternative in the spear for jumping from one platform to another. Wheels can be either ridden or rolled (which enables you to pass them back to your peers).

Also if you whizz past other Humes while riding on top of a wheel and crush their big toes, they will hop on one foot nursing bruised and rather red toes. Nice little touches like this, though, are rather few. There are certainly none early on enough to endear you to the game and your fellow Humans.

Rewards? Well, as you progress intermittently you will be rewarded with various comic Human animations, the in-game animation is quite good and the game scrolls smoothly along, and the screen shakes authentically when you jump down off a platform. The little fellows are not particularly cute though (give me a Barney and Fred any day) and on some of the levels they blend in so chameleon-like with the backdrops you almost lose sight of them.

Hit or miss?
So is it any good or what? Well it's not bad. Although at first you will be put off by the tiresome loading, but once you've played through the first half-a-dozen levels the game does hook you in; there's a great satisfaction-factor once you've sussed how to complete a level, and in trying to do it in the recommended time.

The controls can be cumbersome and this becomes especially annoying when you're tight for time and you have to have your jumps pixel perfect to make a successful jump.

Mirage have certainly come up with a fun theme for a game in this genre, but some of the early levels can be incredibly frustrating, and if you haven't got a level code you're going to be wanting to do some rather inhuman things to the game's programmers.

If you are a fan of this genre, though, then you'll probably enjoy Humans. It's nothing new, but with 80 different levels and stages of evolution to get through you'll probably have a yabba-dabba-doo time, a yab-a-doo time, you'll have a gay old time.

The Humans 1
  1. This is where you've got to get your little human to on each level.
  2. Any stranded little bleaters like this fellow have got to be rescued. If they're being guarded by an evil-looking bod you will have to use your spear.
  3. If you come across that great invention, the wheel, then hop on board and you'll soon be flying across the screen and any large gap that needs vaulting.
  4. This guy patrols the end of the level. He's easy enough to spear. But beware because sometimes they don't simply roll over and die.
  5. This tells you which little dude you're in control of. To swap between them simply use the cursor keys.
  6. You'll have to throw back the spear to your comrades, but watch out that you don't spear them by mistake.

The Humans 1 SPEAR: these are multi-functional, and it's always a good idea to take a handy spear along wherever you go on most of the levels. You can use them to leap across craters and platforms, or you can use it in a more conventional way to kill the odd Dino who's running around flashing his gnashers.

The Humans 1 WHEEL: these can be mounted and ridden unicycle style. They can also be rolled back to help other Humes along.

The Humans 1 FIRE: removes unwanted foliage from the way of your Humans. Careful taht you don't use it too near your tribesmen or you'll turn them as black as a cinder - it's worth doing for novelty value at least a couple of times.

The Humans 1 DINOSAURS: are very dangerous if not treated correctly, i.e. they eat you.

The Humans 1 ROPE: very handy for lifting fellow members of your tribe to safety out of rather deep ravines that they'd have great difficulty jumping out of.

The Humans 1 STACKERS: in prehistoric times man (there aren't any ladies around - but your tribe does get bigger!) was a bit on the short side, so when climbing over boulders you have to climb on top of one another, not in the Biblical sense though.

The Humans 1 PTERODACTYL: this peculiar prehistoric bird is dead handy if you need a quick ride to rescue a fellow caveman or piece of rope you might need.

Menschen sind die besseren Lemminge?

The Humans 1 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Jede neue Company wünscht sich zum Einstieg einen richtigen Knaller, am besten gleich einen Mega-Hit, wie Lemmings" einer war. Gratulation an Mirage - ihr Erstling könnte den Erfolg der kleinen Wühler sogar noch übertreffen!

