One leg in a cast-iron pan
One bone or two, too
One tea spoon of cerebral matter
And what do you get?
Dlarah Nievs, the Long Haired Lazy Fool
ST SOFTWARE REVIEW: GODS BY RENEGADE
AND THE TRUTH OF THE BULLFROG TEAM AND THEM JOINING RENEGADE
(God, how I hate the Bitmap Brothers)
by Richard Karsmakers
Those of you who are easily offended in religious matters should
refrain from reading the following. Please skip the introductory
novel and get down to the review bit immediately.
It was completely dark in a very blackened way.
No sound had the nerve to penetrate this eerie darkness, as if
nature itself was afraid even to whisper a sigh or rustle a leaf.
Suddenly, quite strangely but very explicitly, a vague
appearance of light seemed to arise at the horizon - only there
was no horizon for it to appear above of.
Indeed, there was nothing at all. Even as the size and intensity
of the light increased it did not shine on anything, for there
was nothing for it to shine on. Nothing that could whisper, no
leaf that could rustle.
The light came closer and closer, and soon became easily
discernible. It was, remarkably, emanated from eight old men
dressed in white robes that seemed to float miraculously through
the nothingness around them. They had halos around their bearded
They were the Ancient Gods.
"Hey, Zeus," one of them said, "if this is nøt the perfect spøt
I am nøt called Ødin."
There was a moment's silence.
"Well," the God called Zeus replied, hesitating, "I am not sure.
That patch of nothingness about half a light year back seemed
particularly promising if you ask me."
"WITH RESPECT," another God imposed in a bulging voice, trying
to adjust his robe that allowed his giant belly to peer out, "BUT
ODIN DOES HAVE A POINT THERE."
"Excuse me, dear sirs," a God called Jahweh said, "but I think I
might be prone to agree rather wholeheartedly with our dear
colleague Buddha; Odin could just maybe have somewhat of a point
there, I reckon, methinks."
"Me too agree," a God called Allah said, "Odin no deserve head
chopped off. Odin right. Yeah!"
Only Thor refused to add anything to the Gods' comments.
Clearly, he could not have anything against the choice of this
particular patch of nothingness, but he could not possibly agree
with his father on anything. Just as a matter of principle.
Zeus, who was clearly the God of the Gods, floated in the
nothingness thoughtfully. It was obvious that the others wanted
him to make the final decision, and they all looked at him
expectantly - only Odin was adamant he was right, and feigned to
study a particular patch of nothingness at quite a distance from
the God of Gods.
Zeus nodded slowly, approvingly.
"Hey," Odin said, "I tøld you this was it! I never made a
mistake beføre, except maybe før that dratted...."
He broke off abruptly, looking at his son with an annoyed
expression on his worn face, as if remembering old grief.
"Would you please cut it down, if you wouldn't mind, fellows?"
another God said, "I would like to believe we were put on earth
for love, or at least I think I am lead to believe this,
possibly. Maybe it might be a good idea if I...er...we, that is,
if we sat down and maybe think of some constructive things for a
chance, possibly, methinks."
"Me too agree," a reply came, "Jahweh no deserve head chopped
off. Jahweh right. Yeah!"
"LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS, SHALL WE?" Buddha bellowed,
flapping his very long earlobes.
"Methinks our dear colleague Buddha is right, don't you think,"
Jahweh said, "I will therefore be as bold as to take an
initiative - if you do not disagree against this, that is, which
I think you might not..."
"Cut it, Jahweh," Zeus said, "get down to the real thing, man.
Jahweh was quite unprepared there. He had, in all his modesty,
never actually believed he would be allowed to set the first
step. The first step of the creation of Life, The Universe And
The First Step.
His brain was so occupied by the sheer realisation that he was
allowed to perform the First Step that he totally forgot to
breathe. Only when he nearly fainted did he get back to the
reality that consisted of a vast nothingness with eight old Gods
that happened to be miraculously floating in it.
He inhaled deeply.
"Well, I think it would probably maybe be a good idea, I think,
if perhaps I was to..."
"Jesus Christ, Jahweh," Zeus said, "be concise if you will!"
