NEBULUS by Richard Karsmakers
Nothing happened. A person made gestures as if to wake up, but
decided rather to turn around and continue doing what he was
doing so nicely and relaxingly: Sleeping.
The sonic volume of the call was somewhat increased this time.
Dreaming about destroying dragons, the person lying quietly in
his bed suddenly startled and looked over his shoulder,
momentarily distracted from the fearsome dragon as if someone had
called him from behind. Nobody was there, and he had trouble
avoiding the flaming breath of the beast due to this short moment
Again, the call was somewhat louder than the one emitted from
the caller's throat some time earlier. In fact, the 'somewhat'
turned out to be somewhat increased, too.
The person, still lying in a deep sleep, was now dreaming about
the anatomy of the vital parts of his lovely wife. The call
penetrated into his dream just at the moment that he was about to
embark on an extensive study of the part of her body of which the
name can often be found in the mouths of people that really have
no right taste of words. She slapped him. He looked up in
amazement as her head grew terrifyingly ugly and she screamed...
"Hey Pogo!!!! The Boss's calling! Will you get your lazy ass out
of that barkin' bed or I will come up and beat you out of it!"
Pogo sat upright, bathing in sweat as he was torn from his very
educational dream that suddenly undertook such a dramatic
metamorphosis. He got out of bed and hurried downstairs.
He apologizingly looked in his wife's eyes with as much of a Tom
Selleck look as he could decently manage as he took the phone
from her hand and gently caressed her tail. She looked at him
pseudo-angrily, tapping her foot on the floor. He was not
unconsiderably relieved to see that she was still as gorgeous as
she had been before he embarked on his 'Anatomy Quest'.
Right now, he had more of a tendency to begin a "Phone
Destruction Quest", but he suppressed this.
"Yeah, good afternoon. Pogo speaking..." said Pogo in the phone,
"what can I do for you?"
On the other end of the line, the person calling clearly didn't
share Pogo's sense of being civil.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?! I am working my butt
off to get you to do something decent and what do you do?! Laying
in that stinkin' bed of yours! Don't you know that you should
have been at the office since..." (the person on the other end of
the line paused. Probably to glance at his wristwatch) "...NINE
this morning! And..." He then started to talk about the moral
codes of the office, small thanks for many pains and more of that
stuff. Pogo took the horn from his ear and winked his eye at his
wife, on whose face he could now faintly discern a smile. He
threw a tiny kiss at her.
He put the horn back to his ear just in time to hear his Boss
recite a piece of poetry:
"Doesn't matter what you see
Or into it what you read
You can do it your own way
If it's done just how I say."
Pogo remembered it faintly. Due to some miraculous reason, it
was contained in the company's flag, and the general tendency was
to recite it to an employee whenever he had done something wrong.
To most people, the Boss reading this piece of poetry had about
the same effect as a Vogon leader being poetic - effects that are
seldom selected in favour of the death penalty by those who know
them. Pogo, however, was quite immune for the consequences.
When the Boss had finished it, Pogo asked: "Can we now perhaps
get down to business?"
At the other end of the line, there was a sudden deafening
silence. Pogo thought he heard some weird sounds and then a
sudden 'thud' that he remembered to have heard before. He put
down the phone.
"I'm needed at the office, sugar," he said as he kissed his wife
on her brow, "it might be a bit later tonight. Don't wait up for
She looked at him with the air of someone that is trying to work
out the Newton forces and their relative vectors while a car is
crashing into her pram into which she had just put a perfect
specimen of her posterity. He had never ever before said this to
her. Was he cheating her with another woman? Had he taken up
talking to strangers? Had he maybe even the intention to buy a
Pogo saw the distress in her adoringly yellow eyes and assured
her that nothing was the matter, that he was still there for her
and nobody else, that there was no other woman, and that he still
didn't talk to strangers. When he saw that there was still a
glimmer of fear left in her little eyes, he hastened to add that
he did not intend to buy a digital watch either.
