Have You Played… Gods?

gods

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Quite possibly the videogame I’ve put the most hours into without seeing more than a couple of levels. The Bitmap Brothers’ Greek mythology-themed (but only in the loosest possible sense) action-platformer was exacting and unforgiving, dirty and brutal in a way that colourful peers like Mario and Sonic were not.

That was the appeal of course – it looked darker and grittier and even more ‘realistic’ (trying to evoke the Simon Bisley art on the box), and it involved an intensely muscled hero throwing knives and shuriken at assorted demons. This was platforming for grown-ups, we told ourselves.

Perhaps it was, or perhaps this was an early example of the now well-documented mentality that overcoming a certain kind of videogame difficulty somehow represents broader moral fibre. In fairness, I was young and had coordination issues at that age, so Gods’ precision action was an extra challenge, but nonetheless I threw myself against its rocks time and time again, entirely consumed by fascination for its wordless, grimy but legend-strewn world.

The Dark Souls of its time? Maybe, just maybe. But Gods had a much better theme tune.

43 Comments

  1. wombat191 says:

    Wow I haven’t thought about God’s in decades. The picture and theme are familiar even if I don’t really remember the game.

    I have a vague feeling of anger and frustration

    • Ericusson says:

      This game rocked so hard but made you work for it.
      The weapon system was original and awesome, the secrets and other doors indicated by noises, the merchant ! I can’t quite remember if I finally beat it, I think so, but remember the first time I reached the final boss vividly and how much he kicked my butt despite all my health, there was so much tension.

      A way better game for me than Shadow of the Beast which I never could quite get the hang of.

      Anyway the Bitmap Brothers, between this one, Xenon 2, some Alien breed, but mostly Speedball 2 by a long shot, certainly hold a noticeable percentage of my youth.

  2. noom says:

    So much nostalgia for this one.

    I remember seeing this in the shop and being obsessively smitten with it, despite knowing nothing about it. Played it to death when I eventually got it, and I’m proud to say that 8 or 9 year old me eventually did manage to complete it. I believe it was a very early example of a game with an adaptive difficulty, lowering enemy spawns if you were struggling. So I’ve read anyway… not sure if that’s true.

    And that theme tune. So good. I still listen to it occasionally and well up a bit.

    • aoanla says:

      As with many Amiga titles, I think I remember the music (especially the intro music of course) more than I actually remember the games themselves…

      • Ericusson says:

        Pretty much all golden Bitmap Brothers titles had a very strong musical identity really.

        The kinda trumpet like first notes of Speedball 2 title screen are burnt into my eardrums ready for my fossilisation for future archeologists to discover.

  3. Konservenknilch says:

    Boy, did I ever. One of the first games on my brothers spanking new 386. Hideously hard though, so I never managed more than a few levels.

  4. Premium User Badge

    tigerfort says:

    Oh, the hours I put into this one… reaching that vast final level and trying to find all the secrets (quite a few of which were locked on timers, or by having used specific routes in previous levels, IIRC).

  5. stringerdell says:

    This, streets of rage and sonic 1 were the first games I ever owned.

    This got played a lot less than the others by 7 year old me because it was insanely difficult. Kind of want to emulate it or something and see if its still tricky

  6. PostieDoc says:

    I remember Amiga Power giving this game a less than glowing review but I loved it. Hard as nails but great fun and great graphics and sound.

  7. someoneelse84 says:

    Ha! This is the game I recommended doing a ‘Have you Played’ of in that post about running out of ‘Have you Played’ ideas. I feel so cool now.

    And yes, I have played Gods ;d

  8. criskywalker says:

    I remember that I loved its graphics, sounds and overall feeling and that it was bloody difficult. Great, great game!

  9. Colthor says:

    Watched my friend more than played myself, but gosh, how did I forget that theme music?

  10. Robmonster says:

    Wasnt this one of the first games touted to auto-adjust its difficulty? Dropping extra crates and lowering enemy numbers of you died frequently?

  11. Merus says:

    I remember getting through the first level of Gods, and reaching floating platforms that didn’t carry you along with them.

    I think this is the first time I realised that a game was hard because it didn’t work right as opposed to it just being hard.

  12. cpt_freakout says:

    Hades yes, I remember this! I also was like 9 years old when I played this, and I also remember not making it past a few levels but being completely absorbed by it. I have one of those “videogames as gateway” stories with this one, because it sparked a major interest in mythology that didn’t fade till I was like 20. I mean I’m still interested in the topic, but I used to devour books on it when I was a teen, and it all started with this silly old thing.

  13. Lobotomist says:

    How I love that tune !

  14. TheAngriestHobo says:

    What the hell is a “hode”?

  15. Paradukes says:

    God damn, I miss this game. It must be one of the earliest ones I ever played, and I played the hell out of it. Over the course of what must have been a year or so, I managed to beat the first two worlds, but I only reached the final boss of the underworld once and never actually defeated him.

    I should probably mention, someone went and remade it. I played the first world, but I only just realised they’d finished the whole game.

    I know what my evening is going to consist of.

  16. BigEyeGuy says:

    The music and graphics certainly blew my mind back then. It kinda stopped there.

