Powermonger logo

Publisher: Electronic Arts Price: £24.99

For a long time it was as if Powermonger was going to be Populous 2. After all, the game features the same style of graphics, and was being programmed by the same programmers. As it transpires, Powermonger is anything but Populous 2, and any familiarity with the original Populous will count for little in this game.

Miremer, your ex-kingdom has gone up in flames and molten ash, making you take your people to the seas in order to find a new home. Arriving at the top left corner of a large map containing 195 islands, your mission is to conquer each and every one, by trade, espionage, and naked steel in the vitals.

The first few islands are quite easy to conquer (if two thirds of the population are under your sway, this counts as conquered), but getting down towards the bottom right hand corner of the map, the opposing armies get bigger and nastier, requiring food and resources need to be skilfully managed. Conquer the final island in the bottom right corner of the map and overall victory is yours.

The display is familiar territory for Populous players, a 3D filled vector centre display shows the rolling landscape, numerous surface features, towns and centres of population, wildlife (sheep!) and of course, armies. This can be zoomed into and out, but if you try to move the map while on max zoom, you can easily lose track of what it was you were looking at. It's best to keep at maximum distance until a fight breaks out, as all your men and Captains are displayed anyway, no matter what the scale.

Initially you start with once Captain, who is in fact yourself. So if you get killed in battle then it doesn't matter how many others you have, it's game over time, and a particularly gory end scene. Captains have three aggression levels (peaceful, neutral, aggressive) which affect how they trade, the numbers of men they will recruit in one session and quite how bloodthirsty they are when attacking a settlement. Although initially it is great fun to send your men off on a mad killing spree, when you get to the harder islands you need to keep them to the minimum forces so that all those defeated troops either end up forming a new army on your side, or are put to work harvesting the fields.

Troops can be recruited from any of your established settlements, but leaving them empty simply invites an attack by a rival. The troops will faithfully follow your Captain, but only as long as morale is high, food is plentiful and the weather is nice.
Forcing an attack in winter (yup, there are seasons along with snow and rain) can lead to mass desertions if food is scarce, so food management as well as battle tactics need to be incorporated in to the successful powermonger's strategy.

The detail in the graphics and the continuously evolving world is astonishing. Every person in the game has a name, profession, allegiance and health rating. Sheep wander the meadows, birds flock to and fro, and fishermen go out to sea. Added to this the sound effects are just brilliant. You can hear the livestock making their own particular noises, the sound of wood sawing comes from forests where inventions are being made, and your Captain grunts 'Yeah", in tones designed to tell you how happy he is with your orders.

Powermonger really is a step beyond Populous, but it isn't as immediate. You have to read the manual, and work out and experiment on courses of action. Initially, the game is intriguing but baffling however, bit by bit you get drawn into the intricate, evolving and utterly marvellous world of Powermonger.

Powermonger logo Amiga Format Gold

Electronic Arts *  29.99 Mouse

The big quake shook the world's power structure to its foundations. Not only was the land reformed but the fragile alliances that ensured peace were shattered. Now three new leaders want to take over by usurping your rightful place as the future king. They have already exploited the natural disaster to grab many of your holdings, but, with great skill and cunning, it may just be possible to reconquer the world land by land.

In each of the 195 separate lands you have, under your control, a small band of loyal troops. Each is lead by a captain, who exercises absolute power on your behalf. They are icon-ordered agents who will rebuild your empire. In the tougher lands, they also recruit sub-captains, who they control, to help overcome the manifold problems that lay on the road to power.

As Far as the Eye Can See
All of a captain's actions are acted out on a magnified section of a relief map, which is displayed on the table in front of them. It details what is happening in a land and can be zoomed in on to aid decision making. The captains are displayed as red-caped figures accompanied by a small body of troops who doggedly obey every order.
You are a Powermonger and you give orders to the 'Boss' captain who relays the command to subordinate captains, who then detail their men to do the deed. Messages are carried by pigeon which proves that Powermonger is a gem of strategy not speed.

A land is captured when your captain controls two thirds of the population. Strategy involves winning the hearts and minds of the folks by kindness or alliance, and then by putting everyone to the sword. Either way your enemies are robbed of manpower and you win. Once a majority is achieved that lands is yours and the game pitches another, more difficult, country your way. New lands must be conquered with a fresh captain.

Peace Bread and Land (Well Maybe)
Each land is constituted of peasants, towns and other armies. The peasants, suffering their historical lot, supply the food and manpower for conquest. They're a simple bunch who follow the guy with the biggest army. However, until you prove your power they fight for their old captain. Some show of aggression is necessary to win even the smallest 'ville to your cause and depending on the posture (aggression setting) of your captain they can either be slaughtered or spared for conscription into your own forces.

