RETURN TO GENESIS by Richard Karsmakers
A deep sigh came from the lips of O'Rourke, unwantedly involved
in a mysterious and legendary project called "Clonworld 50" (but
nowadays better known as "The Genesis Project"). He wished he had
never opened that damn file and that he had resigned while he
still could. If only he knew how often he would utter that wish
in later times...
A fog of mysteriousness and myths had always surrounded the
Genesis Project. Nobody had exactly known what it was all about,
when it had happened and whom it concerned. But now he knew. And
he had to rescue those scientists from the evil hands of the
Many years ago (we're talking about the years of the bacterial
revolution here), twelve scientists were cloned and sent to an
artificial carbon-based world in the Zephr region called Genesis,
having but one task: Perform experiments that would be beneficial
to mankind. Without the people on earth ever realising, these men
of science had invented water generation processes, they had
virtually erradicated disease, constructed Amiga busters
(joke)...and lots more. After the invasion by the Mechanauts,
they were cut off and had to be rescued...
That's where good old O'Rourke came in. Did they want to get rid
of him by sending him on this mission that was remarkably equal
to suicide? He had already had his doubts when he read the
briefing that started with all kinds of flattering compliments.
He should have known. Head command people never told anything
good about you until they really needed you. And he had walked
into this clever trap with open eyes! If he could only blame his
vanity, but he couldn't...
Anyway, the stars seemed to flash by as he flew with dazzling
speed towards the Zephr region of the known galaxy. Due to his
high speed, all light faded to the red side of the spectrum,
making him and his craft bathe in a soft, red light. One would
almost start to feel relaxed, was it not that he knew that
something terrible and horrifying was awaiting him in the far
distance. Only his patriotism and his obligation to these great
scientists made him go on.
Down on the planet, a three-eyed creature looked at a small
green blob on a large radar screen. While his middle eye kept on
watching at the display, its other eyes glanced at a fellow-
creature. "That's him", he whispered sadistically, "just wait..."
O'Rourke slowed down as the planet became visible. It wasn't
green like the earth, but very dark brown due to the vast marshes
and immense pools of darkness. This was the planet where these
scientists had lived for over 2000 years. In the back of his
mind, he wondered whether these men would truly still be looking
like the day they went (having undergone some kind of surgery to
stop the ageing process). But no matter what they looked like, if
he didn't find them soon, they would be reduced to the carbon-
like substance the entire planet was made of - especially if it
was up to those damn mutant Mechanauts!
Soon, he flew low over the dark lands. It was just like
Tolkien's Mordor or the swamps of sadness from the "Neverending
Story" - darkness in its purest form, covered with dense
undergrowth and black trees bearing no leaves. "Next thing I'll
see will be Gollum, limping towards the Evil Castle," O'Rourke
thought with a nervous smile around his lips, as he was indeed
met by the sight of the dark silhouette of what seemed to be an
ancient castle. "Damn me!" he thought, "I'll have to be careful
about my thought here!". He looked down as he approached the
castle, appearing huge and frightening like in a nightmare. The
ground seemed to be moving and a closer look learned him that the
vegetation seemed to move....to be alive!
He swallowed something and redirected his undivided attention to
the castle. Just in time, as the three-eyed creatures considered
the time to be right to destroy O'Rourke and diminish the threat
this earthling meant to their everlasting domination of this
previously fair planet - the laboratory of the Genesis
scientists. The dangerous part of O'Rourke's mission had begun as
he noticed flashing steel of laser canons appearing from openings
in the castle walls...
Originally, I thought I couldn't possibly think of a suitable
novel-like intro for the review of Firebird's new game, "Return
to Genesis". As I saw the first graphics appear on the screen (by
Pete Lyon) and as I heard the first music (by David Whittaker),
all inspiration spontaneously left my mind and was replaced by
utter amazement. Steve Bak, the programmer of this new game
(already famous because of the first good and fast vertical
shoot-'em-up: "Goldrunner"), turned out to have been able to
design the first ever SMOOTH & FAST HORIZONTAL shoot-'em-up! As
the corners of my mouth experienced an ever increasing moistening
process, all hopes of being able to write a fitting novel-intro
sank deep into my shoes....
For the second time in my life (the first time being when I met
Willeke again for the first time after a long while, in the
summer of last year...sigh) I felt a great irritation get hold of
me for not being able to get hold of proper words to describe the
pure fantasticism and astounding superbness I saw projected on my
retina, scrolling smoothly by....Other words than "oooh...aaah...
great....wow!" do not enter one's mind on moments like that, and
I must admit that these were also the only words that I could
think of at that moment. In fact, it took me over two weeks to
recover from the shock so that I was still able to try and
capture the sheer magnificence of this game in my clumsy English.
Pete Lyon' graphics, with their familiar and authentical use of
colors, together with David Whittaker's music (though not even
the best I have ever heard of him) and Steve Bak's brilliant
programming capabilities make sure this game will write ST
As I already hinted, "Return to Genesis" is a horizontal shoot-
'em-up game, redefining the boundaries of the ST's capabilities.
It actually is the first game I have ever seen that offers a
multiple-plane smooth scrolling of over 50% of the screen, also
featuring smooth shape movement in an unknown variety. And the
most exciting thing is that it's FAST as well!
You are Group Captain O'Rourke, flying over 10 different
landscapes (each with brilliant and varying background graphics
and enemies) to rescue the twelve scientists. Bonuses are awarded
when you rescue the proper scientists at certain times, and all
else you have to do is to make sure that the Mechanauts don't
blast you into a thousand fragments while performing your task.
With "Return to Genesis", Firebird has once again published a
game of outstanding quality on the ST. And it also proves that
the best programmer on the ST MUST be Steve Bak! "Return to
Genesis"....a thrilling and enchanting experience of mere
amazement and fantastic programming skill, available through
Firebird at £19.95.
Thanks to Ms. Sue Winslow of Telecom Software for getting me into
touch with what may turn out to be the best game of 1988!
64-76 New Oxford Street
London WC1A 1PS
Name: Return to Genesis
Author: Steve Bak
Overall rating: 9
Value for money: 8
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.