John Phillips‘ brilliant platform puzzler, Nebulus, made a welcome appearance on the Acorn Archimedes courtesy of Krisalis Software in 1987.
The Archimedes conversion of Nebulus retains the amazing cylindrical tower rotation of the original, and the gameplay is just as devious. The idea is to guide the cute green character, Pogo, to the top of a series of towers, each one more difficult than the last. There are elevators, disappearing platforms, ramps, doors, and a variety of enemies that will knock you down to the lower levels if they touch you. Pogo can jump and also fire bubbles that will freeze or kill certain enemies. If you’re knocked into the water at the bottom of a tower you’ll lose a life, so you must avoid that happening. When Pogo reaches the very top, the tower then collapses and Pogo jumps into his submarine to travel to the next tower. In between towers he can catch fish (by shooting them, then collecting them) for bonus points.
Nebulus is difficult because – unless you know exactly what’s coming up – it’s very easy to be caught out by a trap that either drops you down a level, or causes you to be hit by an enemy. So it pays to learn from previous mistakes.
The Archimedes version of Nebulus has an extra set of levels – as well as the same set of levels as seen in the original – called “Mission #2“. You can choose these from the title screen, so can immediately start playing them, which is great. Be warned, though: these extra levels are even more difficult than the first set of levels and feature some of the most devious traps in the game. I wish Nebulus wasn’t so punishing… Or at least had level passwords. It’s the only real downside to the game.
Graphically, Nebulus on the Archimedes is even better than the Commodore 64 original, looking like the Amiga/Atari ST versions, and it also has a set of jolly tunes to accompany you while you’re tearing your hair out.
If you’ve never played Nebulus before then you must try to rectify that at some point. It’s a superb game that has stood the test of time extremely well, and this Archimedes version is one of the best out there. It’s a retro-gaming classic.
See also: The King of Grabs Archimedes Special
More: Nebulus on Wikipedia