Captured towns have a number of uses for a budding dictator. They can be raided for food and men or serve as a workshop for building the tools of conquest. Villages can be given food, stockpiles of weapons or de-ranked (demobbed troopers to form a stronger defence force and because 'invention' (making stuff) is only possible in workshops, even the buildings become vital to your success in Powermonger.

Each game centres on increasing the number of villages under your direct control and weakening rival Powermongers by either war or alliance. Trade and espionage can also be utilised, where appropriate, to strengthen your grip.

Land of the Little People
Watching the little people go to war on your behalf is fun. They bimble around killing each other, becoming ghosts, frightening birds, chopping down trees and murdering sheep. They illustrate the implications of your decisions and give life-saving clues. Both the scenery and its inhabitants are interactive with a purpose and history, until you alter destiny's course that is!

The interactive element of the game is also highlighted by your captain's reaction to orders. Each land is an enormous logistic puzzle and certain steps must be taken to ensure success. If you give a captain an order that doesn't readily fit this pattern, or put him in mortal danger, his 'Yeah' acknowledgements become decidedly muted (if he replies at all). An order which fits the pattern however, is greeted with the most enthusiastic reply.

Populous Too!
As the puzzles of each land unravel it becomes clear Powermonger is a direct, if very different, descendant of Populous. The little people are charming and they make fascinating viewing. Their actions are deliberately slow, imitating the logistical difficulties of conquest.

The world you want to conquer is large and the chunks it comes in frequently seem too big to handle. The parameters are flexible enough to embroil would-be world beaters in battle and trade for years. Yet there are already supplementary data disks planned.

The drive for world domination will suit those who love clever graphics, amusing sound and masses of gameplay. It takes time to get used to the way this world works. After the initial headaches and frustrated cries, world domination is your.

It takes two...
Two human players using two Amigas can monger the power out of each other simultaneously by using a null-modem cable to connect their machines via serial ports. Or if the players are separated by distance a modem connected to the phone will do. Naturally both players will need an original copy of Powermonger but it's worth the investment.

Powermonger logo Amiga Joker Hit

Stellt man hundert Strategiefans die Frage, worauf sie momentan warten, kann man seine letzte Diskette darauf verwetten, daß die Antwort in 99 F"allen lautet: "Auf Populous II". Nun, damit wird's wohl vor Mitte 1991 nichts werden, aber Electronic Arts hat jetzt schon für vollwertigen Ersatz gesorgt!

Powermonger stammt vom selben Programmiererteam und weist deshalb natürlich auch einige Ähnlichkeiten mit "Populous" auf. In diesem Game haben die Jungs von Bullfrog all jene Ideen untergebracht, die aus Speicherplatz- oder Zeitgründen in "Populous" nicht mehr eingebaut werden konnten. Und trotzdem ist Powermonger ein völlig eigenständiges Spiel: Ein schreckliches Erdbeben hat deine alte Heimat in Schutt und Asche gelegt, darum begibst du dich mit deinen Gefolgsleuten auf die Suche nach neuem Lebensraum. Und, oh Glück - ihr findet tatsächlich eine wunderschöne Insel. Dummerweise ist sie schon besiedelt, deshalb müßt ihr euch irgendwie mit den jetzigen Besitzern arrangieren. Und genau um das Erobern und anschließende Verwalten von (bereits bewohnten) Territorien dreht sich das gesamte Spiel.

Der Hauptscreen enthält unter anderem eine Übersichtskarte mit verschiedenen Darstellungsmodi: In einem werden Hügel, Täler und Ebenen angezeigt, in einem anderen Bäume, Häuser, Werkstätten und Menschen; weitere Modi geben Auskunft über die vorhandenen Siedlungen und Nahrungsvorkommen.

Jedes Detail auf dieser Karte läßt sich mit einer Zoom-function ins Riesenhafte vergrößern und auf einen "Tisch" projezieren, der den größten Teil des Bildschirms einnimmt. Dort kann man dann alle Objekte betrachten, sie heranzoomen, das ganze Bild drehen und (schnell oder langsam) in alle Richtungen scrollen. Es ist ohne weiteres möglich, ein einzelnes Schaf oder einen bestimmten Busch genauer in Augenschein zu nehmen - da fühlt man sich wirklich schon fast wie der liebe Gott persönlich!

