SOFTWARE REVIEW: POWERMONGER BY ELECTRONIC ARTS/BULLFROG TEAM
by Alex Crouzen
Once upon a time there was a land that had known many forms of
despair. It had lived happily in times of peace, yet had also had
war with a strange tribe that came from land created by divine
Then, afer another divine intervention had rudely crushed the
invaders' plans by creating a swamp under their feet, they had a
few more years of that precious peace. But then the land suddenly
suffered a number of strange transformations. The leaders of the
village sent out a party to fulfill a holy quest.
This party was lead by the terrible Cronos Warchild and ended
abruptly when the lecherous smith of the village assailed Cronos
Warchild's bride-to-be after having removed her chastity belt.
Cronos slaughtered the whole village and continued on his quest
for a locksmith, because Loucynda had slipped it on again during
Only one of the villagers survived, and only because he was
miles away, drinking from large pools of Plantiac while looking
"By the beard of Drag the Itty one! I say we return and claim
what is rightfully ours!" Drahcir the Metallic One bellowed
across the table whilst jamming his knife into its wood.
"But we would have to cross hundreds, nay, thousands of leagues
before we reach the Pool of the Divine Liquid!" Iole the
Calculating One stammered back, "We would be crushed even before
we could cross the Mountains of Indifference!"
"Who Cares?" the whole gathering murmered as one.
"Indeed! Who cares?!" Drahcir asked everyone, "Who does? I do!
And may I be struck down if Drag the Itty one doesn't care, too!"
He said down, trying to put extra weight in his words.
Out of the sky a large duck swooped, looking insanely witty, and
nearly missed the nearly bald head of Drahcir.
"Damn!" sounded an immeasurable witty voice from the skies.
"A Sign!" someone at the far end of the table yelled.
"Yes...a sign..." Drahcir whispered in shock while he probed the
top of his head with his hands, shaking visibly.
All stormed towards the temple and knelt before the idol of Drag
the Itty one (The wise men of the temple had argued long years
about what 'Itty' actually meant. The finally settled for 'he who
has lost something' after both sides were severely decimated
because one of the participants had mistook a bottle of DDT for
"The Itty one has given us a sign!" Avohej the Religious One
chanted, "He has ordered us to send a force to the Lost Land and
recapture the Holy Pool of Divine Liquid! The Itty one has also
given us a name, appointed by the Holy Duck! We will send Drahcir
forth with a force of... EIGHT MEN!"
"Eight men?" Drahcir gasped. "But...but..."
"Be silent!" Avohej retorted, "We know you want to thank the
Itty one desperately, but he has ordered you go immediately. May
the Itty One be praised!"
"May the Itty One be praised!" the gathering cheered, with the
exception of one speechless bald warmaster.
"Scout!" the bald warmaster bellowed.
"Yessir?" the young man standing next to him yelped.
"What is our status?"
"Erm, we're at the most north-western island of the continent.
Our complete force..." the scout began officially.
"Of eight men" Drahcir muttered under his breath.
"...is stationed in our current stronghold..."
"Which happens to be a cow-shed," another mutter added.
"...and our current objective is at just two hours' walking
Drahcir lowered his head and clamped it between his hands. He
sighed and asked in a low voice: "And does anybody know what that
One of the gathered soldiers (seven in all!) stepped forward and
stuck out his chin. "The current objective is a nearby village
"Consisting of TWO HUTS AND A COWSHED!!!!" the now-reddened
warmaster almost screamed. "WHY ME?"
"The young man looked puzzled and said timidly "But you ARE the
warmaster sir, who else?
Well, quite a short introductory novella eh? I have ample
excuses for that though, so don't start complaining. I flunked
two exams the last two weeks, so I should be the one complaining.
Two weeks ago I got the (doubtfull?) honour from Mr. Karsmakers
to write the review/novella to "Powermonger", and he wanted it
before two weeks were over. Oops? The first few lines were
finished in two minutes, but the rest of the article took the
best of 2 weeks to ferment into what it is now.
