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a game by Electronic Arts, and Bullfrog Productions
Genres: Strategy/War, Simulation
Platforms: PC, Sega GenesisGenesis, SNESSNES, Sega Master SystemSega Master System, GameBoy
Editor Rating: 6.8/10, based on 17 reviews, 18 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: God Games, Games Like Spore, Populous Games

In Populous you are a very powerful and hopefully very wise, deity. Your goal is to go forth and multiply more quickly than your sinister opponent -- the evil god.

You and your people work together to achieve victory. You raise and lower land to create areas where they can settle and multiply. As the population grows you earn greater powers. Use your Papal Monument to lead your followers to the promised lands. Create Knights and send them out to bum and pillage your enemy's settlements. Even better, cause a natural disaster. An earthquake, a well-placed swamp, or a worldwide flood can really disrupt the evil population's growth.

ProTip: In the early worlds evil has little power. Build high, flat land for your followers so they can multiply quickly, and when you're powerful enough flood the world. Two or three floods usually decimate the evil population.

Hundreds of worlds populated by the followers of evil await your divine intervention. As you advance to each new world you'll find the challenges for your followers increase.

Populous, as fans of the PC and Genesis versions know, is a complicated and absorbing game. Fast action fans may find that creating a brave new world takes more time and energy than they've got. However, that omnipotence will find the SNES version features better graphics and sound than the Genesis version of the game. Let there be life with Populous.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Game modes: Single game mode

Player controls:

  • Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
  • Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
  • "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
  • "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
  • "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)

Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Pentium II (or equivalent) 266MHz (500MHz recommended), RAM: 64MB (128MB recommended), DirectX v8.0a or later must be installed
Sega Master System

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Ever had a craving for power, a yen for omnipotence, an urge to become a divine being? Of course you have! Alas, providence has not decreed that mere mortals may take on the powers of the gods -- or has it? Well, with a little help from Electronic Arts you'll find you can achieve divine status in no time at all with Populous, a PC smash ported over for the Genesis.

In The Beginning

In Populous you are a very powerful and hopefully very wise deity! In the beginning you have a small band of loyal followers from whom you derive your power. Your goal is to increase the number of your followers. As their population and achievements grow so does your power. Unfortunately, the world is also populated by a group of individuals who follow evil deity. In your supreme wisdom immediately clear to you that you must wipe this unredeemable band of misfits and your sinister opponent off the face of the planet.

Go Forth And Multiply

Since it's not likely that your unfriendly opponent's people will see the error of their ways, it's necessary for your followers to crush them. You and your people work together to achieve this. You raise and lower land to create areas where they can settle and multiply.

ProTip: Raising and lowering land is the key to success, especially in the early worlds of the game. The more flat land you create the faster your worshippers' population will grow, and the more powerful you'll become.

As your population grows you'll have more and more powers at your disposal. Use your Papal Monument to lead your followers to the promised lands to create leaders for them. When you've reached a certain level of power convert leaders into knights and send them out into the world to bum and pillage your enemy's settlements.

If you have a remote settlement of evil followers that needs to be destroyed, try building a small land bridge to this area and sending a knight there to destroy the settlements.

As your manna bar (power level) increases, divine intervention of the natural disaster-type is possible. There's nothing like an earthquake, a well-placed swamp, or even a worldwide flood to disrupt the evil population's growth.

  • In the early worlds evil has little power. Build high, flat land for your followers so they can multiply quickly, and when you're powerful enough flood the world. Two or three Roods usually decimate the evil population.
  • Earthquakes, swamps, and volcanoes disrupt the land and make it less habitable and flat.
  • Watch out for random natural events beyond your control! For example, a ridge of rock may suddenly develop down the middle of the world. A ridge like this can be impossible to build across and may separate your followers from one another.

Judgment Day

Hundreds of worlds populated by the followers of evil await your divine intervention? As you advance to each new world (there is a password save feature) you'll find the challenges for your followers increase. You'll encounter worlds with rugged, desolate landscapes, as well as worlds where the evil deity is stronger than you!

In worlds where evil has the power to use some of the same divine interventions that you do your strategy becomes much more complicated. One possible tactic is to focus on keeping the size of your population larger than that of the sinister deity's. To do this you'll have to build land, and strategically use floods, swamps, earthquakes, and other interventions to slow down the growth of the evil population. Of course, the Malevolent One will pull the same tricks on you. Then when you have the strength to declare Armageddon go for it! Neither you nor the evil deity can control what happens from this point on, but if your followers outnumber evil you should emerge victorious!