It was clear in the look of Allah's eyes that he couldn't agree
more with this statement by the God of Gods. He wasn't even
certain any more whether Jahweh no longer deserved to have his
head chopped off.
This God now inhaled deeply again, filling his lungs with
boldness as it were.
"Let there be light!" he cried with all the power he could put
in his voice, and with all the power he could put in his voice he
And there was light.
He was amazed at the feat he had just now performed, and
astonished gasps indicated that his colleagues were just as
"A neat trick," Zeus commented.
"Bøldly døne, dear cølleague," Odin said.
"WOW. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS!" Buddha said, flopping his huge
belly back under his thick leather belt.
"Jahweh no deserve head chopped off! Jahweh done right! Yeah!"
Allah added emphatically.
"Gasp," Thor could not refrain from gasping, even though he had
been trying to prevent himself from showing any outwards signs of
being content with the selection of this particular patch of
nothingness by his father.
They now all looked at Jahweh, expecting more. Jahweh looked
inquiringly at the God of Gods.
"You've got to finish what you started, old pal," Zeus said,
stifling a chuckle of amusement.
Jahweh drew a breath even deeper than the one before. Before he
had the chance to pronounce a syllable, however, Buddha
"JAHWEH, OLD PAL," the full-figured God belched while once more
repositioning his enormous bulk, "WOULD YOU CARE FIRST CREATING
SOME NICE CHAIRS FOR US TO SIT AND WATCH?"
Jahweh, much like a magician, snapped his fingers, and his
fingers snapped Jahweh much like a magician. The Gods gasped once
more as neat, sturdy, fashionable leather chairs appeared under
their bottoms with a puff of smoke, miraculously floating in the
vast, light-shed nothingness much in the way they had floated in
it themselves mere moments before. Buddha's seat had special
anti-grav pillows located on it.
"MAYBE SOMETHING TO DRINK TOO?" the fat God ventured.
A bottle of Plantiac, hence to be known as The Divine Fluid,
appeared floating next to the Gods, with six glasses.
Now Jahweh took an extremely, utterly deep breath, and an
utterly deep breath Jahweh took now. A breath of such depth that
his colleagues for a moment feared he might explode - as if he
had eaten one mint tablet too many.
And so it came to pass that, by the time Jahweh had lost the
last bit of his breath, six days of intense creation had gone by.
The Gods found themselves bobbing gently in their chairs high
above a huge planet, wondering at what they saw around them in
what had been infinitely vast and blindingly dark nothingness but
The firmament above their astonished heads was filled with suns,
moons, stars and milkyways. The planet below them was filled with
trees, plants, rivers, creatures of all sizes and sorts, oceans,
mountains....generally everything that Jahweh's immeasurable
fantasy had been able to come up with.
He had even given something that he called a soul to a
particular kind of creature that happened to look very much like
themselves (well, with the exception of Buddha of course).
With a sign of his hand, Jahweh told his colleagues not yet to
applaude. He was not yet finished.
He breathed deeply, and deeply he breathed.
"And I proclaim the seventh day as a day of rest," Jahweh
panted finally. He conjured up another neat chair and seated
himself in it, totally tired and worn.
"I wøuld nøt have cønsidered yøu capable øf this, dear
cølleague," Odin said, firmly patting Jahweh on the shoulder.
"WELL DONE, OLD CHAP," Buddha burped while trying to move his
fat rear end into a more comfortable position, "AND THE DRINK WAS
"Me too agree!" Allah cried enthusiastically, "Jahweh no deserve
head chopped off! Jahweh OK geezer! Yeah!"
"OK," Zeus said, his voice ringing with delight, "now let's find
a nice spot down there to sit and play bridge."
"Gods" is supplied on two double sided disks, in a somewhat
sober packaging. Apart from those disks, the box contains a
manual in four languages (English, German, French, Italian) and a
The first disk contains the program intro (digit music and a
picture) and the actual program code, while the second contains
the level data. The plot is relatively straightforward: A long
time ago the Gods built a citadel that got conquered by the
forces of evil. The Gods got kinda angry with that, and announced
that he who could free their citadel could wish anything he
wanted. Of course, the hero barged in there and asked for
immortality - to become a God himself.