Am entgegengesetzten Ende des besagten Tisches steht der "Captain", gewissermaßen dein verlängerter Arm auf der Insel. Anfangs ist er noch alleine, später können aber bis zu fünf weitere dazukommen. Alle Befehle, die du ihm erteilst, führt er dann auf der Insel aus. Wie er sich dabei anstellt, hängt von seiner Laune auf, und die läßt sich wiederum mit Hilfe von drei Schwerter-Icons festlegen: Ein Schwert bedeutet, daß der Captain passiv und geduldig gestimmt ist; bei zwei Schwertern wird er schon etwas forscher, und bei drei Schwertern ist er sogar richtiggehend aggressiv.

Natürlich wirkt sich die jeweilige Gemütslage ganz unmittelbar auf den Erfolg seiner Bemühungen aus: Geht der Captain beispielsweise total aggressiv in ein fremdes Dorf und verlangt er Lebensmittel für dich und deine Leute, werden die verängstigten Bewohner sie ihm zwar geben, aber gleichzeitig hast du dir damit ein paar Feinde fürs Leben geschaffen. Probiert er es aber auf die sanfte Tour, bekommt er vielleicht nicht ganz so viel, dafür ist er in diesem Dorf auch in Zukunft ein gern-gesehener Gast.

Man muß sich die Welt von Powermonger als eine Art Mikrokosmos vorstellen, in dem jede Figur ihr Eigenleben hat - und ihre eigenen Bedürfnisse. Gottseidank sind die Leute nicht so furchtbar anspruchsvoll, wenn sie immer ordentlich zu essen kriegen, sind sie meistens schon zufrieden. Und zufriedene Untertanen sind nicht nur eine Zierde für jeden Herrscher, sondern tragen auch kräftig zum eigenen Aufstieg bei: Um ein Gebiet zu erobern, muß man nämlich mindestens 50 Prozent der Bewohner auf seine Seite bringen.

Manchmal hilft allerdings die ganze Freundlichkeit nichts, und ein Krieg gegen die Nachbardörfer ist unvermeidlich. Dann rekrutiert man erstmals genügend Leute, läßt Speere, Katapulte und Boots herstellen, sendet Spione aus, verschiebt Truppen von einem Captain zum anderen und schickt zum Schluß alle Kämpfer wieder nach Hause.

Auch sonst liegt alle Macht der Welt in deinen Händen: Du kannst mit andere Dörfern Handel treiben, Bündnisse schließen, oder auch ganz einfach jemand zum Essen holen einteilen. Alle Befehle, die man ausgibt, werden auch am Bildschirm umgesetzt; so kannst du zum Beispiel beobachten, wie deine Gefolgsleute die Katapulte zum Schlachtfeld schieben, die sie zuvor auf deine Anweisung hin gebaut haben.

Powermonger lebt von tausenderlei kleinen Details und den Gesetztmäßigkeiten, die sie alle zusammenhalten. Bis man auch nur einen Teil davon erkundet hat, sitzt man ganz schön lange vor seinem Amiga! Alleine in der "Grundausstattung" enthält das Programm bereits 195 verschiedene, fix-fertige Landschaften. Wem das nicht reicht, der kann sich per Zufallsgenerator neue entwerfen lassen. Nicht genug? Auch kein Problem, Electronic Arts bastelt bereits an einer Datendiskette mit noch mehr Landschaften!

Technisch wurde das Game exzellent in Szene gesetzt: Es gibt z.B. Unheimlich viele Soundeffekte, von blökenden Schafen über Windgeheule und Regengeplätscher bis hin zum rasselnden Atem des Captains. Viele dieser Geräusche entpuppen sich als versteckte Hinweise: wenn etwa der Captain besonders heftig zu schnaufen anfängt, kann das daran liegen, daß er deinen Befehlt für völlig unsinnig hält! Oder wenn man gerade ein Waldstück durchsucht und plötzlich das Blöken einer Schafherde hört - dann steht schon mal fest, was es heute zum Mittagessen geben wird.

Neben der atemberaubenden Grafik und den vorzüglichen Sound-FX hat Powermonger auch in puncto Handhabung einiges zu bieten. Kleine Auswahl: Die Spielgeschwindigkeit ist veränderbar, es gibt eine Pause-Funktion, Spielstände können abgespeichert werden, ein Zwei-Spieler-Modus ist eingebaut, via (Null-) Modem lassen sich mehrere Computer zusammengeschalten, ja es können sogar zwei Computer gegeneinander spielen!

Wer sich also schon für "Populous" begeistert hat, dem stehen jetzt mit Sicherheit wieder ein paar anstrengende Nachtgeschichten bevor. Powermonger ist in jeder Hinsicht ein Meisterwerk, das unter Garantie alle Hitparaden im Sturm erobern wird - ein Joker-Hit ist es bereits jetzt! (C. Borgmeier)

Powermonger logo CU Superstar

Bullfrog scoop all the awards this month with a game destined for the 16-bit Hall of Game. Powermonger has managed to live up to all expectations (and months of computer press hype), and is a marvellously entertaining and original product.

