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Video Game / Populous

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"Populous is, in many ways, SimCity with just a bulldozer."

Populous is a God Sim; scratch that, Populous is the God Sim. Designed in 1989 by Bullfrog Productions (developers who also brought us Theme Park, Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper) under the leadership of a young Peter Molyneux (who later brought us Black & White and Fable). It saw the player taking the role of a deity that helped a primitive tribe of people grow strong enough to fight a powerful enemy to defeat rival gods.

There are currently four main games, plus a few expansions :

  • Populous (1989)
    • Populous: The Promised Lands (1989)
    • Populous: The Final Frontier (1989)
  • Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods (1991)
    • Populous II: The Challenge Games (1992)
  • Populous: The Beginning (1998)
    • Populous: The Beginning - Undiscovered Worlds (1999)
  • Populous DS (2007)

Bullfrog was taken over by EA in 2007, in the era where EA had made a reputation for the Borg-like assimilation of studios they bought out, so it's highly unlikely another sequel will be made.

This game series contains examples of the following tropes :

  • A God Is You: The Trope Maker
  • Bonus Stage: Complete the third game and you can take part in an over the top straight out battle called Armageddon.
  • Cheat Code: There's normally 500 levels, with the level names working as a password system. Entering "killuspal" (kill us, pal) as the password warps you to level 999, which is basically suicidal.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Provided one of your followers is left on the map you'll still survive. Just don't expect to survive for long.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Populous DS gives the player a selection of five different gods, each with their own element, set of unique miracles, and stats for worshipers, and added power vs. another element.
    • Earth: Jack of All Stats. Advantageous vs. Air; the rocks miracles tend to produce get in the way of scattering worshipers (as well as buildings) and swamps are a walker's worst nightmare.
    • Air: High stamina. Advantageous vs. Water; wind disrupts rain-fall, one of water's basic miracles. Miracles also tend to hit large areas and scatter worshipers, allowing you "throw" your worshipers where you want them to go, or throw enemy worshipers right to their deaths.
    • Water: Balanced. Advantageous vs. Fire; rain puts out flames of any sort. Miracles also tend to convert enemy worshipers into your own.
    • Fire: Supreme strength. Advantageous vs. Harvest; Harvest's flowers and mushrooms pretty much super-charge Fire's most basic miracle: the Pillar of Fire. And Fire's extreme attack-power means it'll squash Harvest worshipers despite their growth.
    • Harvest: High reproduction. Advantageous vs. Earth; Harvest's flowers can quickly clear out rocks from Earth's miracles and its incredible growth-speed means that its low fighting-strength is rarely an issue.
  • Ethnic God: Each tribe has a commanding and beneficent god, one of which is the player.
  • G-Rated Sex: Two people walk into a house, and three people come out.
  • Hide Your Children: They pop out of huts fully grown.
  • Life Meter: Populous has two life meters, intended to be equivalent of the "tens" and "ones" places. If a walker gets enough health, the left bar will be changed to yellow, expressing another magnitude to the meter.
  • Isometric Projection
  • Mana Meter: Referred as "Manna" in-manual. The Manna meter is shown above the map, with the arrow showing the highest deity power that may be invoked. You can rapidly make as many disasters as long as you have manna.
  • Old-Timey Cinema Countdown: II shows the opening cinematic in an ancient movie theater of sorts. Fittingly, there's a monochrome countdown from 5 to 2.
  • Sandbox Mode: The computer versions of Populous allow creating one's own map, including rule setup and placement of units.
  • Spiritual Successor: Godus. Molyneux isn't coy about it, either.
  • Terrain Sculpting: One of the TropeMakers for Video Games.
  • Version-Exclusive Content: The Super NES port of Populous received a whole host of new land types to play on, including a computer-themed one whose settlers would build structures resembling Nintendo consoles. The DS version increased the number of consoles that can appear.

Alternative Title(s): Populous II