The Gods are now kinda eager for this hero not to win, as there
are enough Gods already and an extra would only make life more
complicated - besides, they would then have an odd number which
isn't likely to improve their game of bridge.
So you take on the role of the hero, who has to take on the
challenge of ridding the four levels of the citadel of the four
guardians roaming there, and the enormous amount of monsters that
assist them. Each level is sub-divided in three 'worlds'.
"Gods" is an arcade-adventure-puzzle-platform-shoot-'em-up,
where you'll have to find additional weaponry, collect the keys
to hidden treasure rooms (as well as the most important key, a
golden one that opens the end of each world), and solve many
Of course, you don't have an easy case there, as the first
worlds with the first couple of puzzles are still rather easy,
but then suddenly difficulty takes a quantum leap and you find
yourself in enormous mazes that will require extensive mapping -
solving puzzles that will require extensive thinking.
And then, of course, there's the monsters. As more worlds get
left behind, these grow to be...intelligent...
Of all the articles covering "Gods" that have been published,
especially those before the program's release, none failed to
mention the fact that the monsters were supposed to be
'intelligent'. They can seek you out, and will appear on certain
locations only when something specific has happened.
"In ordinary games," so a Bitmap Brother sayeth, "monsters are
of the kind that walks steady patterns, shooting at you. They're
just sitting around to be blasted."
"Gods" was not to be like that, and they have kept their
promise. Although the 'intelligence' is limited to the monsters
occurring only after specific events have or have not happened as
well as the dodging of your shots on higher levels, "Gods" is
surely a lot better than the usual game with those cannon fodder
Although the English press had grossly exaggerated the
intelligence, the monsters are actually smarter to some degree.
Not a bad idea, really, and it gives you the idea that you're
conquering a 'smart' enemy rather than some simple logics behind
moving shapes on a computer screen. At higher levels, nasty
enemies steal things and then try to stay out of your grasp -
even evading your bloody fire!
At least you (that is, if you're going to play the game) have to
be intelligent - very much so.
The puzzles start off real easy, with handles you have to pull
that are located precisely next to what you're supposed to pull
them for (for doors to open or obstacles to be removed, for
example). But very quickly difficulty increases so that you have
to pull handles (or not pull them) at various spots in the level
in order to accomplish certain facts elsewhere. The monsters tend
to get more of a pain in the posterior too, as one proceeds.
The level maps become very big as well. While exploring the
vastness of the citadel, you will find nooks and crannies filled
with bonuses, treasure rooms (that need a silver key to be
opened). teleporting crystals, more powerful weapons...
"Gods" is a very extensive game, that will have you playing it
for hours and hours before you're likely to find yourself in in a
position to complete it.
At completing the first world of level 2-4 you get a password.
You do not get a password at the completion of one level! This is
kinda frustrating at first, but really urges the player on. As
the game prompts you to de-write-protect the second disk to save
the hiscores and the passwords, this leads me to believe that the
passwords are individually generated and stored on the disk the
first time you use the game with a non-write-protected disk 2.
Then again, it may just be a bit of userfriendliness on the
behalf of the Bitmaps, as the hiscore list automatically also
displays all passwords you have a right to know.
In standard English: You might just not be possible to exchange
cheat codes between different copies of the game. And I'm not
even going to say the passwords I know just in case, as I feel it
would spoil the fun of the game.
Clever! (but not nice)
The Graphics (please note the capital 'G', folks!)
You may have noticed that I have carefully avoided one thing so
far: What does the game look like?
Well, if we're talking about looks, we're talking about the Most
Beautiful Graphics yet to surface on 16 bit computers. They have
been done by the Bitmap Brothers' most carefully protected Trade
Secret: Mark Coleman. Rumour goes that this Man is tucked away
somewhere in Wales, never appearing in public because the Bros
are too frightened another company will try to buy Him away.
The reason is obvious. The Man is a Supreme Graphic Artist,
worshipped by pixel manipulators from all over the world (and
don't you think I'm exaggerating). Everything fades away in
comparison with what He does. I know lots of people who would
unreservedly rid Him of His shoes to start vigorously kissing His
feet - even in public.
