Review: Nebulus


Time to correct a travesty of justice, ST/Amiga Format not reviewing Nebulus.

On Christmas Day 1989, 9-year-old me got a hell of a surprise. There was a bloody big box in some wrapping paper. Being a greedy shit like most kids, I ripped the packaging off and found this beast.

I was absolutely delighted – it looked so cool. So I got it all out of the box and assembled and it looked something like this..

Yes the mouse really was that shite, and you don’t even see the god-awful joystick in that picture, but after the Amstrad CPC 464 I’d had up til then this was an absolute beast. And then there was the huge collection of games.

Classics like Afterburner, R-Type, Gauntlet 2, Super Hang-On, Space Harrier, Bomb Jack, Xenon, Double Dragon and Outrun. Lesser known gems like Overlander, Pacmania, Bombuzal, and utter tripe like Super Huey, Predator and Black Lamp. All of them to some degree impressed me when I put the disk in the drive but one game above all made my fucking jaw drop to the floor. That game was Nebulus.

Just fucking look at that. That amazing rotating tower, the reflections, it looks fucking brilliant. It’s also fucking hard. That was my first go at the game in bloody ages and the muscle memory was still there, but dear god it’s hard. The first level is manageable but the 2nd starts being just bloody vicious.

It has that trial and error nature of 80s platformers, where you have to learn which platforms will suddenly disappear from under you, and it has the need to learn the patterns of enemies etc. 8 levels of absolute vicious bastardry. Oh and a second set of 8 levels that are even more vicious. Seriously it’s absolutely vicious, the Dark Souls of 80s platformers.

Urgency is added by the floating balls that come from outside the tower (you can see that in the video at 12 seconds) which means you have to time your moves properly. It gets more frequent as the timer runs down, adding an extra layer of difficulty.

Between levels you get some downtime shooting fish.

Sound is pretty good with a strangely Indian-sounding score in the title screen, though the game itself just has a few sparse effects. It does the job but it’s not the star of the show. It’s the graphics and the gameplay that do it. This game absolutely hooked me, even though I was bloody awful at it.

Still Graphics: N/A (they’re never fucking still)
Moving Graphics: 5/5
Soundtrack: 3/5
Lasting Interest: 5/5
Overall: 96% Format Gold

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