Less than 150 games needed to reach our MobyGoal of 1,500 documented arcade titles!

Populous

MobyRank MobyScore
Acorn 32-bit
...
4.0
SEGA Master System
84
3.7
DOS
...
3.6
Not an American user?

Description

You play a god, gaming against other gods in a celestial game of conquest. To win, you must help your chosen people take over the world and wipe out the vermin who worship that other god.

Each god starts out with a single human, dumped into the middle of the wilderness. Sometimes there is inhabitable land in sight, sometimes not. To get a chance to win, you must change the landscape, creating flat land for your followers to build on. The more followers you have, the more powerful you will be, so take care of them. Build as fast as you can, because the other god is doing the same.

When you have enough followers, you can make the leader of your people into a hero. He will then go around the land you have built, literally taking strength from the people into himself, and working his way toward the enemy. When he gets there, he will engage in holy warfare upon your enemy's people. He will burn; he will kill. And he won't stop until they're all dead... or he is.

But you don't have to let your people have all the fun; the gods have other tools as well. You can drown your enemies one at a time with your land lowering powers, submerge their towns in swamps, or raise a volcano in the middle of their best farmland. Even better, you can flood the land and drain all the people who didn't build on high ground.

And when you win, you'll have 500 more worlds to conquer. A god's play is just never done.

Screenshots

Populous TurboGrafx-16 Options
Populous Genesis The story
Populous SEGA Master System Story
Populous PC-98 Scenario description

Alternate Titles

  • "ポピュラス" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

The Molyneaux god-complex begins here, for better and for worse. DOS PCGamer77 (3028)

The Press Says

ST Format Atari ST May, 1991 95 out of 100 95
Your Amiga Amiga Jul, 1989 93 out of 100 93
Power Play Atari ST Jun, 1989 92 out of 100 92
Amiga Action Amiga Jan, 1992 92 out of 100 92
The Games Machine (UK) Amiga Apr, 1989 90 out of 100 90
Video Games SEGA Master System Feb, 1991 88 out of 100 88
Sega-16.com Genesis Sep 25, 2006 8 out of 10 80
1UP! SNES Feb 04, 2006 79 out of 100 79
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) SEGA Master System Nov, 1991 9 out of 12 75
Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) SNES Nov, 1991 4.8 out of 10 48

Forums

There are currently no topics for this game.


Trivia

1001 Video Games

Populous appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Cross-platform multiplayer

One of the few games produced during the first 15 years of the PC gaming industry that allowed modem or serial-cable gameplay across different platforms (ie the PC version could play a game over a modem with the Amiga version).

Development

  • During the design phase, LEGO was used to build landscapes so that the game could be visualized before it was programmed.
  • This was one of the few games of it's time to be written mostly in C. Most games of the time on the Atari ST and Amiga were written in 100% machine-code.
  • At one stage during development, a nasty hard-drive crash deleted most of the game. Fortunately, this did not stop the developers from starting anew. In fact, this was a blessing in disguise, as the new implementation was much faster than the old implementation.
  • It was only decided that Populous would be about gods when somebody from a magazine came over, looked at it and said "so it's a bit like being a god". Before that, there was no plot to explain what was going on, and after that comment, the whole plot had a direction.

Unreleased versions

64'er magazine released some mysterious shots of an apparent Commodore 64 conversion in 1991, and Paul Hughes was also asked to produce an official C64 version, but neither of these were ultimately finished.

Simon Cooke attempted to convert the game to the SAM Coupé system in 1991, but this also went unreleased.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • September 1990 (Issue #74) - Strategy Game of the Year
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #30 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #23 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1990 - Best Computer Gaming in 1989
    • Issue 01/1990 - Best Game Idea in 1989
    • Issue 01/1990 - Best Strategy Game in 1989
  • ST Format
    • August 1991 (Issue #8) – #14 Top Atari ST Classic Games (Editorial staff vote)
Information also contributed by ElectricMonk and PCGamer77
Contributed to by PCGamer77 (3028), Tibes80 (1495), wishbringer (5552), Terok Nor (18355), Parf (7292), MAT (71289), Belboz (6553) and Rantanplan (1711)