Die Anspielung auf die liebenswerten Psygnosis-Selbstmörder kommt freilich nicht von ungefähr, grundsätzlich wird dem Spieler auch hier ein Stamm von (allerdings menschlichen) Schützlingen zugeteilt, den er unbeschadet durch 100 Level zum jeweiligen Ausgang führen soll. Somit können auch die Puzzles dieser Action-Knobelei eine prinzipielle Ähnlichkeit mit "Lemmings" nicht ganz verleugnen, dennoch hinkt der Vergleich - The Humans ist einfach unvergleichlich!

Kurz und sehr gut, Mirage hat sich die besten Elemente des Psygnosis-Hammers geschnappt, gibt dem Spieler aber mehr Möglichkeiten an die Hand. Um die kleinen Burschen mit den entzückenden Knubbelnasen durch vier Epochen von der Steinzeit durch das Mittelalter bis zur Zukunft zu dirigieren, muß man sie klettern, laufen und radeln lassen, es gilt mit Speer und Seil zu hantieren, und gelegentlich werden Hindernisse mit einer menschlichen Brücke überwunden.

Nur sind die Handlungsmöglichkeiten hier nicht von Anfang an vorgegeben, fast alle Dinge wie etwa Rad, Speer oder Feuer wollen vor Gebrauch erst eingesammelt werden - und davor müssen sie die Mini-Menschen erst mal entdecken, was man in irre witzigen Zwischensequenzen zu sehen bekommt.

Wie beim "Vorbild" sind für die einzelnen Probleme immer wieder neue Strategien zu erarbeiten, der Schwierigkeitsgrad steigert sich auch hier schön langsam. Man beginnt noch recht einfach mit nur drei Lendenschurzträgern, die natürliche einzeln anwählbar sind.

Am ende eines sicher und trickreich durchwanderten Abschnitts wartet zur Belohnung eine neue Entdeckung, mit der unsere Helden aber oft vorerst noch gar nichts anzufangen wissen. Später wird der Kram dann umso dringender benötigt, genau wie Feingefühl im Umgang mit dem Stick und eine Extraportion Hirnschmalz - zumindest, wenn das Grüppchen nicht gefräßigen Sauriern, tiefen Schluchten oder einer anderen der reichlich vorhandenen Gefahren zum Opfer fallen soll...

The Humans ist ein überaus gelungener Genre-Cocktail, der blitzschnell zum Longdrink wird; so einfach kommt man von den haarsträubenden Geschicklichkeits- und Denksportaufgaben nämlich nicht wieder los.

Die einleuchtende Steuerung (Stick, Icons und/oder Tasten), die putzige Grafik mit den himmlischen Animationen, höllischen Cartoon-Sequenzen und dem kleinen aber feinen Scrolling, sowie der jederzeit passende Soundtrack tun ein übriges - bald schon ist man nach den witzigen Wichten noch süchtiger, als man das nach den launigen Lemmingen war! (Manfred Kleimann)

The Humans 1 logo

Mirage unleash their Lemming-alike. But what's it got to do with 2001?

You know, 2001 was a strange film. Hailed now as an SF classic, it was panned on its original release and bombed with audiences. It only began to gain a reputation when '60s hippes took a liking to it because they reckoned that all that daft stargate nonsense at the end was a bit like a druggy experience, hence the line on the poster for the film's re-release, 'The Ultimate Trip'. It soon gained a cult audience, and by the mid '70s it was being called the greatest SF film of all time. (Great stuff Dave, but could you do a review for us eventually? - Ed.).

Anyway, remember how one caveman picks up a bone and uses it as a weapon, and this is shown to be the first step in man's evolution beyond the monkey stage? More to the point, he doesn't learn how to do this by accident - he's given a clue by a big black monolith that suddenly appears from nowhere.

And then the film goes on to suggest that these monoliths have been egging us humans on for the last few millennia, to get us to the technological stage we are at today. In Humans you get to be that monolith.

