Does anyone remember how to play the original Populous?

After weeks of searching I managed to find a PC version of the original Populous, but it doesn’t have a manual or help section.

Other than raising and lowering land it appears I have no idea what I’m doing. Is there anyone out there that remembers what the other little buttons are for? How do I make a knight and things like that?


As I recall, knights are automatically generated by your castles. Castles are automatically created out of smaller building if there’s enough level land for them to do so, so you’ll need to make liberal use of rasing and lowering. I think either the “/” or the “” key makes a castle-sized plot of level land.

The little buttons are for you (in the role of your peoples’ god) to cast your wrath upon your opponent’s people. Earthquake is a good one to distrupt their land to make it unsuitable for castles. You an also do other things like turn areas of their land to mud and, IIRC, call for Armageddon.

Going from memory (I played that on a single 3 1/4" floppy, just to give a little perspective)…

Landscaping isn’t the only thing you’re capable of, but it is what you’ll be doing the vast majority of the time. Basically, you need flat land, and lots of it. In the early going, the best thing to do is to create at least one castle, then every so often raise the land nearby so it becoms a smaller settlement, releasing a settler. Do this until you have enough castles to ensure a steady flow of “mana” (indicated by one of the bars at the top of the screen. It can get frustrating in the early going because your walkers’ movements are COMPLETELY random, and they’ll very often completely ignore the best areas to settle. The only way to direct someone is to place your “papal magnet” (that big ankh thing) and use the “go to leader” command. This will bring people to the ankh and turn the first one that touches it into a leader, or bring the leader to it if you already have one.

As for your other abilities: Earthquake is best for lowering a high area quickly (especially good against volcanoes). It can kill people if water is deadly, but generally too random for this purpose, and it’s virtually useless if water is only dangerous. Knight turns your leader into a knight (they’re not generated automatically), which has tremendous destructive power and will destroy enemy settlements instead of just taking them over, effectively preventing other enemies from using the land. However, they drain you of a lot of population when they die, as well as deprive you of a leader; I recommend using them sparingly. Swamp creates several deadly patches of grond. If they’re bottomless, a well-placed swamp can wipe out literally dozens of foes. Shallow swamps are generally only good for killing enemy knights. Volcano creates a big area of uneven raised land with lots of rocks thrown in. Not really that effective for something that uses as much mana as it does. Flood lowers the entire world by one level; depending on the level, this may give you an outright victory or simply inconvenicence the enemy for a bit. Armageddon (which really isn’t as cool as it sounds) sends every person on the planet to the center (land will raise automatically if water is in the way) for one final series of battles for the planet.

Always note your opponents’ abilities. If all he has is the flood ability, keep everyone nice and high. If all he has is volcano, build either at sea level and have earthquakes handy, or build to the highest possible level (but this takes plenty of mana and makes it hard to build extensive settlements). And no matter what, DON’T STOP EXPANDING. For some reason, he can’t take over more than a third of the planet, so no matter how deep a hole you’re in, you’ll eventually come out on top so long as you avoid getting annihilated.

  • Bonus! - How to beat level 999.
    Stay at sea level so you don’t waste a lot of energy flattening land. Use the “settler eject” I mentioned earlier and expand as much as possible. He’ll send a knight your way pretty soon. If you have the mana for a swamp, swamp 'im (save in case you miss); otherwise, keep dunking him in water until he gives out. Do this for every other knight that comes by. For some reason, every enemy with the knight abilitiy will use it as much as possible; so long as you keep killing them, you need never fear any other retribution. When you have more than 1/3 of the planet, start bridging the gap to his territory and wipe his forces out at your leisure.

Damn, talk about a misspent youth… :slight_smile:

Didn’t it rattle around a lot in the drive?

You stole my comment! :slight_smile:

To create mid-sized settlements quickly and generate settlers, raise land by using two “ups” and one “down”. This creates a 2x2 area of flat land. Then go far enough n/s/e/w and create another one that leaves a narrow valley between the two. Repeat until you have a grid of tract houses. Once they’re all populated, do the up/up/down thing at the intersections; this will spit out walkers, but fill in the valleys. Tell your people to gather and settle while you’re doing this and the 2x2 houses will convert to a grid of castles.

