By Al Giovetti
Peter Molleneux made his reputation with Populus several years before the release. Unfortunately the game did not have massive sales since the title was eclipsed by a large number of available titles releasing simulaneously. Powermonger is one of the most under-rated, and under-promoted games in the history of gaming.
The sad history of this game is that with the speed of today's computers, even taking into account programs that slow down the processor, the game is unplayable on modern computers. The game is also out of print. The only versions of the game are available on ebay.
This title cries out for a remake so that it can be played on today's computers. Bulldog and Molleneux do not intend, at this time, to update the game and bring it out for modern computers. I will go cry now.
POWERMONGER, Conquer a Living World
San Mateo, Calif., July 7, 1992 - Electronic Arts and Bullfrog Productions announce the release of PowerMonger for IBM PC and compatibles. From the producers of Populus, PowerMonger will bring out the chieftan in you.
PowerMonger takes you to a living world where each individual has a home, an occupation, and a level of intelligence. The land is both vividly rendered using 3-D vector graphics. In addition to the many hills and plains, PowerMonger depicts a variety of roads, buildings, trees, lakes, boats and even animated waterfalls and streams. The land is populated with fishermen, farmers, cattle, sheep and birds. You can even see carrier pigeons delivering orders, and also the angels of fallen warriors ascending into heaven. A change in season prompts farmers to harvest, or the birds to migrate. The land may be viewed from different angles and magnifications.
PowerMonger casts you as the leader of a displaced tribe newly arrived in an uncharted territory. There are 200 territories to conquer before the world is yours, and each territory begins with a different layout to yield millions of different games. The land is populated with scattered villages, merchant and fishing communities and large populated towns. To unite the lan under your rule, you must win the allegience of the people by force, negotiation or outright bribery. Then order your people to invent new technology, like better weapons, and they can invade other villages. But provide food for your people or they'll wander off to find it themselves. And each of your Captains has a different personality, a fact you must consider when you issue orders. Play against three other computer-controlled PowerMongers, or two people via modem.
Powermonger is a Trademark of Electronic Arts.
Category: Strategy Simulation
Contact: Nicole Noland (415) 513-7590
Al's Original Review
Powermonger, a game which is a blockbuster hit on the Atari ST and Amiga computers, is now available for the IBM. Powermonger, a hybrid strategy-war game which also has very definite roots in the "god game" genre, is a product of Bullfrog Software, who produced the smash hit "god game", Populus, and the just-released Populus II. Coming to the IBM with such a pedigree gives the computer user some pretty large expectations , but the sales of the IBM version of Powermonger seem to be obscured by the multitude of available IBM games.
Powermonger is a "world where every individual has a home, an occupation a level of intelligence," and an attitude. The geographic surroundings are rendered to show mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, roads, buildings, trees, and animated waterfalls. The trees come in several types which can be shown on the constantly-displayed smaller territory map in the upper left corner of the screen. Animated characters include farmers, fishermen, merchants, shepherds, cattle, sheep, birds, carrier pidgens, and angels of fallen warriors. Each character actually performs his duties to supply food, and in times of plenty to invent tools, such as catapults, cannons, swords, bows, ploughs, pots, and boats.
Towns and armies are divided into those loyal to the yellow, red, blue or white armies. In single player mode, you play the white army powermonger. Each of the other armies has their own computer-directed powermonger leader. The goal of the powermonger in the single player game is to cut a path in blood from the northwest corner of the 15x13 campaign map of the realms to the southeast corner of the map.
Each intersection on the map represents a territory. There are 200 territories to conquer (195 on the 13x15 campaign map). When a territory is selected from the campaign map, the powermonger is allotted a certain number of troops from seven to forty, with certain tools, such as swords, boats, bows or no weapons. From these humbel beginnings, the powermonger is charged with subduing, by battle, alliance, trade, and invention, the entire map. Once he has a foothold in the realms, the powermonger can move from territory to territory across the 195-territory matrix.