The game is a puzzler in a Lemmings vein. Set in prehistoric times you have to help your tribe discover the spear, fire, rope and the wheel and help them on the first steps towards civilisation. Each level comprises a series of platforms, and you are given a goal to achieve. The first, for example, is to discover the spear. You don't make a discovery on every level - instead the levels after you make a discovery require you to learn how to use it a number of different ways. With the spear, you can throw it, brandish it to keep dinosaurs at bay (yes, historically accuracy has gone right out of the window) or use it to vault over gaps.

Some of the levels are very ingenious

You have a number of humans in your tribe at the start of each level, and you have a certain amount left alive at the end or it's 'game over'. You control one human at a time, guding him around and making him pick things up.

You can also make them climb on each other's shoulders so that they can reach high ledges. When you discover fire you can burn down ignitable obstacles while the wheel increases your mobility and gap-crossing abilities. You can also hitch rides on the backs of pterodactyls. There are also pressure pads which remove large stone walls. (So there must be some kind of advanced species lurking around somewhere, mustn't there?)

The basic idea is pretty sound, and some of the levels are very ingenious and taking some working out. By you have to be committed, because the mechanics of the game work against your enjoyment. It comes on three disks, yet doesn't recognise a second disk drive, and so there's a lot of disk-swapping going on, and the loading seems to take an age.

And then there's the control system - a mixture of joystick and keyboard, it's incredibly awkward, and hardly makes split-second timing a possibility. For example, to select a human you have to flick through them using the cursor keys, which is a pain when there are quite a few of them on the screen. A mouse-controlled system where you could just click on the man you want you have been much better.

The graphics are a strange mix, too. The humans are well drawn and animated, and the levels graphics are colourful, but the dinosaurs and other creatures are pretty lame. They're all serviceable, but not jolly enough for the atmosphere the game is trying to create.

A shame, really, as Humans has potential, but like the species it is based on, it squanders it (bit of Star Trek-like philosophy for you there).

The Humans 1
  1. This spear should come in handy, so start by sending a man up for it.
  2. Throw the spear. It'll land on the platform below, where the other trogs can get at it.
  3. Throw the spear to kill old Tyro, otherwise you're Rex's lunch.
  4. There's another spear here, so pick it up on your way past.
  5. Vault onto Terry's back to get across the gap.
  6. You'll need to get gour trogs up here, then get them to stack up so that one can climb up and discover fire!

The Humans 1 logo

Mirage's latest puzzler is set in the stone age. Tony Dillon discovers that he looks rather good in a loin cloth. (The very thought...).

Humans is a game in which you control a lot of small, unintelligent, but undeniably cute characters around platform-dominated levels with the aim of getting them to the exit before the clock runs out. Yes, it's another game that (very) loosely falls into the 'it's-a-bit-like-Lemmings-really-isn't-it?' category.

These are no ordinary humans, however. This is prehistoric man, the first animal ever to discover personal modesty before fire. You are in charge of a tribe of these barbaric warriors as they wander aimlessly through eight of the most taxing levels I've encountered in a puzzle game. To begin with, you only have eight men to control, but as the game progresses, you can gather more by rescuing them from traps and other predicaments. But what exactly do you have to do?

The game is split over six different types of terrain: Caves, Summer, Winter, Desert, Forest and Marsh. The aim of each level is one of three things. You'll either have to get one human to the exit, discover a particular object such as a spear or fire, or rescue a prisoner. Each of the levels is a huge scrolling affair riddled with platforms, and you begin each one with only enough men to solve the puzzle involved.

Each human begins with only two abilities. Picking up objects is an obvious one, but the other allows you to stack men on top of each other. This is the only way to reach higher platforms, and the more men you use, the more unstable the tower of bodies becomes.

As you discover the various objects within the game, the humans become more proficient. For example, picking up a spear adds three new skills to a player. He can throw it to other humans, he can use it as a weapon of he can pole vault with it, allowing him to cross gaps between platforms.

