A couple of days ago, PtitSeb released a port of Gods Deluxe for the Pandora, a remake of the classic 90s game, Gods, from the Bitmap brothers. If you were born a bit too late and missed the rock’n roll and all the good stuff, you may not have heard or who the hell the Bitmap Brothers are and what Gods is about. Or maybe you were playing on consoles back then and completely missed the excellent Amiga version and thought the SNES version was the same thing (that one sucked bad). Here’s why you should care.
First, the Bitmap Brothers were among the most talented developers from the UK on Amiga. And their titles often made it to other computers (Atari ST and PC) and even consoles. They had a very particular sense of design, and most of their games cannot be mistaken once you look at their style. Even though the Amiga’s color palette was relatively limited (32 to 64 colors at once, usually), they did wonders to make graphics look great nevertheless. Gods is a great example of that: fine, sharp graphics with beautiful, detailed shades on the walls and characters. Very impressive work. You can say the same thing about their work on Cadaver, Speedball II, Magic Pockets or The Chaos Engine. It’s all splendid bitmap art at its core.
Second, Gods plays very uniquely. I’m not sure if you remember, but at the time most of the platformers were heavily influenced by Japanese games, where heroes jump 10 times their height and drop like feathers. Gods took the complete opposite approach, by giving your character a solid, hard look and making him very heavy to control. Its sprite on the screen is huge, and therefore the way you play the game has nothing to do with regular platformers. Here, you can’t really avoid enemies and slalom between fireballs – you have to shoot first and make the best of your situation when attacked from all sides. If feels more realistic and brutal. And falling from a too far up places can definitely kill you. That’s a welcome change…
Third, the sound effects really shine. Bitmap Brothers were very good at producing the right sound for the right game, starting from the intro music down to the sound effects in game. There’s nothing that feels re-used from one game to another, and in Gods you can witness the high quality of their sound work all over again, where nothing feels like a generic sample. The sound of your hero in pain, the sound of him throwing knives, the sound of the wind around when you are in free fall… and even the jingles when you complete a level, feel totally appropriate.
And better than everything else, that game was visionary. Frank Miller’s 300 came out in print in 1998, but Gods was already out since 1991 and already had nailed how to modernize the Greek/Sparta world and make it look cool again, before everyone else. It’s a pleasure to replay it nowadays on Pandora, and experience it from scratch one more time.
Note that Gods Deluxe includes some additional options (using newer tiles, etc…) but since i’m a fan of the original, I go for the original game modes instead of the newer variations of it. The only issue with that port is that Full Screen mode is not supported properly with Java on Pandora – if you really find this to be an issue, you could just play the game as well in UAE4ALL and it should run great in that fine emulator too. And while you are at it, check out SpeedBall 2 again, it’s incredibly fun to play even to this day.