Commodore 64
John M Phillips
As modern videogame technology continues to offer ever more realistic, immersive 3D environments in which to waggle our joysticks, it's easy to forget that in the not-too-distant past, even basic features such as smooth scrolling were seen as state-of-the-art. With that in mind, it's easy to see why Nebulus caused such a sensation when it was released to the gaming public. A two-dimensional wraparound platformer at heart, Nebulus employs a wonderful rotational effect which gives the illusion that the game is being played around the outside of a cylindrical tower. As our hero waddles to the left and right, the tower rotates accordingly as do its inhabitants and bits of attached scenery.

The hero of the game (let's call him Rodney) has been set the unenviable task of destroying eight mysterious, booby-trapped, alien-infested towers by scaling each in turn and detonating a bomb from the very top. An assortment of dumb aliens patrol the towers and must be avoided if Rodney is to live long enough to complete his task. A sort of two-legged frog, Rodney can jump short distances and (get this, girls) fire laser bolts from his groin area. Rodney's ammo is potent against only some of the foes he will encounter, and though it will destroy some aliens and freeze others, the more hardy of Rodney's opponents will simply point and laugh much to poor old Rodders' embarrassment.

Jeering martians are not Rodney's only worry as the road to the top of each tower is a treacherous one. Slippery edges, falling platforms and moving stairs, along with an ever-ticking timer, all conspire to make Rodney's quest that bit more difficult.

Each time Rodney successfully destroys a tower, he gets to take part in a little sub-game which sees our amphibian hero piloting a submarine shooting and collecting fish for extra points. Why fish you may ask? I'm not sure. Maybe he just does it for the halibut. Sorry, I couldn't resist ...

Beware lest he unleashes his power balls of destruction ...

With no arms, how on earth does he control that

Tricky this bit. Especially if that annoying flying thing appears ...

Despite progress being largely dependent on the player's ability to remember the layout of each tower, Nebulus is a surprisingly compelling excursion. The level of difficulty is set just about right, and I have yet to reach a tower that appears impossible or is frustrating enough to annoy. The towers are all well laid out and require lateral thought as well as fast reflexes to complete. I'm not too keen on the sub-game which is far from enthralling, but at least it allows a few extra points to be racked up which always helps when trying to grab an extra life. Aesthetically, the main talking point in Nebulus is obviously the awesome rotation effect which definitely adds a new slant to the gameplay and overall, the graphics are slick, colourful and well animated. Sound is not quite up to the same standard, but is far from terrible - the title tune isn't too bad and spot effects are appropriate if nothing else. Overall, Nebulus is a highly polished and playable platformer, let down only slightly by its linear gameplay.

Graphics: 94%

Sound: 70%

Gameplay: 85%

Overall: 86%
Amazing rotation effect, smoothly animated sprites and good use of colour. A catchy if unremarkable title tune and fitting spot effects. Surprisingly addictive despite its pattern-learning gameplay. Not sure if I would come back to it once completed, but the challenging later levels ensure that won't be for a while yet. A polished, playable platformer with plenty of unique features which seperate it from the crowd.
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Tower Toppler (Atari 7800)

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