Populous is an addictive game of strategy and luck -- or fate as it were! Like a good game of chess, the action is often slow-paced and absorbing. As you move to more advanced worlds the game becomes increasingly complicated and challenging -- definitely not a game for those of you who like your action fast and furious and don't want to have to think about it! If you're familiar with the PC version you'll find this a satisfying translation, except for the inability to match your wits against another god of the human variety. Playing god seems like a natural on a system called "Genesis." Now, vengeance is yours!

Populous has remained a favorite of game players ever since its original introduction on the PC. You are cast in the role of a creator of worlds who must build and populate the lands. Provide the inhabitants of each land with the necessary weather conditions and create a climate condusive to growth. Be wary, however, since there is another who will try to destroy and dismantle all that you have created.

People say:


This game has most of the strategy overtones that appeal to computer gamers. I, on the other hand, am not a computeyjame fan, so it shouldn't be surprising that Populous, which has already worn out its welcome on half a dozen other formats, failed to impress me.


Good translation or not, I don't like this game at all. It's repetitve, boring, and noneventful. The graphics are not Super NES quality and soundtrack is nonexistant. Don't waste your time trying to be a god and don't waste your money on this cart. Poor game, poor theme, poor Populous.


Fans of the PC version will be doing flips for this cart! Even though the game is a bit tedious, it still represents an original concept that takes some thought to win. Not only do you have over 900 worlds to conquer, but also different backdrops help change the repetitive nature.


Populous is one of those games that you either like or hate. Idon't really mind so much the concept behind the game, but the overall execution is just a little too slow for a blaster veteran like myself. It's not a good game or a bad game in my book - it's just Populous.

The founding father of the God sims is back for its third shot at godhood-building gameplay. As a fledgling god, gamers try to build a religious following among a planet's native people, with the eventual goal of training your devotees in warfare and beating back the rival gods. Your divine powers include ghost armies, plagues, firestorms, and the angel of death, as you struggle toward supreme-being status on a fully 3D, sphere-shaped planet, which you can study from space or from the surface.

Another highly successful Electronic Arts computer game to be converted to the Genesis is Populus. In this game you play the role of a type of God. You have the responsibility of taking care of a populated world and you must try to have the people flourish and multiply. You can create new land for them to live on but there is a down side. The computer also plays a God but it is evil. You then must try to protect your territory while attempting to destroy the evil empire.

  • Manufacturer: Electronic Arts
  • Version: Amiga

If flying jet planes, racing fabulously expensive sports cars and slaying magical dragons can't raise more than a polite yawn at your house, it may be time to explore the ultimate daydream. The Bullfrog development team, under the leadership of Peter Molyneux (see the interview on page 150), offers an action-strategy game that makes the computerist the god over an entire world.

This stunning concept catapulted Populous to the top of the British software sales charts last winter. The real-time brain teaser could repeat its triumph here if it weathers the wrath of the same fundamentalist groups who previously attacked Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games as sacrilegious.

The computerist becomes a divinity of a primitive, undeveloped world. The Book of Worlds, in the upper-left corner of the main display, presents an electronic bas-relief map of the planet. The player clicks the mouse to see a more detailed view of the selected area in the diamond-shaped close-up map.

The playfield is bordered by three sets of control icons and the information shield. The shield shows the world's current level of civilization and the power of the good and evil forces. Control icons in the lower-left corner govern many of the game-play functions. These include arrows to scroll the close-up map. One bank of icons located here lets the player instantly zoom to a leader (settlement or designated opposition), and another group facilitates various types of divine influence.

The icons of the manna bar allow the player to directly intervene in world events. The player can raise and lower terrain to make it more (or less) hospitable, instigate natural disasters such as floods and volcanoes, create a holy knight to battle with enemies, establish a papal magnate to draw the faithful together or even unleash Armageddon. The more energy the deity has, the more powers he or she controls. A god in Populous is powerful, but far from omnipotent.

Finally, a small group of icons in the lower right-hand corner governs game functions. These enable the computerist to load, save and pause games, change parameters and handicap the superior player if there is competitive imbalance.

In a short preface, the documentation explains the source of divine power to prospective deities: "You have a group of followers from whom you derive your power. The more followers you have and the greater their achievements, the more power you wield". If it weren't for that other group just over the hill who has pledged its faith to a competing god, the whole onward and upward process would simply be a matter of time.

But the road to becoming the universal object of adoration is a rocky one in Populous. The computer-directed foe is quite adept at promoting the growth of its own followers while frustrating the player's flock with natural disasters and invasions by deadly evil knights.

