C64 Review of Phobia from Issue 51

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


Scared of snakes? Scared of spiders? Scared of being scared? Well, tough cheese, wimpy pacifist you’re about to meet all your deep rooted fears in the biggest mega-battle yet. It seems the Galactic Emperor has gone and got himself captured by some ‘utterly evil' dude by the moniker of Phobos.

The old Emperor has been locked away in a sun and is slowly beginning to cook on Gas Mark 4, to reach him you have to collect together all nine pieces of a heat shield to wrap around your fancy ship.

Where are they you cry? Well, we’ve located the solar system where Phobos hangs out and somewhere on nine of the fifteen planets are the pieces you want. Good old trial and error is the best way to find them but try not to pick wrong — the planets are fiercely defended. Apparently Phobos has built some clever device which latched onto your brain and infested each planet with a different type of phobia. Your very own nightmare’s come to life for you and a friend as well — if you can find someone mad, er, brave enough to join you.

The one bit of good news is that the alien minions of Phobos are as dumb as usual, carrying extra weapons around with them which you can pick up when they die. Just pick up more powerful engines, lasers, bombs and more and you’ll soon be headed Phobos way. If you’re going on your own we will, out of generosity, give you a drone ship. I’m not too sure you’ll be pleased to hear that the drone is linked power-wise to your ship. Basically if it gets hit, you die — tough, but that’s life.

Hope you like tight closed spaces, dentists and Death — you’re going to meet them all. Anyway who said space combat was straightforward? I did? You must be mistaken mate, now get out there and wreak some havoc.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 72%

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Emperor Roscoe - 8 Oct 2008
Horrible game. I think Zzap stuck a single level demo on one of their very rare cover tapes, and that was enough for me. When a game is that hard, knowing you only have to get to the end of one level acts as an incentive. A full game of such awkwardness? No ta! Graphics were nice, sound rather good, but I didn't bother buying it cos I knew that I'd be lucky to escape the first level.

Rating : 60%
SLF - 6 May 2005
I am on the same wavelength of Craig on this one. The idea of an horrific setting for a shmup is nice, as is the implementation of a choose your route facility, but the creatures and levels are quite uninspired and just not gruesome enough. The graphics' quality is nothing to write home about, there're no real power ups, and gameplay is nothing special, even if it improves in two-players mode. With a lot of excellent games of this format on the c64, this just fails to impress.
Graphics, hookability and lastability were overrated.

Rating : 70%
CraigGrannell - 20 Apr 2005
I never really understood why this Sizzled, nor why everyone got so excited about the graphics. Sure, they are colourful, but they're pretty blocky and much of the animation is poor. The gameplay is also a little plodding, if a little better in two-player mode. Generally, I think almost every rating needs to come down by about 20 per cent, including overall.

Rating : 72%
Iain - 14 Apr 2005
I always thought this game was in near black and white, judging by the screenshots in the Zzap review, but I guess Cameron was just having a bad day because the graphics are very bright and colourful.

I haven't played it much but it seems a great shoot 'em up! A bit hard perhaps.

Rating : 88%
Robin Hogg
Tony Crowther returns to grass roots with what must rank as one of the oddest games this side of Jeff Minter. I wouldn’t call the graphics horrific or disturbing, maybe even the Amiga isn’t capable of that, but at least Tony and David haven’t skimped on quality and variety in the aliens. The multiple-level parallax scrolling really does work well and each new, multiloaded level is a real adventure. It all really opens up with the dual player mode and makes for one stunning but very weird shoot-’em-up.
Stuart Wynne
If, somehow, Phobia lacks your greatest fear then be warned the superb gameplay is likely to give you the shivers. On the later levels, survival seems virtually impossible. But high playability, and great graphics are likely to keep you playing. Probably the most impressive planet I’ve seen so far is Death, which is packed with gruesome touches such as skeletons popping out of coffins, guillotines crashing down and decapitated heads turning to skulls as they chase you. Not even the dead could fail to love this one!
Great dual player mode and an attractive in-game map, disappointing title page though.

Not as gory as it might have been but it uses colour to maximum effect. Great space sequences, highly original mother aliens, technically excellent parallax scrolling and with more varied and colourful sprites than there are shoot-’em-ups on the market.

Spot effects provide work effectively together with an intriguing set of background ‘murmuings’ changing with each level. There’s no title tune to speak of but a strangely absorbing rhythmic beat.

Great presentation and relatively simple gameplay make for high instant appeal

Fifteen planets which get tough real quick — even in two player mode it’s very hard going but still totally addictive.

A superlative shoot-’em-up chock a block with colour, graphic detail and scarifying levels.