With the graphics He did for "Gods", He has produced yet another
masterpiece. They are truly breathtakingly beautiful, causing you
to play the game more as if it were a movie or real life rather
than a computer platform game. It urges the player on to find out
what more there is to see.
"Gods" is a very nice platform game that needs quite a healthy
dose of intelligence on the player's behalf. Although not all the
hype has turned true a lot of it has, resulting in it being a
good game by all means - not least of all because of the Divine
Graphics (I cannot stress this enough). The 'intelligence' of the
monsters, though limited, does add to the gameplay. In the
beginning it is just a very good game, but as you proceed through
the level it becomes, excuse my words, fucking impressive. The
puzzles are smart, the program is brilliant. Everything, really.
The joystick controls, however, are not quite perfect. It is
difficult to get on and off stairs quickly (getting off usually
results in you having to jump off, which is not always healthy).
Turning around while you're shooting and shooting while you're
walking is also impossible, which makes the game harder than
necessary. Because of the clever game design (minimal loading
times) and the Great Pixels, one tends to forget that, however.
At least the controls do not render the game unplayable - that
would have been unforgivable.
"Gods" is a game that will offer you hours and hours of fun, and
it's surely worth every bit of money you shell out for it - and
not for the dedicated freaks only. Though not as good as
"Lemmings" (which doesn't mean "Gods" is bad, but it only means
"Lemmings" is just a bit more flippin' brilliant), it is surely
one of the best games to appear this year.
Authors: The Bitmap Brothers
Graphics: 10 (sigh...Divine!!)
Value for money: 9
Overall rating: 9
Hardware: Colour monitor, joystick
Remark: Joystick controls not perfect...
I would like to close this review down with a bit of writing
about Renegade, a software label that I think deserves anyone's
support. Let me explain why.
It is a strange yet common phenomenon in the software world that
the consumer tends to buy a piece of software because it's
published by a certain company. Of course, this is quite
ridiculous - one would hardly buy a CD because it's done by
Polydor or EMI, would one?
To change this all, Renegade was formed. Renegade is the
software division of Rhythm King Records (of Betty Boo fame).
They just wanted to combine their music marketing strategies with
the productivity of nice programming teams, and that's why they
attracted the Bitmap Brothers.
Renegade products do not have the name 'Renegade' written all
over them. Instead, it's the name 'Bitmap Brothers' written all
over "Gods", for example, which is justified as the Bitmaps are
the ones doing most work.
That's why I think Renegade products deserve our support. I hope
you agree. Your views upon this subject are welcome at the
Bullfrog joins Renegade?
When Renegade had just started, around the end of last year,
there was an interesting rumour going around in the industry: The
Bullfrog Team was supposed to have joined Renegade.
Of course this would have been great - two of the best and most
influential programming teams marketed by Renegade, a label
that's trying to establish a new and better marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, the rumour turned out to be wishful thinking.
Electronic Arts vigorously underlined this fact by the fact that
the Bullfrogs were doing "Populous II" for them.
When I had a chance to speak briefly with the Bullfrog guys on
last April's European Computer Trade Show, however, I couldn't
resist asking them whether or not they had joined Renegade - and
in case they hadn't yet I asked if they were planning to.
"No," Les Edgar of the Bullfrog team said, apparently
complimented by my question, "we have not yet planned to do so."
It took no gifted person to notice the word yet, which, I even
seem to recall, had a subtle bit of emphasis on it.
Of course, before I completely sign off here, I would like to
thank the Bitmap Brothers for the review copy. Cheers to you,
guyz! I have found myself playing this game quite a lot: The
evenings that I do not play a game nowadays are rare, and the
sessions are about equally split up between "Lemmings" and "Gods"
(on a whole, that is).
I would also like to extend my thanks to my current employer,
ACN, who actually got the review copy and allowed me to review it
for them (so that I could automatically review it for ST NEWS as
well). This was also the case with "Defender II" (though they
didn't do the review 'cause they considered the program to be too
old) and "Lemmings", by the way.
Cheers to you, too!
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.