If solo play isn't enough, there are two ways to compete against another human. Populous is playable over the modem or between two machines linked by a "null-modem" cable.

Populous is no "boot and bash" program. Although events progress fast enough to please any gamer, it takes practice to learn the icon layout and manipulate the icons skillfully. The designers have recognized the challenging nature of the game in several ways. The main documentation guide, a solidly packed 36 pages, includes both a step-by-step tutorial and a section of helpful questions and answers. The disk itself includes a demonstration, though it's more helpful after reading the rule book.

The subject matter of Populous guarantees that it will be a controversial game to many. Hopefully, this won't keep the less narrow-minded from reveling in this mind-expanding, multilayered computer-entertainment landmark. Populous is a certified candidate for game of the year.

  • Manufacturer: Bullfrog

The process of creation is one of the most wondrous and mysterious of all human phenomena. The transformation of a block of stone or a square of canvas into a work of art, the telling of a marvelous story, or the dramatic re-creation of human events in a theatrical format are processes so elusive that often even the creators themselves are at a loss to explain their inspiration.

Human creativity is said to mirror the act of divine creation, whereby a mass of flaming gases and cosmic debris were metamorphosed into rolling, green hills and spans of blue ocean as a chaotic universe was brought to some semblance of order.

Populous (Electronic Arts), by the British software group Bullfrog, gives computer users a taste of this primal creative process as they literally build a civilization from scratch on the surface of a barren planet.

Players must also contest with an evil doppelganger deity for dominion over a variety of brave new worlds.

The nascent world is depicted as a grid of tiles, many marked with icons; a blank slate which can be transformed by the user into outposts of civilization, with huts, towers and even castles. Populous offers users 500 different worlds, with topographical variations from frozen tundra to barren deserts. As the planet is cleared, life begins to appear, occupying the structures built for it. All aspects of the evolving world that the player creates are under complete control, to the point where the user may even decide to visit a disaster or two upon the populace. There's nothing like a plague or an earthquake to stiffen the religious fervor of one's believers, after all.

Meanwhile, the evil deity is also hard at work, building his forces and preparing for the inevitable conflict which will see one or the other creator driven from this world.

Populous, a phenomenal success in Europe, transformed Peter Molyneux and the lads at Bullfrog into overnight celebrities. Their only previous original design was the rather obscure Fusion, but the impact of Populous instantly established Bullfrog as a major player in the game-design field. The number-one seller through much of the summer, the game's blend of strategic simplicity (it is, at root, as much a strategy game as chess or checkers) and brilliant conceptual underpinnings established it as a certified cult smash.

The interest in Populous was so great that the best players from England, Sweden, Germany and France met in the U.K. in August to determine the number-one armchair deity. Prizes were trips to various parts of the world, the exact location determined by the scenario the player won on - green goes to Canada; desert to Egypt, etc.

The Story of Populous

The design origins of Populous are among the most unique in the history of electronic gaming. "We started out", Molyneux explains, "looking for a real-time game that would be fun to play".

But the genesis of the eventual design sprang from a most unlikely source. "We were playing with Lego blocks - do you know what they are?"

Having had several nephews grow up during the past 15 years, I assured Molyneux of my intimate familiarity with the popular toy that allows its users to form a limitless number of constructs with modular, snap-together plastic blocks. Molyneux then explained how they began playing Populous as a board game, creating pockets of civilization on their vast, tabletop landscape.

"The game began to take on a life of its own. At one point we considered that the existence of any landmass would raise the water level around it, but we couldn't really emulate this very well with Lego bricks", he recalls with a chuckle. "But the game really began to take shape when Glenn Corpes created the graphics system and got the game up and playing in a two-player version. It was then we were able to look at the game and see where we were going".

Populous had just been released in the U.S. at press time, and Bullfrog hadn't heard very much from the Colonies on its sales yet. "Obviously the Amiga and ST aren't as important in the States as they are in Europe, but once we get the PC version out, we'll get a much better idea". Molyneux is working on that very version, in fact, as we speak. How does it look? "It's looking good," he reports confidently. "We've still got to do the Tandy mode, but the other modes are done. It'll be available in CGA, MCGA, EGA and VGA as well".

Another question lurks behind the game's appearance on American shelves: might it draw the ire of the always-pugnacious religious zealots, who may see the game as an irreverent attempt to "play God"? Even the title Populous seems to be intentionally vague, as if begging the question of what the game is really about. The back of the box contains two references to "deities", but the main graphic on the front of the box displays a pair of massive hands, one holding an Earth-like planet while the second launches lightning at it through its fingertips.