Washed ashore upon a foreign land, with only a handful of loyal followers, you crave ultimate wealth and power. As a former king, this land will be yours! You must win the support of those you encounter by the art of diplomacy or the thrust of a sword. Only by balancing force with restraint and present needs with those to come will you succeed in your quest for total supremacy.

The game commences with your men camped around a fire next to a small village. They're easily beaten, but is that the right tactic? Do you want to subjugate the population or have them join you on their own free will? Raising a village means depriving yourself of willing hands who could tend the fields, join your army or invent bows and cannons for your troops. To achieve victory conditions you must carefully build up an army, form alliances with friendly villages and cultivate the land to provide sustenance for your troops and supporters.

The task's made harder by rival Captains intent on achieving power. As you progress through the game building up resources and kicking ass, the other Captains will be recruiting troops and spreading their sphere of influence. You can expect a battle royal when you eventually meet up with them Once a Captain has been defeated, he will join forces with you and lead an independent army on your behalf. He can also infiltrate enemy villages and provide useful information to help plan an attack.

On longer campaigns it is necessary to look after supplies and make sure harvests are collected and stored for future needs. An army marches on its stomach and if you do not feed them, they will be less effective in combat, desert or even join the opposing forces. Likewise, if you keep an army on the move for too long and in poor weather they will also go AWOL.

Be warned, the complex gameplay in Powermonger won't suit the hack 'n' slash brigade or the shoot 'em up fanatic, but Bullfrog have endeavoured to make the game controls as simple as possible. Two maps provide all the necessary information you will need to start the game. The smaller map, in the upper left hand corner of the screen, shows the part of the world you are attempting to conquer. By clicking onto the four map icons, information can be gathered on the location of rival settlements and their stocks of food as well as the lie of the land, roads, men, forests and workshops.

The main map offers a digital close up view of one section of the land and can show entire villages in fine detail, lock, stock and courtyard. The vector graphics-based landscape provides a highly flexible viewing system capable of generating hills, rivers, waterfalls and valleys. The 3D representation allows you to zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the lands as you want. The buildings and people are bit-mapped graphics that grow and shrink but which do not actually rotate with the landscape. By clicking the pointer arrow on the compass ou can move about the main map fairly easily. To move faster, just click on the smaller map and instantaneously the larger map displays the area selected.

All actions are controlled by just 20 icons at the base of the large map. From here you can set aggression levels, issue orders to attack a village, conscript troops, invent things, trade or bribe villagers, make alliances, spy on your enemies, search for food or equip your soldiers with weapons. As there is only one screen in the whole game everything is simplicity itself.

A special query symbol (signified by a question mark) allows you to access information about any living or non-living object in the game by clicking onto them. For example, click on to a house and you will get information windows on the people who live there, the type of building, and settlement, to what Captain the settlement belongs, the nearest forest, how much food exists in the entire settlement and what stocks the village has accumulated.

The invent icon is handy for obtaining weapons and farming equipment. This is useful for trading with other villages as food is the universal currency and if you are short on supplies you can always flog them some bows and arrows or a plough. A cannon or catapult is also useful when attempting to flatten a village, but will take a lot of manpower to move it.

Things can only be invented in villages which have a workshop. The Captain's aggression level and the position of the settlement will determine what you will produce. If your settlement is near a forest and you set your aggression to maximum, you will probably end up with bows and pikes, but if your posture was passive you'd most likely get a plough.

This complex interaction of game elements is an example of the far reaching gameplay involved in Powermonger. Obviously the 13 months taken to develop the game have been put to good use.

Posture levels also decide the outcome of battles. If a Captain's posture is aggressive his troops will kill more people in the course of a battle. IF set at passive he will only kill a few and put the majority of people to work for him. The more aggressive he is, the more food he will take from a capture village and the better trading deals he will set up.

The first few lands are easy to conquer but from then on they get progressively harder. With 195 lands to invade you are going to be playing Powermonger for some time. As if this was not enough a special Random Land option is capable of generating 4 to the power 59 worlds, enough to keep you occupied for a lifetime. The Amiga can be linked up to another Amiga or ST so up to 3 friends can join in and play against you and there will also be additional data disks released which will develop the world of Powermonger even further. These will keep the basic gameplay but change a number of the game's parameters. Nothing has been decided upon as yet, but it would be possible to update the game to include modern warfare or change the landscape to that of an alien world.

Powermonger is the most complete game I have played and makes full use of the Amiga's capabilities. It is destined to become a classic of its type. Buy it and get the power.

