Populous

Critic Score User Score
Windows
...
4.5
Genesis
88
3.7
Acorn 32-bit
...
4.5
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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 DOS Basic stats for the world you are about to play
Populous TurboGrafx-16 Fight!
Populous TurboGrafx-16 Time to dismount mointain
Populous Atari ST A small village.

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 (3013)

Critic Reviews

The One for ST Games Atari ST Oct, 1991 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
The One Amiga Apr, 1989 95 out of 100 95
Computer and Video Games (CVG) SEGA Master System Sep, 1991 92 out of 100 92
Power Play Atari ST Jun, 1989 92 out of 100 92
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Genesis Nov, 1990 910 out of 1000 91
The Games Machine (UK) Atari ST Jun, 1989 90 out of 100 90
Video Games SEGA Master System Feb, 1991 88 out of 100 88
High Score Macintosh May, 1994 4 out of 5 80
PC Player (Germany) DOS Apr, 1994 80 out of 100 80
Computer Gaming World (CGW) DOS Jun, 1993 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60

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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

  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (Issue #00) - #6 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
  • 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
  • EMAP
    • Golden Joystick Rewards 1990: Winner Most Original Game.
  • 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
    • January 1990 (Issue #06) - Included in the list 50 Games of the Year
    • May 1990 (Issue #10) - Included in the list "ST Format's 30 Kick-Ass Classics"
    • August 1991 (Issue #8) – #14 Top Atari ST Classic Games (Editorial staff vote)
Information also contributed by ElectricMonk and PCGamer77
Contributed to by PCGamer77 (3013), Tibes80 (1495), wishbringer (5551), Terok Nor (20159), Parf (7315), MAT (97912), Belboz (6489) and Rantanplan (1686)