Terrorpods logo

My biggest worry was that Terrorpods was something to do with the appalling Gerry Anderson series that is shown well before anyone I know is awake on Saturday morning. Thankfully this turned out not to be the case.

Terrorpods is the latest Amiga game from Psygnosis, and without question the best yet. Their previous releases had ranged from OK (Deep Space, Arena) through poor (Barbarian) to absolutely pathetic (Brattacus).

Whether or not you like the games Psygnosis release you have to hand one thing to them, they produce very natty packaging indeed. With artwork by none other than Roger Dean (apparently a man of some repute in the Sci-Fi world) a lavish box, and the now ubiquitous novella (although thankfully this one is very short).

Somewhere on Earth there must be a computer that is programmed to write storylines for games that have no real plot. All you need to do is type in some evil sounding name (Terrorpods for example), and the computer will print out a suitable (if immensely boring) novella of any specified length.

Back to the game. You take on the role of a man with no name (go on punk, make my day!). You have been sent by the power that be to Colian, a planet on the edge of System 7 that is becoming the centre of some pretty heavy action, as far as goodies versus baddies is concerned.

The problem is that the baddies, in this case called ' The Empire' (heard that somewhere before?) have decided to attempt to take control of Colian, so that they can reap the reward of its immense mineral wealth. Your task is to stop them from removing all the mineral wealth from Colian and discover how the Terrorpods are made, and obtain the components to work out how to destroy them.

Once the game has loaded, and the beautifully detailed loading scenario has finally ended, you are presented with a choice of national flags. Once you have made the rather partisan decision as to which country you belong, the game begins.

The first view from your ship is that of the landscape around you, and a plethora of different mining and construction sites. Also in view, in an ominous shade of dark blue, is the ' Empire Mother Ship'. Unfortunately it is not possible to blow the Mother Ship up just yet, so wasting bullets in that direction is pointless.

Using both joystick and mouse control: joystick to move your ship about and to control surface drover (more about this later), mouse to control the information cross-hair and the position at which the phaser will be fired.

For most people, the first ten or fifteen minutes with Terrorpods will be very daunting. The instructions, though both on-screen and in the fold-out manual, are not quite as easy to understand as they could be; and even getting far enough into the game to blast a few aliens takes quite a while.

If you do spend some time reading the manual, and are then prepared to play the game 'blind' for a while, you will discover that, although it is quite well hidden, there is a really cracking game deep down. It takes concepts from all the great space computer games; Elite, Starglider, Star Wars, etc, and comes up with a game that has all the ingredients for an instant classic; trading, strategy, blasting, mapping, and more.

Having played a wide selection of Amiga games, I am quite used to trading off really good graphics and sound against good gameplay. It seems to be the norm that you can have one or the other, but not both (Defender of the Crown springs to mind). Terrorpods on the other hand gives you the best of both worlds. The graphics really are excellent, with effective use of metallic objects and intricately designed backgrounds.

Perhaps surprisingly the animation is excellent too. Unlike Psygnosis' previous games, Terrorpods does not use 'flick-scrolling', something that this magazine has complained about in length previously! The scrolling and the animation of all the characters when they metamorphose or get shot is remarkable, and at last worthy of the Amiga's potential.

The music and spot effects are also excellent and although I didn't have my Amiga wired into my stereo, so I can't tell if the music is stereo or mono, but anyway it's certainly bloody good (though I'd still rather listen to Eric B).

Overall, I spent many hours happily playing with Terrorpods. It has almost everything a good game should, and is certainly one of the best games yet produced for the Amiga (particularly in the UK). If companies such as Microdeal and Psygnosis continue producing games as good as these, the Amiga really does have a chance.