"Obviously, we were not intending to be blasphemous", Molyneux says. "There's no mention of 'God' or the 'Devil' anywhere. This was never intended to be a Jesus Christ simulator. It's simply a contest pitting good versus evil. At one point, in fact, we set up a landscape where the players were cast as political parties: Conservative vs. Labour, the parties which are comparable to the U.S.'s Republicans and Democrats".

"Actually, the game was released in England at the time of the Salman Rushdie affair (Rushdie wrote a novel called The Satanic Verses that earned him a condemnation to death by the religious fundamentalists in Iran) and people were coming up and asking us if we were worried about Iranian death threats". The soft chortle that followed Molyneux's telling of this anecdote seemed a pretty good sign that none of the Bullfrogs are losing sleep on that account.

The success of Populous in Europe made it a popular subject on the U.K.'s various computer bulletin boards. "There are always conferences going with people talking about what worlds they've defeated and so on". A special "hot line" has even been set up that allows British users to play against different members of the Bullfrog design group. "I've probably played over a thousand games of Populous", admits Molyneux, "and I still play it regularly". It's a good bet he'll be playing it a lot more.

Bullfrog's ongoing contact with a nation full of Populous players has resulted in the collection of some interesting facts. "The shortest time anyone has taken to defeat the evil deity was 20 seconds. One fellow told me, and I was able to confirm this by speaking with his opponent, that he had played a game, continuously, for 36 hours! I myself once played a game for over six hours, but, generally, I'd say an average game takes about half an hour. There are some games where you think: 'I haven't got a chance!' but if you hang in there for a while and build slowly, you can come back".

All this feedback has proven very helpful in the development of the inevitable sequel. "Electronic Arts has already released an extra worlds disk with five new worlds on it - and, in fact, one of the worlds is made up of Lego blocks! We are planning a sequel, naturally, but first we're going to take six months to sort of mull it over". And what would be the primary difference between any sequel and the original? "The people", Molyneux says without hesitation. "We want to make the people more exciting and more distinctive. Oh, there are loads of effects you could do - the flood becomes a tidal wave or war becomes disease - but the all-encompassing difference is that we want it to seem like there is a real population occupying the inside of your computer".

Bullfrog learned early on, however, that making changes in the creation process can be a tricky business. "Every change, no matter how small, can produce major results. The game has to be constantly readjusted".

But, then, nobody ever said creation was going to be easy.

Provide the guiding hand over the land in this popular simulation that puts you in charge over the destiny of a computer-generated society! Control the weather, food, and supplies to foster goodwill and spread harmony throughout the regions you control. Be careful, however, for an evil force that possesses the same powers as you will try to undo your utopian societies and bring chaos down upon your people. Only with strategic planning can you overcome this force and succeed in bringing happiness to each of the game's 900-plus worlds, even the crazy video world! With fantastic 16-bit scrolling graphics and enough play to challenge even the most advanced gamers, Populous is an excellent addition to the Acclaim library of supercharged 16-bit titles!

Master tip #326

To raise land quickly, find water. Then, raise the land twice. Next, lower the land once. You have now created a rather large chunk of inhabitable land in only three turns! Try the opposite to lower mountains!

  • Levels: 100
  • Theme: Sim.
  • Players: 1-2
  • Difficulty: Average

Ever had the urge to have a volcano erupt in a village to wipe them out and have a flood come through to really clean up? This and much more is at your command in this god-like simulation.

This popular computer game has been translated for almost every system known to man. The Master System is no exception and here it is! It still is just Populous though.

Pretend that you are able to control the lives and destiny of all the inhabitants of a whole continent. Hundreds of different scenarios offer a wide variety of simulations.

The popular computer game hit from Electronic Arts is being brought to the Super NES by Acclaim. You are either the good god or the ultimate baddie, trying to help your population achieve victory over the other side. As your people prosper and multiply, their increased karma give the respective deities the ability to raise and lower lands, cause earthquakes and floods, create volcanoes and, at the highest level of karma, a great cataclysm called Armageddon (not for the faint of heart). Through it all, your respective hero roams the land, attacking the enemy and burning down their houses. There are 500 worlds of fun to conquer!

Taito is converting it's older arcade shooter for the new 16 bit system. Featuring smooth horizontal scrolling, multidimensional backgrounds, and huge end of round bosses, Super Darius performs nearly identical to it's coin-op cousin.