The control system is simple enough. The joystick controls all the walking about, and pushing up automatically puts the current man into a stacking position. On the keyboard, the function keys transfers control over the humans on screen, and the space bar and return keys are used, respectively, to cycle through the menu options at the bottom of the screen and to select an option. Only the available options are shown, thankfully, so you don't have to trudge through a lot of useless icons.

There are only three things that can kill you: dinosaurs will most certainly eat you sooner than you blink, and falling too far smashes you to a pulp. Finally, the evolutionary clock hurrying you along each level, is enough to wipe out your entire tribe in one fell swoop.

Humans is a hell of a lot of fun to play, even if most of the levels require repeated endeavour to crack them. With each level made up of a number of screens, it is never immediately apparent what you are supposed to do or where you are supposed to go.

Because of its similarities with Lemmings, the game will probably be slagged off by a number of magazines, but that is being incredibly short-sighted as the gameplay is decidedly different and very challenging. The incidental humour and brilliant animation only add to what is already an above average game, and I heartily recommend Humans to anyone who enjoys a challenge.


If you're lucky enough to have a Meg, and let's face it who isn't, then you will be interested in the animations that pop up between some levels - usually after you've discovered a particular item. First, you'll be greeted with a newspaper headline celebrating your deed, followed by Mirage's interpretation of how it all happened. I won't spoil it for you, but the caveman who discovered fire and then wondered what it tasted like had me laughing for ages..

The Humans 1 logo CD32

A platform/puzzler in the Lemmings mould, Humans (Gametek, 0753 553445, £29.99, 78 per cent) is an evolutionary game where you attempt to guide Man through a whole pile of levels discovering a variety of helpful delights - such as fire, the wheel and the rope - along the way.

Loads of tricky puzzles have to be solved before you can progress between levels. And you'll encounter many obstacles along the way including burning bushes which you dispose of using fire. The controls can be a bit fiddly at times, but with both Humans versions one and two included, it's pretty good value.

The Humans 1 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Als diese Action-Puzzelei vor bald zwei Jahren erstmals erschien, zeichnete Mirage als Hersteller verantwortlich; das "Versilbern" der putzigen Neanderthaler hat nun Gametek besorgt - mit Erfolg.

Nicht, daß hier die Möglichkeiten der 32-Bit Hardware ausgereizt würden, indem man dem Game mehr Farben oder Parallax-Scrolling spendiert hätte; der Fortschitt ist inhaltlicher Natur: Auf der CD finden sich neben dem Originalprogramm noch die Zusatzlevels der ehemaligen Datadisk "Human Race", wodurch Freunde actionlastiger Knobelei wirklich voll auf ihre Kosten kommen!

Das Gameplay, welches wegen seiner Ähnlichkeit mit "Lemmings" schon das Gericht beschäftigte, überzeugt noch heute. Eine je Level vershieden große Anzahl von urigen Menschlein turnt durch scrollende Höhlen, Berge oder über Palmenstrände, um diverse Missionen zu erfüllen - mal gilt es, einen Ausgang zu erreichen, dann nützliche Gegenstände wie das Rad oder Feuer zu entdecken und aufzusammeln.

Per Knopfdruck wird zwischen den Stammesbrüdern hin und her geschaltet, um sie jeweils einzeln zu dirigieren, Räuberleitern zu bilden, Seile zu erklettern und sich in ausgetüfteltem Teamwork zu üben.

Dazu gehört auch der geschickte Einsatz prähistorischer Errungenschaften, etwa Stabhochsprung oder Speerwurf auf Saurier.

An Charme und Witz fehlt es den 150 Abschnitten somit nicht, allenfalls ein wenig an Abwechslung. Knobelfreaks werden diese Schillerscheibe dennoch lieben, zumal sie gegenüber der Disk-Version drastisch verkürzte Ladezeiten und stark verbesserte Pad-Handhabung bietet.

Und die Optik mit den launigen Zwischen-Animationen war ja schon immer so nett, wie es die Akustik mit CD-Musik und/oder FX jetzt geworden ist. (rl)