After leaving his house and closing the door (in fact after
leaving it a second time, 'cause the first time he left he had
forgotten to take his sandwiches deliberately just so he had a
good reason to go back, fetch 'em and hug his wife once more) he
started whistling a tune. Ta da la, tu du lu, it went, and then
had to be repeated until one wanted to stop, one was out of air
or, indeed, deceased.
Somewhere between the zillionth 'du' and 'lu', he entered the
office where he promptly ended it.
He went up to the second floor, and knocked on a door with a
cheap self-adhesive stuck to the outside that said "I'm the
Boss". Since he did not even get a reply after the third time he
knocked (each time somewhat louder - in approximate relation to
the yelling earlier in this story) and since the door was
slightly ajar, too, he decided to walk in and closed the door
There was no Boss or even anyone else to be seen, but there was
something unusual about the room.
Were it the pencils that were scattered on his boss' desk? No.
These were scattered at all times when not in use. Er...they were
scattered at all times.
Was it the Rembrandt replica that hung obliquely above his
filing cabinet? No. It was even more straight than usual.
Were it the flames that came licking from the top of his
wastepaper bin? No. There was usually something burning in
there, since he habitually threw his cigarettes in there without
properly extinguishing them first.
Were it the pieces of lady's underwear that were lying in a neat
track to another door of his boss' office, a door that stood
slightly ajar, too, and behind which also some moaning was to be
heard? That was probably it.
Pogo took a small package from his pocket and looked at the
cover. There was a portrait on it of Lady Justicia, with pieces
of green paper on her scales. He cleared his throat three times
(each time somewhat louder, and each time somewhat nearer to the
door behind which now excited screams concerning velocity and
depth could be clearly heard); one should give the guy a fair
chance. When that didn't result into anything factual, he pushed
a button on a device present in the room, that greeted its
activation with many a Light Emitting Diode popping on and a soft
voice which said: "Thanks for allowing this Cybernetics audio
system to be of any service to you. Please do not forget to push
that same button once I have served my purpose. Thank you."
He then pushed another button, which resulted in a small drawer
slowly buzzing out into the open. He took a small silvery disk
from the package he had in his hand and inserted it neatly onto
the drawer. It fitted as if it was made for such a purpose, which
He closed the drawer and pushed another button.
"POGO! POGO! POGO!" he yelled loudly as violent sounds of
blackened heavy metal were poured out through the ovradially
controlled quadrophonical speaker systems. He banged his head,
jumped around the office that suddenly appeared smaller than it
was, singing aloud with the music that was now probably clearly
to be heard right up to the 34th floor of the building (where a
religious sect called "The Utterly Silent Ones" was having one of
The telephone rang.
Note: You should know that, when people on the planet Quernshal
Epsilon feel that they have come somewhere for nothing, they have
the sudden tendency to play Metallica's "Justice for All" CD at
the loudest obtainable volume. They then start Pogo-ing (banging
their heads, jumping, moshing, feeling really great, whatever);
hence the fact that all inhabitants of this planet are all called
This particular behaviour might strike you as being somewhat
weird, so I suppose I will then not even start to explain what
people on the planet Zargomatic Sigma do when they feel someone
left them on a loo with no toilet paper...
The red head of the Boss appeared through the doorpost. He was
probably saying, or even yelling something, but it remained
inaudible due to certain limitations of the ear when loud music
is being played. Pogo could have laughed his head off when he
would have seen that he was wearing a pair of Cammy knickers. He
didn't, so he couldn't. He was banging his head off, pogo-ing
like mad and acting as if he was holding an electrical guitar.
His Boss pressed a previously unused button on the Cybernetics
Audio tower and then another. The machine said: "Thanks for using
me. It was an extremely humble honour to be allowed to be of
service to you. Thank you." But nobody heard it, as all the ears
present in the office were currently re-adjusting themselves to
normal volumes, with which they had not really been able to cope
The phone rang. Sandals could be heard kicking at the other door
of the office. "Blasphemy!" someone yelled.