Also, you may not get hit with volcanoes, but if your opponent has flood, he will always use it.

I bought the game and played it at college on my 286. I still have all of the packaging at home for it. I will make sure the instructions are in there. If they are, I can send you a scan of the manual. I don’t think there is anything illegal about that, is there?

Aside from the part where it violates copyright, no.

Eh? Oh, I guess it depends on how you interpret how he “found” a copy of the software. I took it to mean he got it through a flea market or similar situation and there was no instructions with it.

Can I assume you are reading a more nefarious means into his “found”? Or am I (probably the case) missing something else?

The scanning (copying) part is the illegal part. Mailing him your copy is just fine.

:confused: :confused: :confused: Every place I’ve been to that used 3 1/4"s referred to them as “floppies”. I never heard any other term.

Anyway…yes, the enemies with floods will use them at every opportunity. But the same is true for knights. Therefore, if you keeep killing his knights, he’ll never get enough mana to spring a flood. This is important in 999, since you’ll have to stay at sea level for a while to save mana when creating settlements.

I’ve found that the most efficient way to win is to flood the foes out of existence if water is deadly (or let him do it; flooders are notoriously self-destructive), then use earthquakes to mop up the survivors. Otherwise, build a strong leader with the “go to leader” command, knight him, and let him at 'em. If he dies, take over the burned areas and start over with another knight. (Don’t create multiple knights; this does nothing but waste resources.) It should take no more than 4 death machines to finish the job. You can also just set “fight and settle”, but this takes forever, even against a weak enemy. Armageddon, to be honest, is more fun than useful, and there’s definitely no guarantee of success. If you are going to go for it, do so when you have at least a 2:1 advantage, and preferably 3:1.

I’m a little disappointed that this and its spinoffs were never released in a collection. It’s one of the extremely few computer games where I could do anything more than get my butt kicked from beginning to end.

Ok… sort of getting it, but not entirely. So let me ask this:

The local movie place also rents console games. They make a photocopy of the play instructions and includes that with the cartridge when they rent it out and keep the original safe. Thus when some dunderhead does not return the instructions, the rental place just makes another copy for the next rental.

Are they breaking copyright laws or does that fall under “fair use”?

Because the difficulty I am having is that the instructions, by themselves, are pretty much worthless. The fun part of the package is, obviously, the game.

I can see the game publishers not wanting copies of the instructions floating around in cyberspace because then it makes it easier to play pirated games, but if someone has lost the instructions to a legitimately (please assume as fact for now) obtained game, it’s illegal to make them another copy?

Sorry for the hijack, Ethilrist’s post really caught me by surprise.

Floppies come in 8", 5¼", 3", 3½", and 2". 3¼" doesn’t exist.

Populous rules. I downloaded the steem engine to play it when the browser-lemmings thread surfaced last year.

Here’s the notes I compiled for it:

????????????????: Full Power

------ --- --------- -------- ----- ------------- ----------------------------
ETLEAB 017 Very Slow Perseus  Both  Bolt          Swamp,Quake,Fire Column
UNQUAK 043 Very Slow Perseus  Both  Bolt,Tornado  Swamp,Storm,Fire Rain,Fonts
DOCCAK 064 Very Slow Achilles Both  Whirlpool     Forest Fire
ITUXAK 085 Very Slow Heracles Both  None          Forest Fire,Quake,Rocks
UNETAT 107 Very Slow Helen    Both  Bolt,Whirl    Fonts
ACFEAG 131 Slow      Adonis   Both  Fungus,Whirl  Forest Fire,Swamp,Quake
SUMOAT 177 Slow      None     Both  Plague        Swamp,Quake,Storm,Fire Rain
ITDDAB 213 Medium    Adonis   Raise Whirlpool     Forest Fire,Fonts