Powermonger logo Zero Hero

Baboon Danny Hands up who wants the Powermonger scenario blurb? Okay, here goes.. "Your kingdom, Miremer, was destroyed by a devastating earthquake. Collapsing mountains and fiery, poisonous ash spared few of your subjects and none of your lands..." Well, that's the first bit anyway; it's rather wordy, so here's a précis of the rest... "You and a handful of subjects have been bobbing about in a boat at sea for weeks, hoping to find landfall. And find landfall you do - a rich and fertile land. Brilliant. That means you can populate it and carry on as before. But there's a hitch! The land is already populated with petty lords and barons reigning over loads of smelly, plebby peasants. Now, you could move into one of the towns and resign yourself to a life of servitude. Or you could try to conquer the island..."
So there you have it. You're the New Kids On The Block - let's hope you don't look like Danny (i.e. the one who resembles a baboon).

A picture paints a thousand words but a moving picture paints about ten thousand words. So, what you won't be able to tell from the screenshots is that the central 'close-up map' (where all the action takes place) is radically different from that of Populous. The reason is simple. Where the Populous world was made up of bitmapped "Blocks" which could be scrolled in four directions and had only one magnification level, the world of Powermonger is made of polygons - and this means freedom of movement.

Not only can you now scroll the world in eight directions, but you can also do just about anything else, You can rotate it for instance, gaining vantage points that would otherwise be unavailable. And you can zoom in and out to your hearts content. You can even pretend to be an earthworm or something, and go underneath the whole thing (although there's not a lot of point in doing so). You can extend the playing area too, so it fills the whole screen (obscuring the control icons and stuff) - this is good for 'spectating' which is something you'll be doing much more than in Populous.

It's a game of domination, as we've already said. But unlike Populous, it's not just a case of 'you versus him', because there are several sides, all of whom have ultimate power in mind. You start with a small band of followers and the idea is to turn them into a large band of followers - a goal you achieve by attacking towns, defeating the townsfolk and gaining the captain of the town as an ally.

Once an enemy captain is an ally he'll join you at The Table (the very large graphic surrounding the playing area) and will respond to your orders. Having captured a town, you also capture its resources (most importantly foodstocks). Enough food has to be available to feed all your subjects, you see, or they'll start to think of you as a bit of a tosser and go their own way. Some towns contain a workshop, which is dead handy.

You can order the allied captain to 'invent', whereupon he and his townsfolk will gather materials (wood if they're near forests, ores if they're near mountains etc) and build you lots of weapons (from swords to cannons to giant catapults) which make later battles against other towns all the more satisfying.

Whenever you issue an order to an allied captain, it's carried to him by carrier pigeon - and if he's close to you (on the same area of the close-up map for instance) the bird won't take too long to reach him.
However, if you've been on walkabout since recruiting him, you might find yourself several 'screens' away - in which case (as pigeons don't travel at 186,000 miles per second) the message may take some time to arrive. In fact it's worse than that - pigeons have been known to get shot down (in a battle or something) and you can't monitor the bird's progress, you have way of knowing if the order actually got through.

If you thought the Populous population was big, then get this. Not only does Powermonger have an equally massive population, each and every member has a name, characteristic traits, relationships with other members, and certain skills. You can point your cursor arrow at someone, click the mouse button, and up comes a text box: "Harold of Doon, husband of Madge. Harold is good at macramé and is a bit of a chicken." So if you're attacking a town full of loads of people like Harold, you know you'll have an easy time of it (although if you kill Harold, his spouse Madge will 'remember' and won't co-operate with you).

The people in Powermonger have different professions as well, depending on the area in which their settlement is situated. Settlements near the coast are populated by fishermen, those near forests by woodcutters and so on. Take over a town of woodcutters which contains a workshop and they'll invent 'wooden things': bows, catapults etc. Take over a town of fishermen with a workshop and they'll probably come up with a new recipe for Captain Birdseye.

Amiga review Dunc: It's hard to know quite where to start, really. There's not a lot of space, and Powermonger is the kind of game that could easily lend itself to half the magazine. Ho hum. Er, well, let'' get the inevitable Populous comparisons out of the way. Yes, Powermonger does, on the surface of things, look a hell of a lot like Populous. Mind you, seeing as it's written by exactly the same people it's hardly surprising. A scrolling central play area surrounded by icons was a very good idea, and just because it's been done once is no reason to not repeat it (after all, how many vertically scrolling shoot-'em-ups can you think of?).

