Title           Amnios
Game Type       Shoot-em-up
Company         Psygnosis, 1991
Players         1
Compatibility   All (*1)
HD Installable  Yes (With WHDLoad patch)
Submission      Hidehiko Ogata Profiled Reviewer (

It's not everyday when you wander in a computer shop, and the friendly
store manager hands over a box to you with a knowing smile: "Hey, I think
you're gonna like this one."

Such was my case with Amnios, an oddball '91 Psygnosis release which seems
to have become somewhat lost (*2) among their growing number of outsourced
projects in the 90's that started to diffuse their shining identity.

There were good reasons to dump this top-down free-scroller SEU right
away. The usual attractions: inspired weapons, copper horizon, catchy
in-game music - it had none of these. The gameplay to eradicate "alive"
planets was dangerously close to that of Pioneer Plague, an '88 classic -
with the addition of unpopular turn-and-thrust control, and without the
depth of meta-planetary stages nor the HAM mode.

Worst of all, it was jerky, so much so that your deadly line of fire
blinked like jolly marquee bulbs. This, after Titus' silky-smooth
Battlestorm ('91) or Psygnosis' own dynamic Awesome ('90), almost called
for the slogan aimed at old Atari ST ports: "Does it use the blitter/copper

Was the trusty store manager proven wrong then? Nope! As soon as I fired
it up on the store's A500 and (after a long whirrrr) I was dispatched on
to the disgusting planet surface bustling with visceral noise and eerie
tension, I knew I was in for a treat. A real one!

What's not to like?  It played like half-Asteroids, half-Bosconian
(Namco), with a touch of Defender's rescue routine... THREE of my all-time
favorite open-ended SEU's. Instead of your typical tracker tune, it had
clever, otherworldy audio cues and the brooding heartbeat of the planet
itself to tell you your situation, reminding me of the classic Mind Walker
(Commodore, '86) - Another of my favorites (*4).

Then there was the tastefully grotesque artwork by the graphics
extraordinaire Pete Lyon in his signature pastel colours (including the
hand-animated intro when CGI was in vogue)... it was nice to see him
finally land a (half-)decent project after being THE saving grace for
otherwise cheap Microdeal stuff for so long (Leatherneck or Fright Night
anyone?)  Not that Amnios was designed much better (partly by his own
doing this time) - it flatly failed to develop past the first level, with
the power-up system so open to abuse - but it didn't matter; it was a good
enough excuse to hop onto the impulsive Fathership for a 10-stop tour of
sickening intestines, insects and vegetations, a true Pete Lyon
extravaganza that you can easily play to the end without cheating in one
sitting for a change.

Did the store manager know all this?  Not likely; yet whenever I come back
for some turn-and-thrust, fly-by-radar refresher, I take my virtual hat
off to her instinct... and to the brilliant artist (*5) who didn't pull
any punches for this just-passable SEU.

In short: an average SEU glamourous in unique ways; shame about the choppy
display. A potential re-evaluation piece for AGA owners (see note *3).


*1 Another odd(?) thing about this game is its high compatibility. The
   original floppies, with otherwise infamous custom trackloader and copy-
   protection, loads and runs fine on my A4000/060 without any hustle -
   caches, AGA, FastRAM all enabled.

*2 Which was kind of odd for a game which featured half-naked dancing
   (ahem) humanoid babes in a frenzy...

*3 The irony is that the game runs notably more smoothly on AGA machines,
   apparently due to its "poor" coding.

*4 Also reviewed by yours truly.

*5 His website is at: (as of spring 2004).

Category list.

Alphabetical list.