But enough of this idle banter old chaps, let's get on with the
"Powermonger", the latest game from the 'Populous' series by the
Bullfrog Team, can be seen as a direct evolution of the
"Populous" theme. They state in the manual that they had the idea
for this game while they were writing "Populous". Quite a tall
order, but they completed it with style.
In "Powermonger" you are just that, a Powermonger. You have been
usurped from your ruling position in the land, and have been
driven out of it. But now the land is divided once more, and
three other warlords control it. You are going to use the
dividedness of the land to conquer it again... But the land is
vast: 195 territories are waiting to be captured. Luckily for the
player of this game you don't have to win them all, just capture
the bottom-right one and you have won.
But you start in the upper-left corner. And that is the only one
you can conquer at the beginning of the game. If you succeed at
that one, you can try one of the neighbouring territories. The
territories increase in difficulty the closer you get to the last
one, but the first ones will keep you busy for quite a while if
you are starting.
When you start to conquer a territory, you begin in a stronghold
somewhere on the piece of land. You have 8 or 10 followers and
the thing you have to accomplish is to own at least 1/2 of the
land, with every extra bit helping to decide the end result.
The capturing bit is done by giving your commander(s) orders,
which he (or they) will relay to his (or their) men. When you
first start in a territory you have one commander: Yourself. But
it is possible to find men that are loyal enough to be
Orders to be given to them are: Attack, Get Men, Get Food, Drop
Food, Supply Food, Invent, Equip Invention, Drop Invention,
Derank and Send Captain.
These orders can be given in 3 intensities: Passive, Neutral or
Aggressive. Combinations of these will do different things.
Aggressive Attacking will kill every inhabitant of a settlement,
Passive inventing will only invent non-aggressive items (Boats,
These actions are a bit difficult to explain, because you have
to see them for proper understanding. But with them you can form,
supply and direct your whole army.
Other options are Spy, Alliance, Trade, Go Home and Transfer
The best thing about "Powermonger", however, is its attention
to detail. Every little thing in the world has a name, location,
and status. People have a name, their health, a loyalty, a
degree of agression and a task. These tasks can be decided by you
or other lords who happen to have their loyalty. Trees have
names, just like sheep, dead sheep, boats, houses, birds -
The Graphics are superb. You can zoom into the action and
everything will grow in accordance with the zoom. Everything but
the men though, which is a pity. Ground drawings change
constantly to give a natural appearance, and turn white in the
winter, brown in the fall and green again in spring time. The
drawings of the general(s) are nice and smooth, and the buttons
Sound is scarce, but functionally so. If a flock of birds
suddenly flies away, crying, then it is possible another army is
close. Your men will shout 'Yeah' in different volumes to sound
their agreement or disagreement ("yeah...", "Yeah", "YEAH" or
The only 'major' flaw in the game is the playing speed between
territories. It will take about 30 to 60 seconds between worlds
to get started again.
My opinion of the game is that it is possible to thoroughly dig
into it to enjoy it... If you have time. That is my only
criticism. It takes DAYS to get anywhere near the end of the
game, and it got a bit repetitive after 20 sessions of the same
territory (yes, it is possible to save the game, but I didn't
notice that until the 5th session :-( ).
So, taking all this into consideration, I'd propose the
following game rating:
Company: Electronic Arts
Sound: Quality: 6 / Functionality: 9
Hookability With job: 5 / Without job: 8
Value for money: 8
Overall rating: 8
Price: ? (about 70 Dutch guilders at a
Hardware: Colour monitor, DS drive (SS drive
version offer included)
What I forgot: Two player mode, password type
On the behalf of the me, I have to admit two grave sins here.
1) I currently have a job, and I didn't have the time I had when
I began this article, so the last bit is a bit weak.
2) I was TOTALLY sober when I wrote this, so there won't be any
brilliant sentence constructions in here.
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.