Where Powermonger departs from Populous is in the artificial intelligence stakes. Each sprite has certain characteristics (which you can examine if you want) and because of these each one will respond differently to outside influences. Attack one person and he'll run away. Attack another and he'll hit you back. Attack yet another and he'll get out a copy of the Evening Standard and pretend he hadn't noticed. Some characters are curious about things and will examine them. Others are totally thick and wander around almost aimlessly. Another difference between the two games is that Powermonger (because of the depth) is more RPG-ish than it's predecessor.

It's the sort of game that's not too hard to get into, but will take months of dedication to master. For instance, the seasons. As you play, every ten minutes or so, the season changes. Rain pours down in Autumn, snow in Winter and so on, accompanied by the relevant sounds - from the winds of the latter months to the chirpy bird noises of Summer. Aesthetics? Well, yes, but not just that. A little hint here - in Winter it's abit cold, isn't it? So don't bother wasting time farming. Obvious? Okay, well what about the best time to invent things then? When isn't there much to do? Exactly - Winter again! Whoops, gave away a free 'tip' there...

There are some 'right on' environmental touches, too. Cut down all the trees and the climate gradually changes (trees do grow back, but it takes ages). I'm surprised there isn't a little digitised Sting wandering around looking for Indians to befriend. There are humorous touches too, such as the 'sheep shagging'- apparently if a farmer and a sheep meet under a tree, certain 'activities' take place. Mary Whitehouse must be notified at once.

Basically though, it all comes back to the conquest aspect of the game, which, let's face it, is what most people are interested in. It's ruddy brilliant. Shame there's not any room left really, isn't it? Still, these things happen. Stop

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Tesco's pickled gherkins are particularly tasty." *
Norris Mcwhirter Beneath the kindly exterior of Norris - the softly spoken walking record book - lies a megalomaniacal desire for world domination. There are several telltale signs:
1. Who else but a potential megalomaniac would - realizing he could never break any records himself - deliberately compile a book containing thousands of world class achievers with a picture of himself right at the front? "Is it Norris?" (readers voice). Yes, that's right.
2. When everyone decried cricketers going to South Africa, who defended their 'freedom of choice'? "Norris!" (You're getting the hang of this.)
3. Who was it who said all small children under the age of five with the letter 'e' in their name should be 'strung up' because it's the 'only language they understand'? "Norris?" Er, no, I made that one up.
The 'Behaviour and the Brain' man Have you ever seen a thing called Behaviour And The Brain on the Open University on BBC2? Well, basically it's all about torturing rats to prove things like how much it hurts to be tortured. I was watching this programme and they said they had this rat sellotaped inside a cardboard tube (from the middle of a toilet roll). The cardboard tube was fastened to a base-board with the rat's tail protruding from one end. The tail was positioned over a hot plate which was turned on at regular intervals. Sometimes it flicked its tail to the right; sometimes to the left. From this the man from the Beeb deduced something or other, like the rat didn't like having its tail fried while being strapped inside a tube. Our deduction is that he's a complete powermongering bast.
* Bernard Mussel speaking at the 1961 symposium on Green Vegetables and their Influence upon Revolutionary Movements.
Powermongering isn't an easy job like fishmongering. No, powermongering is much more demanding - as Duncan MacDonald found when we let him try the new offering from Bullfrog/Electronic Arts...
Powermonger: Options-icon OPTIONS: Save game, select multi-player option and all that sort of gear.
Powermonger: Spy-icon SPY: Send a captain to spy on enemy towns.
Powermonger: Make alliance-icon MAKE ALLIANCE: Tells a captain to make alliance with a chosen town. It costs, though: any excess objects you carry are offered as tribute.
Powermonger: Trade-icon TRADE: Send a captain into a village and swap food he carries for items produced by the villagers and vice versa.
Powermonger: Query mode-icon QUERY MODE: Select this, point the cursor arrow at an object/animal/human and it'll tell you all about them in a pop-up text window.
Powermonger: Posture-icon POSTURE: PASSIVE/NEUTRAL/AGGRESSIVE: Very important is the posture mode. If you want to be friendly and send a captain into a town in Aggressive mode then things probably won't work out too well.
If you're steaming in for a fight in Passive mode then that isn't too clever either.
There are so many different situations you'll meet, and you sometimes have to think quite hard about what posture to adopt. A lot of the actions you perform, from dropping food to trading, are dependant on the Posture setting.
Powermonger: Go home-icon GO HOME: Stops a captain and his men in their tracks and disbands them - each gling home to his own Town or Village.
Powermonger: Transfer men-icon TRANSFER MEN: Transfers troops from the control of one captain to another.
Powermonger: Get food-icon GET FOOD: Tells the captain to pick up food.
Powermonger: Drop food-icon DROP FOOD: Tells a captain to dump his food onto the ground. You can see it on the close-up map, and it can be picked up by another captain later. A strategy supply dump.
Powermonger: Un-equip-icon UN-EQUIP: Just like the drop food, but refers to weapons and stuff.
Powermonger: Attack-icon ATTACK: This is the stuff!
Powermonger: Invent-icon INVENT: Want a catapult? Fine. Puts your men into Clive Sinclair mode.
Powermonger: Send captain-icon SEND CAPTAIN: If you've found (or invented) any boats then this will allow your captain and his men to get in the boats and cross water.
Powermonger: Supply food-icon SUPPLY FOOD: Select a location that needs food and your highlighted captain will keep making trips there with tasty morsels for the inhabitants.
Powermonger: De-rank-icon DE-RANK: Disbands certain types of troops (depending on your posture). Got some wimps? Right - off they go.
Powermonger: Recruit troops-icon RECRUIT TROOPS: Again dependant on posture, you can pick up differing numbers of men from a settlement.
Powermonger: Go home-icon EQUIP: Gets your chaps kitted out with lots of lovely hardware.
The whole land in miniature. Flashing white dots are your men, and are shown regardless of which map mode you're in.
Powermonger: Contour map CONTOUR: This shows the height of the terrain.
Powermonger: Object map OBJECT: This own shows up trees, houses, workshops and things like that.
Powermonger: Normal map NORMAL: Er, normal. It shows roads.
Powermonger: Food map FOOD: Colour coded, shows amount of food in settlements.

