Venus the Flytrap – what a great title! – was one of Gremlin Graphics’ most iconic games.
Venus is one of those games with a fantastic intro – superb music and graphics that really draw you into the world.
The first level is perhaps the most memorable, and the mecha-fly you control game is superb. This in itself is perhaps why the game is so fondly remembered, owning to the unique way it operates.
The first few levels certainly are the business, with vibrant, detailed graphics and atmospheric proto-industrial music. Sadly, after the third or fourth level, you’re faced with the same enemy sprites on each world (which no longer match the environment they’re in) and there is a decline in the quality of the background graphics on occasion, especially on the Kaverns world. There aren’t even any end of level bosses to have it out with, which seems like a strange oversight for a platform shooter such as this. The game soon becomes boring and tedious, largely due to the lack of variety and reward. Even the bonus levels are the same each time.
Faith is restored somewhat for the Creeping Swamp and Tech worlds, which bring things back up to the standard of the early levels and at long last new waves of enemies come along to play. The difficulty level has also vastly increased by this point. Unfortunately it does feel like too little, too late, as with five levels per world, and a total of ten worlds, it is one huge game, but it seriously lacks variety, which is a great shame, leaving you with little incentive to persist. The final hellish world of skulls and bones is a real challenge, but again, with no big fight at the end, it is somewhat of an anticlimax.
Venus can be a very frustrating game from a gameplay point of view (you’re a fly that doesn’t fly very often). Controls are sometimes slow and occasionally just a little off, and there are only so many times you can send yourself hurtling down (or up) a chasm before it’s time to put something else on. This is one of those games with great potential, not all of which was realised.
It is easy to criticise these games of a previous era, looking at them today, so we must’t forget their impact at the time. Venus the Flytrap does have a lasting appeal, perhaps because it did have a degree of originality for its time, and it is still very enjoyable to look at and listen to today. Sound: 8/10 Graphics: 8/10 Gameplay: 7/10 Overall: 7/10