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.
- "ポピュラス" -- Japanese spelling
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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).
- 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.
Information also contributed by
- 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