  17. Michael Fogg says:

    I played this on the ST. Great adventure platformer with tons of secrets to find. Some of the puzzles required a lot of experimentation and trial and error, but otherwise I can’t remember this being particularily difficult, maybe except the last fourth level. The much touted ‘adaptive difficulty’ also didn’t amount to much, enemy numbers stayed the same, it could drop you an extra life or health when you were on last legs. Usually too little too late to help in the long run. The thing was that after a game over you had to start over, or enter one of the codes to start at level two, three or four, but that was more like practice mode.

  18. Eleriel says:

    the player death sound effect gave me nightmares.

  19. Stevostin says:

    OMG that tune. Probably the best of BB with Speedball 2.
    Also worth remembering : box art by Simon Bisley, who was the hottest thing in comic book at the time:

    link to everythingamiga.com

  20. Spacewalk says:

    I came really close to beating it on the Megadrive which was real hard going because somewhere during the porting process they doubled the speed of the game.

  21. racccoon says:

    Its a great classic game loved it.

  22. LukeW says:

    I had this on the Amiga 500. Loved it, but had to use cheats to even get past the first level.

    One of the first games I played too. I remember being enamored by the art style – to the point where as a child, I recreated the image of the guy holding the axe (the one at the start of this article) in Deluxe Paint… Think I was using Amiga Power as a reference guide.

    Must have had quite an impact too. 25 years later and I’m still drawing pixel graphics, this time for my own games in Photoshop.

  23. Shazbut says:

    I remember that eerie feeling that the game was watching and judging my every move, as it would drop teleport crystals and just do random things that I didn’t understand but knew had something to do with how I played.

  24. TheSplund says:

    Gods has to be one of my earliest PC gaming memories not sure I ever owned a full copy – even the demo might have been too hard for me to finish!

  25. ansionnach says:

    Played the DOS version on my 386. Frustrating game with stiff, unresponsive controls. Somehow remember turning around and jumping the other way at inopportune times for some reason. It was as if you were playing a fit and healthy young warrior who moved like he was im his twilight years. Even though I wouldn’t have had many games at that time, I didn’t waste too much on this. Like many Amiga games it was a bit of a tech demo.

    Would have first played it without a sound card before checking it out with FM synth, SoundBlaster and Roland MT-32. Like Xenon 2, The PC speaker music was well done. The OPL synth wasn’t that great and the Roland version (an afterthought like with many games?) was pretty poor. With SoundBlaster you did get the voice samples as well as OPL synth, which made it sound a bit more like the superior Amiga music.

  26. bill says:

    I do remember it, though I’m not sure I ever got very far. I think that was down to a lack of persistence rather than any particular difficulty though… most games back then were pretty difficult.

    This, Xenon 2 and Speedball 2 form probably some of my earliest PC game memories… Bitmap Brothers games always looked, moved and played great… although I was always jealous of my amiga owning friend, because they always looked and sounded even better on that.

  27. Lomaxx says:

    Here are some remixes that i find worth sharing, thought that also depends on ones preferred musicstyle:

    link to amigaremix.com.mp3

    link to youtube.com

    link to amigaremix.com

    link to amigaremix.com

  28. Risingson says:

    The music was done by nation12, a group made by John Foxx and Tim “Bomb the bass” Simenon (yeah, the guy that also did the song for Xenon2 based on Precinct 13). Amiga cenobytes all over the internet pop up in every mention of the game to say that the Amiga version is better than even the group recorded one.

    The game was tough as hell and quite beautiful.

  29. Bum Candy says:

    I still remember the glitch on the second level where if you had just the right amount of health and fell down a large drop but entered the door to exit the level as you hit the ground the game would freak out and give you a ton of lives. I still couldn’t complete it. There are secrets I discovered that I never encountered again and could never work out how I uncovered them. I loved it.

  30. chris1479 says:

    GODS was the very first game I have any memory about. My dad took me into some dingy games shop in the very early 90s and i was completely fascinated by this awesome looking game.

  31. Parovoz_NFF says:

    “The Dark Souls of its time”

    I actually registered to say that this “X is a Dark Souls of Y” thing needs to stop. Seriously, if there is a bingo of video game articles buzzwords then this one should be in the middle of the square.

    • Risingson says:

      Thanks. RPS is one of those sites where I feel they downplay their knowledge of videogame references just to be cooler. It’s like when you are a nerd but just need to look not too nerdy so the nerds don’t call you nerd. They seem to avoid any kind of reference with a bit more depth because they think it will scare the audience.

      GODS is just another Bitmap Brothers game, and it is not particularly difficult if you place it among the rest of platformers of that year. Hell, when Risky Woods was released (earlier) people complained because IT WAS TOO EASY. What’s this? A game that I can complete?

      • Parovoz_NFF says:

        Risky Woods holds a special place in my heart cause i, being little, did something nasty to my Win95 Pentium rig so after the reboot it loaded instead of Windows. So i did not know what to do, and just… beat it. In one long, LONG sitting after MANY tries.

        Luckily, i wasn’t aware of it being legendary difficult.

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