The powermonger can adjust his attitude from agressive to neutral to passive. The attitude of the powermonger and his opponents determines the outcome of any interaction, such as invention, battle, trade or alliance. In battle, an aggressive commander will take no prisoners, while a passive commander captures all he subdues and recruits them into his subjects. An agressive commander will invent catapults, cannons, swords, or bows, while a passive commander will invent plows, pots or boats. While trading, an agressive commander will trade for cannon, while a passive commander will trade for boats.
The powermonger interfaces shows the world from an overhead, oblique, third-person perspective. The window on the world is surrouded by icon-based command tiles that are activated by the mouse. The window on the world can be zoomed and rotated for a better view. Zooming in close speeds up the game clock while zooming out slows down the clock. The game has all the usual game functions, including save, load, game-speed setting other than zoom, replay map, retire, and play random map. Save games allow you to select a path to hard drive or floppy drive making the save game capacity virtually infinite.
The IBM version of powermonger supports solitaire play against three computer components or data or null modem play with two human opponents. The modem support allows for messages to be sent outside the game to the other players. There are special modem play rules to accomodate the real-time nature of the human to human combat. One such restriction is the disabling of the save game feature when playing against another human.
The interface is mouse or keyboard compatible, with a large group of simultaneously active hot keys supplimenting the use of the mouse. Sound includes a beginning musical theme with boot-up and a large group of very relistic digitized sound effects which include the swishing of wings in flight, bird calls, battle sounds, and the resounding cheer of "hey" by winning troops after a battle. The sounds make the world appear to be a real world trapped withing the confines of your computer.
Three dimensional vector graphics, which display in IBM VGA graphics mode, and animations appear identicle to the Amiga and Atari ST platforms from which the game was imported. Powermonger is a high-quality product that will give hours of satisfying play to one two human opponents who enjoy war games, simulations, or "god games", and would not be put off by the real-time combat.
In a word the game play was addictive. You could literally replay maps forever and still get play value from them. At first blush many maps appeared to be impossible with three other massive armies marching around the map. With time and repeated playings of the game, you developed a feel for the rhythm of winning the game under any circumstance even against unbelievable odds where you are out gunned and out numbered by massive armies.
At this time graphics were moving up the ladder in importance, but games were still mostly about good gameplay since graphics were not spectacular enough to really dazzle you into mistakenly thinking that a plot and gameplay were unnecessary.
This game allowed you to be subtile. The only way to win some maps was to avoid the massive armies running around the map. Allow the other armies to battle it out and then quicklypick up the spoils of war left on the battlefield after the battle.
Resources such as food, weapons, and other tools could be critical to winning the game and were in plentiful supply on a battlefield right after two large armies collided head on. Often you had to wait for an army to move onto another area of the map then pounce on a lightly defended town and build up weapons such as swords which required mines or bows which required tree cutting. Food was another essential resource and one sure way to have surpluses was to have boats and plows available to reach the maximum production.
The game required a good balance between patience to wait to fight until you have the advantage and develop resources like food, and a sense of urgency to develop devastating weapons of war and sufficient population to provide a large enough army overcome the enemy with few casualties.
Towns had three stages in development from the small village to mid size and the largest town. Larger towns had larger populations who could more quickly invent, mine metal for ploughs, swords and cannon, harvest mud for pots, cut trees for bows, catapults and boats, and farm and fish for food. Larger towns also had the facilities to make more items in their workshops.
Like most real-time strategy games this game was short on plot. The plot kinda goes like this: you play a rather nasty military commander who is trying to dominate a very large area of land. If you are the last one standing, you win, if not, load your save game and try again.
Three dimensional graphics with 256-colors supporting 640 x 480 resolution. Not too impressive by today's standards unless you are comparing the graphics to a PDA (personal digital assistant) or cell phone graphics. At the time the game was released, most people who played the game were impressed by the graphics.
This was before voice actors.
The only music was in the boot up of the game.
Many good sound effects increase game immersion.
One of the first multiplayer games, Powermonger allowed two players to play against one another on two separate computers connected by a phone modem or a null modem.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughMichael Humes, PowerMonger Strategic and Tactical Guide IBM Version, 80 pages, Copyright Electronic Arts All rights reserved