After Listeria, Mad Cow Disease, Salmonella and Phil's Footy Mad Sheep, those loony farmers have finally caused a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Through overuse of pesticides all the insects have died out! No more nasty bee stings and ants in your pants maybe, but lots of plants will die without insects to pollinate them. So the loony farmers get barking mad John Gummer to call in the mad scientists. The boffins create a race of cybernetic insects, but these promptly eat some food and turn into psychopatic killer! With Richard Attenborough's favorite topic about to disappear - namely Life On Earth - the scientists develop Venus: The Fly Trap. This isn't a toothy green plant, but in fact the ultimate cybernetic insect killer. You have control of mankind's last hope.
The game has 50 horizontally scrolling levels, divided into ten graphically varied worlds. The basic gameplay is familiar enough: walk right and blast everything that moves, but there are plenty of new ideas to set it apart.
The fly has five vitally units and if they're all lost, the insect returns to the start of the level with one less life. The basic weapon can't run out of ammunition, but has limited range. When the psycho insects are shot they leave pods which can be opened with a bullet to provide bonus points, extra time, brief invulnerability, extra ammo, the ability to fly for a while, extra vitality, an extra life and special weapons. There are five add-on weapons, selected by the function keys, including Big Shot (unlimited range and extra punch), 3-Way-Fire (as it sounds, but with extra punch and ammo hungry). Mortar (even more lethal and travels in a very useful arc), Beam up (hold down fire to build up energy, unlimited range) and 4-Way (limited range, but causes lots of damage and isn't stopped by solid objects).
Providing targets for the firepower are crawlers such as caterpillars, snails, jellybugs and woodworm. There are also hoppers such as pops and rockets, plus static guns and flyers such as wasps, moths and flies. All these come in various sizes, and are supported by Boss Enemies such as a giant firepod and giant caterpillar.
Most of the creepies can happily crawl on the ceiling, as can the Venus Flytrap if you step on a special floor pad to boost it upwards and flip it over. There are also pads for continuous leaps, draining time and preventing jumping! In addition you can look out for 20 secret rooms.
At the end of each world there's a special bonus section where the Venus flies over the clouds blasting oncoming insect swarms for bonus points without feat of losing a life. A password is also given, so you can restart on the new world when you lose all your lives. You also have up to six continue-plays, but if you use these you can't enter your high score, and there's a two-player mode, with players taking turns to play.
The distinctive graphic style heralds a game that has a very different feel from most shoot-'em-ups. With the choice of weapons it's almost like a platform version of Cybernoid with the emphasis on tactics rather than super-fast reactions. Knowing when to use special weapons, and conserving your ammo, is essential. The action is set at a more leisurely pace than most shoot-'em-ups, avoiding much initial frustration. That's not to say the game's a pushover though: it's all too easy to get caught out by the floor pads (especially the inverters) and end up falling smack onto an insect's head. Although an experience not to be missed, walking and jumping on the ceiling also proves disorientatingly hazardous. Overall I think the difficulty's set just about right with progressive levels having extra features and tougher enemies as well as different themes backdrops. For sheer insects appeal, Venus is simply out of this world!
This is an excellent reworking of the horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up. The graphics are top-notch, from a nicely shaded sky and landscape to imaginative and atmospheric opponents. What can't be shown by screenshots is the superb animation, particular on Venus itself which periodically washes its mandibles and flutters its wings to create an excellent character. Actual gameplay is different enough to be novel and interesting, but nevertheless takes only a few minutes to get you hooked. The range of weapons not only look good, but are vital to making good progress. The game plays very well indeed, perhaps a bit easy - a single go can take a fair while with all the continue-plays - but extremely addictive. There's a very impressive bonus section, with massive insects and huge swirling caterpillars at the end of the section, and secret rooms.
In an attempt to restore the ecological balance after wiping out the entire insect population, scientists decided to create a race of robotic insects. Only they kind of buggered up the DNA and now these insects have turned into a swarm of psychopathic killers, intent on destroying all life. Humanity's only hope is to create the bane of all swarms of psychopathic killers, Venus the Flytrap - a robot designed to seek out and destroy the rogue insects.
The graphics in VTF are slick with good animation and sound. Your objective is to kill everything that moves and you have lots of weapons to collect to help you on your merry way. These weapons range from mortars to four-way shots. There are lots of bonuses to collect, such as extra time and shields, and you will need to use them wisely to overcome the hordes of different insects intent on destroying you. Yet another good value for money game from GBH.
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