Powermonger logo

Electronic Arts, Amiga  29.99

StarThe sequel to the enormously successful Populous, Powermonger was actually conceived during the development for Populous and has many similarities in graphic viewpoint as well as the control system. The suitably power-mad plot concerns your arrival in a new land ruled by various tinpot leaders. Since you were a king in your old realm, you decide to show these leaders what war is in a merciless drive for conquest.

The world of Powermonger is composed of a whopping great map divided up into 195 different territories. You start at the top, left-hand corner of the map, working your way down until you reach the most difficult territory positioned in the bottom, right-hand corner.

To gain control of each territory you must bring two thirds of that territory's population under your control. You do this by roaming over the territory's habitable areas conquering armies, village populations, etc. With each conquest a small set of scales will tip in your direction indicating the percentage gain towards victory.

Combat is an automatic affair. You just click on the 'attack' icon, point to the desired spot and watch your army launch an offensive. If you win, food can be taken from village stores and surrounding livestock. Any villagers who have not been slain are recruited to the cause. If a village has a workshop new weapons can be invented and constructed via the 'invention' icon. In this way you can steadily upgrade from pikes to cannons. Inventing takes advantage of the surrounding natural resources. So if your men invent pikes you will notice them chopping numerous trees down. Metallic weapons will need the assistance of a nearby ore mine.

In all actions, your posture will be the most important variable. So in combat, an aggressive posture will, more than likely, result in all of the defenders being put to the sword while a passive posture will spare as many as possible. Similarly, you have the option to trade with a village rather than attack it. Settlements will trade items for food. Here, an aggressive captain will trade a cannon before a passive captain will, for example.

Apart from the original captain that you start the game with, you also have the option of utilising any of the defeated captains that decide to defect to your side. Each captain is rated for strength (or life force), the amount of men under his command and the amount of food carried. A status box can be accessed which displays further captain stats such as aggression level and speed.

The Powermonger perspective is an improvement on the novel Populous 3D. Now you can rotate the view, as well as zooming in/out. Powermonger also boasts weather - rain and snow come and go with the seasons. Rain will affect the speed of your marching soldiers and, of course, food will be hard to come by in winter.

Powermonger is a very addictive game to play. Graphically and aurally it is excellent. For example, you will see and hear tiny sheep grazing and bleating. Your men may disturb a flock of birds as they trudge through the landscape whereupon you'll see and hear the birds as they rise in to the sky (their shadows receding on the ground). However, I do have one or two reservations.

Firstly, considering Powermonger is a wargame there is a dearth of tactical play. I can understand Bullfrog wanting to appeal to a wider audience than the normal wargame specialists, but just to have your men fall upon every settlement as a rowdy mob is stretching things a bit far. The only essential tactical combat variables tend to be weapons and the numbers of soldiers involved. Even a few simple, tactical formations would have been handy (and more believable).

In addition, I considered the reports to be lacking in certain areas. For example, if I asked my men to invent something why didn't they report back to tell me that they had just invented 'X'? The only way I could analyse this information was by clicking on individuals on the workshop itself to see what each man was carrying or what stock the workshop contained. Even then I was confused as to exactly what had been invented in the first place.