- Set Forest Fires by densely planting many trees and igniting with fire.
- Flowers repair land. (For volcanoes and when you can't raise/lower land.)
- Additional info for heroes:
  Perseus is smart enough to avoid most traps, but not earthquakes.
  Adonis is immune to swamps/fungus, but splits so much that the computer
    gets a huge mana boost. (Winning fights earns mana.)
  Heracles doubles the leader power when created, making him super-strong
    indeed. He can also walk over earthquakes.
  Helen makes everybody starve, or after seducing everyone starts humping them
    to death doing equal damage to them & herself. Seducing causes no
    damage to her, so even a weak one can seduce everyone. She is oddly
    not immune to baptismal fonts; these are the best counter.
- Roads are only marginally useful. Enemies may follow them into traps, and
    they also provide a barrier to fungus...
- Fungus spreads based on the rules of the Game Of Life. Good patterns are:
    1) .X 2) .XX 3) .XX 4) XXX 5) XX.. 6) XX... 7) XXXXX     For Fun: ..XXX..
       XX    XX.    XX.    X..    .XX.    .XX..                       XXX.XXX
       .X    .X.    .XX    .X.    ..XX    ..XX. 8) XXXXXXX            .......
                                          ...XX                       XXX.XXX
    To read about Life:                                               ..XXX..             
    Nice java applet to test/view the above patterns: (plus more complex ones)

Also, your main question is answered in-game. Clicking on any power in the pre-game info screen will show you the power in action and also offer a text description of what it is and what it does.

Some basics I didn’t cover in my readme:

  • Whirlpools en masse will suck huge tracts of land into the ocean.
  • Flattening huge tracts of land on a map (like over two thirds of it) will cause those stone statue gods to cross the map leaving earthquake trails in their wake. This is to get you off your ass and win the map.
  • The most effective means of flattening land is UP 3, DOWN 3, UP 1, which gives you a 9x9 flattened area.
  • If prepping for a flood, you can either build barriers, or go for the super-fast high-ground technique of UP 6, DOWN 6, UP 3, DOWN 3, UP 1. (Or somethinng.) This creates massive tracts of flat land that end up being like 3 levels above the water.
  • The arrow-pointing-at-a-question-mark icon is used for info. Click it, then click any building, worker or hero and you’ll see its info in the top right of the screen. This is particularly useful for tracking the enemy leaders so you know when they become knights.
  • Hold the small lightning bolt attack down for extended killing. If you tag the target with the info icon beforehand, you can see the hit points drain away and so you will know when to let up. As you increase your lightning power, you get more bolts per attack. (My best guy has 3 forks.)
  • Right clicking any hero icon will shift the map focus to your hero if you have one of that type. Similarly, right clicking the papal magnet will focus the screen on your magnet.
  • One of the function keys toggles full screen mode, which is a much better view for rasing and lowing land, especially if you have to have a flag on the screen before you can raise or lower. (I think it’s a high one…F8 or higher, maybe.)
  • In a pinch, you can use the pause/unpause like a mental patient. Pause it for scrolling, mouse positioning, whirlpool placement, etc…, and only unpause for just long enough to click whatever it is you’re clicking. Can be of limited help against the speedier gods.

I’ll post more tips if I think of any.

Er, all that info above is for Populous II. Sorry if it doesn’t apply.

If you are playing Populous II, the great unsolved mystery (after searching the google groups archives) is how to score many points. Nobody ever found a consistent way to earn a high score.

High scores earn you lightning bolts: every 13,000 points is worth one bolt. The problem is that after a great win, sometimes you’ll only have like 120 points, so no deity bolts.

The general concensus – which I tend to agree with – is tht the dopey programmers didn’t use a large enough integer variable for the score, so after you’ve earned 64000 points it keeps adding more which only cycles it back around to zero. Quite a bummer, actually.

Lightning bolting the enemy leader and then walling up their papal magnet is probably the most satisfying way to fuck with the enemy, especially if you then swamp the shit out of the surrounding area.

I hate to resurrect such an old thread but I found this while searching for something else.

I loved the game. I used to play it on the Sega Genesis. I used to even dream in Populous.

I had it for Super Nintendo. My ultra-Catholic friend’s mega-Catholic mom took the game after you play god. She did something to it. With holy water.