Populous, the ever popular game of the "gods" is practically omnipresent. It's had great success on both the PC and the Genesis; now it's making its presence known on the Super NES. When you take over the reins of power as divine creator, you must increase your god-like powers by encouraging your followers to "go forth and multiply" over more than 900 levels. To build up your people-power you create suitable land masses for your clan to settle upon as well as protect them from evil intruders by using Mother Nature's forces, including earthquakes, floods, swamps, and more, as weapons. Nobody ever said being in charge of the world was going to be easy!

Who died and made you God?! We've all heard that one before. Well, guess what? In Populous, a new Genesis game modeled after the PC hit, you can take on the role of the "divine creator." What is it that you do when you're a God? Well, basically you have to keep your followers happy and protect them from opposing civilizations. Enticing newcomers into your fold makes you more powerful. You'll be amazed at the nifty things you can do such as creating earthquakes, floods, and even volcanoes. Experience Populous and you'll agree that having the weight of the world on your shoulders has never been so much fun!

Populous is a game developed in 1989 by Bullfrog. Populous is regarded by many as being the seminal god game. Populous was awarded with "Origins Award for Best Military or Strategy Computer Game of 1990" as well as "1990 Computer Game of the Year". It was the first game in the Populous series and preceded Populous 2 and Populous: The Beginning.

In this game, first developed for the Amiga, PC and Atari, the player adopts the role of a deity and assumes the responsibility to shepherd people by direction, manipulation, and divine intervention. The player has the ability to change a landscape and grow their colony with the overall aim of having it conquer an enemy force. The player rules over a variety of different civilizations, including Ancient, Medieval and Prehistoric.

Populous was extremely successful, and spawned a number of sequels. It was released on the PC, SNES, the Sega Master System, the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis and other platforms.

Populous gives you the powers of a god. You hold dominion over hundreds of possible worlds, ranging from icy tundra to fertile grasslands. Each world is inhabited by two kinds of people: Good and Evil. You are the god of the Good people, and through divine manipulation you foster their cultural, technological, and economic growth. Your goal is simple: to become powerful enough to overcome the Evil god and sweep the world of his people.

When the game begins, your people are poor and primitive, living in crude huts with barely enough farmland to support themselves. Their success, and your power as a deity, depend on the amount of manna (crops) your people can produce. By lowering and raising sections of the landscape, you can create more arable flatland. Then you can command your people to start planting crops and building settlements. Meanwhile, your foe—the Evil god — is working to improve the lot of his people, too. (The Evil god, usually controlled by the computer, can also be a second player, but only via a modem or null-modem hookup.) As your people toil to better themselves, so do the Evil ones. To limit the Evil peoples' growth and protect your own subjects, you have several options. You can call forth an earthquake, aiming its epicenter at the heart of the greatest Evil city. Or you can try a cataclysmic flood, wiping out entire continents. Of course, the Evil deity can do the same. Virtually all actions in Populous are selected by pointing a hand cursor at the appropriate icon. Although the game can be played with the keyboard or a joystick, neither works anywhere near as well as a mouse.

It will take a few defeats at the hands of Evil to get the hang of the many options and strategies in Populous. Experience is the only way to learn, especially since the instructions are definitely the game's weak point. But Populous is an exceptional game, and you'll soon find yourself completely absorbed in the drama of your people's lives and the fate of their worlds. Be warned, though — Populous is absolutely addictive.

Electronic game players are all familiar with Populous. This game started on the Amiga and ST, moved to other computer formats, then to the Sega Genesis and now the SF.

Simply put, you are a god, and you must build your "good" people and their kingdom for an inevitable confrontation with the "evil" side. The basics are just that: You must raise or lower your land to provide a place for your people to settle. The more flat land you make for them, the bigger the houses they are able to create.

Eventually you will knight your leader, who will travel to the land of evil and bum down evil's houses. If you have the energy, you can use earthquakes, volcanos, swamps and floods on evil to level its houses and lower its deity's energy. This is by far the best version of Populous yet. While the Genesis version has four landscapes, the Super NES has nine: grassy plains; snow and ice; desert; rock and lava; cake land; silly land; bit plains; Japanesque; Frangaise; and piggy land. By far my favorite is bit plains, where your houses start as Game Boys, then evolve through various versions of the Japanese Famicom, become NESes, SFs and finally, instead of a castle you get a Cray computer.

The most difficult part of Populous involves the controls, which are a tad twitchy and sometimes too sensitive. Other than that, Populous is a fantastic and addictive game that can be played for months without tiring.

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