Powermonger is a very good game that has immense value for money and many unique and well-designed features (such as the seasonal changes). However, the niggly aspects take some shine off of what could, and should, have been a Sizzler.

Powermonger World War I Edition logo

Als wir vor über einem Jahr das Hauptprogramm getestet haben, stand da zu lesen, daß eine Data-Disk bereits in Vorbereitung sei. Offensichtlich haben sich die Vorbereitungen ein bißchen hingezogen - aber Ochsenfrösche sind halt mal Perfektionisten!

Und wenn man sich so anschaut, was das Bullfrog Team hier ausgebrüttet hat, versteht und verzeiht man alles: Es sind nicht einfach ein paar neue Welten hinzugekommen (ein paar ist gut: 175 Stück),hier handelt es sich beinahe um ein ganz neues PowerMonger Universum! Lediglich das Spielprinzip als solches ist noch wie gehabt, ansonsten stößt man überall auf unbekannte Gesichter, Icons und Aufgaben.

Fangen wir mit den Gesichtern an: Die Captains mit der altrömischen Toga haben ausgedient und wurden durch stramme Feldherren aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg ersetzt. Einen chicen grünen Wams haben sie an, und finster blicken sie drein - wahrscheinlich, weil sie sich selbst erst an all die neuen Icons gewöhnen müssen, die für den Einsatz der Gewehre, Flugzeuge und Panzer nötig geworden sind.

Die Spielfeld-Grafik hat zugelegt, und auch vor ein paar anderen Details hat die Zeit nicht haltgemacht. Das betrifft z.B. die Erfindungen, oder daß Nachrichten jetzt auf telegraphischem Weg bzw. Per Funk übermittelt werden. Es sind daher neue Taktiken angesagt, generell ist das Spiel etwas schwieriger geworden - einmal sind die Computergegner inteligenter als früher, zum anderen muß man sämtliche 175 Welten erobern, um den Krieg zu gewinnen. Wegen der insgesamt höheren Komplexität fehlt leider der Zwei-Spieler-Modus, was aber fairerweise auf der Packung vermerkt ist.

Zwei Dinge sind ganz beim alten geblieben: Der (Europa-) Feldzug beginnt wieder auf einer Insel, und das Programm ist wirklich jede einzelne der geforderten 49 Märker wert! (mm)

Powermonger World War I Edition logo

PowerMonger, eh? Just to refresh your memory - and (er, thumb, thumb) mine - it's (ah, got it) a rather splendid strategy game from Bullfrog that takes Populous's 3D landscape, spruces it up a bit, and adds in lots of little building and men running around.

And the WWI Edition? PowerMonger's unlikely assortment of islands has been replaced by a proper map of Europe, ripe for invading, and your Captains now sport peaked caps and moustaches. Boats have been swapped for biplanes and tanks, and the rest of the weaponry has been updated accordingly. Oh, and the sheep are now deer. Other than that, it's business as usual.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure this represents enough of an advance over PowerMonger. True, battles are a lot more exciting, with proper explosions. But the rest is essentially cosmetic. I reckon you'd want to have cash coming out of your ears to lay out for this too.

Powermonger World War I Edition logo

Electronic Arts/ST & Amiga/£14.99/Out Now

Amiga review

Dunc: Data disk alert, data disk alert! Do you feel like that about data disks? I'm not altogether sold on them, I can tell you. More of exactly the same and for quite a lot of money is how data disk gets translated to the planet I come from.

Still, Powermonger WWI Edition isn't just more of the same, because as well as having a whole new battle landscape to play on (a map of Europe - you can attack Wales), it's also got new weapons. And that's what we want really, isn't it - new weapons. New ways of killing the little people. In the original Powermonger, it was all brilliantly medieval, with pikes, swords, bows and arrows, catapults and cannon at your disposal. On this data disk, you can now play the same game but with rifles, biplanes or tanks.

Sounds good, eh? Modern armaments in a recognisable European scenario. But it doesn't quite come off, somehow. I was expecting the biplanes, once built and manned, to zoom off and swoop over enemy settlements, clearing the way long before the foot soldiers arrived.

Not so. The planes move at the same speed as everything else - they're just harder targets for the enemy at the end of the day, just like the original catapults and cannons. The tanks are more convincing than the planes, the rifles are much like the original bows and arrows, and, er, that's your lot.

The WWI setting of the data disk doesn't work as well as the original scenario. I wish it did, but it doesn't. However, just like all other data disk reviews, I've really got to finish by heating up this old chestnut: if you can't get enough of the original game, buy the add-on. If you've had enough of the original, don't. It's predictable maybe, but it's true. Stop