C64 Review of Nebulus from Issue 32

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


On the planet Nebulus, trouble is brewing. Some one has been building giant towers in the sea without planning permission, and Destructo Inc has been given the job of demolishing them. The player takes the role of the unfortunate worker who has been given the mission.

The demolition expert arrives at the bottom of each tower by submarine. He's a typical Nebulese; a fat, little green biped capable of jumping and firing energy blobs.

To successfully destroy a tower, the worker reaches the top within a set time limit. This is easier said than done, and requires the worker to negotiate a series of platforms, steps, lifts, and doors which run all the way around the outside of the building. The action is displayed in 3D, with the tower rotating as the worker walks around its exterior. Walking up steps, or using lifts to reach a higher level makes the screen scroll vertically.

The worker's progress up the tower is hindered by a variety of obstructions, ranging from bouncing balls and rotating aliens to flashing wall blocks and flying eyeballs. Bouncing balls and flashing blocks are destroyed by energy blobs, while all other hazards are avoided. Failure to dodge any moving object, or stepping onto a disappearing platform results in the worker falling. He's a hardy beast and is able to drop any distance, as long as a plattorm breaks his fall. However, dropping into the sea is fatal, and one of his five lives is lost. A life is also lost if the time limit expires before the top of the tower is reached.

When the highest door is entered, the tower is destroyed and sinks rapidly into the sea. The worker reboards his mini-sub, and enters a horizontally scrolling bonus level where he attempts to catch fish by firing air bubbles at them. After this brief interlude, he is deposited at the base of the next tower to continue his work. There are eight towers in all, each requiring a different strategy to complete them.

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 : 92%

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Rick - 10 Jul 2004
Without a doubt this is a gaming triumph. Superbly designed in all quarters, with excellent gameplay. Not for pussies though, it gets tough!

Rating : 90%
CraigGrannell - 10 Dec 2003
Because of the tower rotation, this simple platform game became much more. The graphics were stunning for the time, but it's the gameplay that really shines, at least until the later levels, which are stupidly difficult.

Rating : 93%
SLF - 9 Dec 2003
I never really fell in love with this one. Probably that's because I'm no puzzles lover, and at the time I found the game too difficult. This doesn't mean I cannot see its big qualities, especially now that I can make it to the 6th tower (and not struggle for the 2nd as back then). The concept is great. The graphics are among the best ever seen in any c64 game (especially the towers' rotation and Pogo's animation; enemy sprites are not very good tho'). And the playability is very good, even if the game still fails to properly grab me. A Classic, although not in the list of my personal faves.
pr 70 gr 97 so 77 ho 85 la 90

Rating : 93%
Julian Rignall
There's no doubt about it, Nebulus is sheer inspiration it's completely original and beautifully designed, and I defy anyone to play it and keep their cool. Not since Boulderdash has a game been so playable and frustrating. Each level has been brilliantly thought out, so that you always get a little bit further with every go. However, when you just begin to think you're doing well, some horrible trap or puzzle claims that last life, and you have to start all over again. This gameplay is incredibly rewarding, but never quite satisfying enough, so you have to return for 'just another go'. Consequently, once you start playing it's very difficult to stop work completely ground to a halt in the office! The marvellous gameplay is supported by some incredible graphics. The 3D rotational effect is absolutely amazing, and the main sprite is superbly animated. Even the sound effects are good! Nebulus is a wonderful combination of platform action and mind-bending puzzles, and offers days of solid play buy it at your peril.
Steve Jarratt
I often find it amusing how the amount of hype given to a game is often inversely proportional to the quality of the finished product. Nebulus is another case in point. No pre release advertising, one demo game at the PCW show, and that's about it. The game is absolutely superb; simple, totally original, and brilliantly executed.Graphically, Nebulus is flawless. Watch the rotating towers from a couple of feet away and I challenge anyone not to be totally convinced. If this isn't enough, the parallax scrolling in the bonus section is equally incredible. This gameplay hasn't been neglected either: the word 'addictive' fails to amply convey the lure that Nebulus holds. Forget film tie-ins and 'officially licensed' games - true originality wins through every time. Buy it and believe.
Paul Sumner
In what has to be the most amazing month for software, my money goes on Nebulus as the most entertaining of the three Gold Medals. The graphics have seriously got to be seen to be believed still shots CANNOT do them justice. Their quality is in the animation: the parallax scrolling, the tower rotation, and the cute little green alien are all stunning. This game is not just technically brilliant though, as the programmer has managed to capture the most elusive element of all addictiveness; I'm not sure whether it's the Boulderdash theory of 'this time I'll beat it', or the slick presentation that makes the whole experience of playing enjoyable, but you just keep coming back for more. It seems that Hewson have again shown the bigger software houses that quality is what counts, not just a good idea, an expensive license, or glossy advertising. Keep it up! The software industry needs games like this.
Beautifully presented, with all the in-game options necessary.

Truly stunning effects for the tower rotation, and excellent parallax scrolling in the bonus stage.

High quality title music, and thoughtful effects throughout.

Absolutely impossible to stop playing even though it's infuriatingly difficult.

The eight towers require enormous perseverence to crack, and even when they've been conquered, there's always an improved time to go for.

One of the most innovative games ever, and one which adds a whole new dimension to the platform game format