"Alright, your point is made, Pogo. I'm sorry. Alright?", the
Pogo rubbed some of his furry skin out of his eyes, and fetched
his tail back from the garbage bin. His tail felt as if it had
just undertaken an involuntary sight-seeing trip to the inside of
a working micro-wave oven, and he wondered how that could be.
He blinked his eyes several times in wonder when he saw his Boss
standing, and particularly when he saw what he was wearing. He
had never seen the man wearing lace before, and he swallowed hard
not to burst out into limitless laughter.
"Honey?! Do you know where you put my French knickers?", a
girl's voice called from behind the door that had earlier been
the barricade for moaning and panting not to be too clearly
audible in the office.
The Boss startled. He looked down. He then went even more red
than he was. So to say: Reddishly, very dark red. Intensely red.
More red than the Swiss flag is red. Pretty red, altogether.
The sandal beating ceased. The noises in the hall faded away in
The Boss disappeared behind the door again and whispered
something to the girl. Pogo could hear her suddenly giggling,
eventually bursting into laughter the likes of which you only
know when you have a kid sister that witnessed you urinate onto
shock wire once.
After a while he came back.
The red had disappeared off his fur, and it was now quite
comfortably blue again. More important for his self-confidence,
he was now wearing some pretty exclusive, imported Bon Giorno
"Your task is simple, Pogo," said the Boss, "I have recently
obtained a massive demolition order. You have to perform it. It
concerns blowing up towers. NO audio system towers!" He added the
latter after seeing a peculiar glimmering in Pogo's eyes, and
seeing his hands quickly reach for his pocket with the
aforementioned silvery disk in it.
Pogo left the office a happier man. His tail waggled joyfully
behind him, still smoking a little. He started to whistle.
Ta da la, tu du lu, it went.
At the other end of the Universe, someone in a small room
listened to the "Justice for All" CD too, slightly banging his
head. But nobody heeded him.
When I first saw Hewson's new game "Nebulus", it immediately
conquered my heart, my soul, my body...my whole being. "Nebulus"
is a game of such incredible originality that I also decided that
it should have an equally original review (with the accent on a
very Douglas Adamsish introduction novelette as you have been
able to read above). I consider my point made. Let's start with
the actual review.
"Nebulus" is original, something that you could already read
above. In the game, you are Pogo, and you have to demolish a
series of towers by setting the explosion mechanism that is
located at every top of those. This sounds simply, but it is
quite difficult and requires a lot of thinking, because those
towers have to be climbed using stairs (some of which a slippery
- well, in fact, even MOST of 'em), more or less hidden passages,
tunnels and even elevating pillars.
During the game, you walk around and up and down the various
towers (tower by tower, so you'll probably won't see much of the
second and the ones thereafter since the first is quite a tough
cookie to conquer for a beginner). The 'walking round' is done in
an incredibly original way. You are always at the front of the
tower, and the tower revolves in three dimensions. You have to
see it to understand it, and believe it, but it's great to see
and very (VERY) realistic.
That's the principle of the game. But everything about the game
There's some pretty mindstupefying artwork, many more than
sixteen colors constantly on the screen, brilliant game
graphics'n'animation (the latter is SMOOTH, too) and very nice
music and sound effects. You arrive in a small submarine at every
tower, and when you are not yet too high up yet you will see the
tower brilliantly reflecting in the water that gently moves at
In between the tower levels, there are bonus levels in which you
have to shoot bubbles at various members of the swimming animals
that have white flesh and that have bones that can stick nastily
in your throat. They promptly startle themselves to death when
they are hit, and collecting one of those dead creatures earns
you more points.
"Nebulus" is brilliantly programmed, extremely well taken care
of and simply very (yes, VERY) nice to play or even to look at
when someone else is playing. I vote for calling this a "GAME OF
THE LAST HALF YEAR OF '88" (the first half is still occupied by
my old time favourite, "Bubble Bobble", alas...)! Words fail.
Value for money: 8
Overall rating: 9
Price: About 80 Dutch guilders
Remark: Uniquely brilliant and original!
Hardware: Color only