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John M. Phillips
1987
Arcade: Platform
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links


68
Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Towering originality from Hewson.

Brave new game formats are rare things these days, and difficult to come up with too. That must make programmer John Phillips a pretty hot property: after the unusual true 3D and sideways motion of Impossaball, he's just delivered this strikingly unusual rotary masterpiece.

The basics of the game are simple stuff indeed: eight cylindrical towers project from the ocean, and you have to destroy them. To do this you must guide your little character Pogo to the top of each tower, causing it to telescope down into the sea. A spiral of platforms, ledges and lifts form your route up the outside of the tower wall, along with several tunnels directly through the tower's axis. It's no picnic: gaps between (and disappearing blocks in the middle of) ledges have to be jumped, and nasties in your path need shooting or dodging.

These immediate problems will have to wait for the first few games, because the chances are you'll just be staring at the screen in wonder. As soon as Pogo starts to move, you'll be struck by the startlingly odd way Nebulus handles his movement around or through the tower. As he walks along ledges the game keeps him in full view by rotating the tower behind him. platforms and all. This 'rotary scroll' is dazzlingly original stuff even on small movements, but Nebulus can do better: if Pogo steps into a tunnel, the tower spins through 180 degrees to show him popping out the other side.

Graphic ingenuity isn't enough by itself of course, but you'll find that the gameplay too is solid stuff. Though based on conventional timing and jumping problems, Nebulus has subtle twists to it that make for real addiction. For one thing, most nasties don't kill you outright: they merely knock you off your ledge, lift or whatever. If you're still fairly low down the tower (or just unlucky) you'll fall into the water and drown, losing one of your three lives.

Once you've climbed to a decent height the worst you have to fear is a tumble onto a lower platform forcing you to cover the same ground again - but this is quite bad enough. You scale each tower against a time limit, so the delay involved in climbing back up can cost you dear as well as drive you wild with frustration. There's a certain amount of slack in the time allotted for each tower, but a few falls soon eat this up and running out will cost you a life.

With practice you can get past (or shoot) the towers' nasties fairly reliably - though the timing can be very demanding in places, especially on the Spectrum version - but that still leaves you with airborne bad-guys to deal with. These flying nasties turn simple problems into death-traps if they appear at the wrong moment. Waiting on lifts or dodging into tunnels can save your bacon here, but you'll need to plan ahead a little.

Nebulus strikes a fine balance between frustration and addiction, and should keep you occupied for months even with only eight towers to climb. Add in the flair and originality of that rotary scroll and you've got a good-looking, playable winner of a game.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

RELEASE BOX
C64/128, £8.95cs, £12.95dk, Out Now
Spectrum £7.95cs, Out Now

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 85/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 80/100
1 month: 70/100
1 year: 20/100


Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/10
IQ Factor: 8/10
Fun Factor: 6/10
Ace Rating: 917/1000

Rating: Great graphics and gameplay give both versions real initial impact, but with only eight towers the fun can't last forever.




PICTURE TEXT

C64: You're the cutesy character in centre screen. You've just used the lift you're on to dodge an airborne nasty (below you) but there's a gap to jump and that bad guy's in the way.

C64: Between towers, you can shoot and catch fish for bonus points. Spectrum owners eat your hearts out!

/PICTURE TEXT


BANNER

SPECTRUM VERSION

Though it obviously can't match the C64 version for colour or sound, the Spectrum Nebulus is very nearly as fast and every bit as addictive. No fish to catch between levels, but it's still a cracker of a game.

¬

C64 VERSION

Bright, smooth and fast-moving, the C64 Nebulus is a joy to behold as well as to play. There's an extra between-levels sequence where you catch fish for bonus points en route to the next tower, but the tremendous parallax graphics and variation of pace this offers are just icing on the cake: the main game's good enough not to need it.

Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 7/10
IQ Factor: 8/10
Fun Factor: 7/10
Ace Rating: 943/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 88/100
1 hour: 92/100
1 day: 92/100
1 week: 85/100
1 month: 70/100
1 year: 30/100

/BANNER

Great graphics and gameplay give both versions real initial impact, but with only eight towers the fun can't last forever.

8/10
4/10
8/10
6/10
917/1000

Banner Text

SPECTRUM VERSION

Though it obviously can't match the C64 version for colour or sound, the Spectrum Nebulus is very nearly as fast and every bit as addictive. No fish to catch between levels, but it's still a cracker of a game.

C64 VERSION

Bright, smooth and fast-moving, the C64 Nebulus is a joy to behold as well as to play. There's an extra between-levels sequence where you catch fish for bonus points en route to the next tower, but the tremendous parallax graphics and variation of pace this offers are just icing on the cake: the main game's good enough not to need it.

Graphics: 9/10

Audio: 7/10

IQ Factor: 8/10

Fun Factor: 7/10

Ace Rating: 943/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 88/100

1 hour: 92/100

1 day: 92/100

1 week: 85/100

1 month: 70/100

1 year: 30/100

Screenshot Text

C64: You're the cutesy character in centre screen. You've just used the lift you're on to dodge an airborne nasty (below you) but there's a gap to jump and that bad guy's in the way.

C64: Between towers, you can shoot and catch fish for bonus points. Spectrum owners eat your hearts out!