You are placed in control of a female shaman and the nameless tribe which follows her on her quest to become a God. To do so you have to be better than the three opposing tribes: Dakini, Chumara and Matak, who all control the majority of the solar system and its 25 planets. While normally all four tribes are hostile to each other for reasons unknown, as you progress through the game some of the tribes will temporarily ally with each other against you. Featuring several destructive spells which can be learned by your Shaman this god game is underrated and very very much fun to play.
Individual-levels run in 2:39:18:
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|Level 1||0:00:42||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 2||0:01:39||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 3||0:00:43||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 4||0:01:07||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 5||0:01:46||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 6||0:02:59||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 7||0:02:17||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 8||0:01:34||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 9||0:02:48||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 10||0:01:42||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 11||0:02:51||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 12||0:14:47||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 13||0:02:42||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 14||0:04:47||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 15||0:03:24||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 16||0:19:23||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 17||0:07:13||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 18||0:15:18||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 19||0:07:33||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 20||0:12:19||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 21||0:14:15||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 22||0:01:46||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 23||0:03:35||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 24||0:22:45||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
|Level 25||0:09:23||2014-09-06||'Grubby Hour'|
Populous: The Beginning...
Where should I start?
The average gamer has probably never heard of this, in my opinion, very underrated game. Even in its prime, this game was merely semi-popular at best.
Despite the numbers, I honestly believe this game is one of the most fun and awesome games to date. Let me quickly explain why:
1) YOU'RE A GOD. You are literally a god, and are able to take control of a spell casting shaman. This allows you to; for example, kill an innocent unsuspecting brave by sending several millions of volts through his body in the form of a gigantic thunderbolt. This is, I must admit, strangely satisfying.
2) The game is very strategic. If you start training your braves too soon, your settlement won't grow fast enough.
If you start training them too late, your settlement will easily get destroyed by a few warriors or preachers.
High ground is key to controlling the choke points, and deciding which spells to charge can be the difference between a victory and a defeat.
3) There are some awesome cheats on this game that, for example, unlock all spells and grant the shaman maximum mana.
Using these cheats, you can absolutely wreck any living or non-living entity in the game by spawning shit everywhere.
Now, Let's move on to the real deal: speedrunning the game:
What makes 'Populous: The Beginning' a good game to speedrun in the first place? In my opinion, this is due to several things.
First of all, the game is fun because of the ridiculous spells and animations. This makes speedrunning, but also watching a speedrun of the game very enjoyable.
Second of all, there is almost always action and movement whilst speedrunning the game. This requires continuous attention: 1 second of distraction could be fatal.
Third of all, a lot of skill is required to get good runs. There are several reasons for this:
1) There are no huge glitches that allow you to skip big chunks of the game. The glitches that are used are quite difficult to perform effectively.
2) Controlling your tribe is difficult, especially when in war. Good micro-management of your army is hard to pull off because the battles are insanely chaotic.
3) The AoE of spells is difficult to predict. One slightly over- or underestimated AoE can be the difference between an amazing run and just another failed attempt.
4) The levels are never 100% the same: there's a lot of randomness in the game. This makes you improvise quite often, promoting skill instead of sheer grinding.
The last thing that makes 'Populous: The Beginning' a good game to speedrun is the in-game timer. It's accurate and stops when you pause. This makes timing runs very easy.
Now, before I move on to the level breakdown I want you to know some words.
The act of casting a fireball on a moving boat. This makes the boat fly up in the air while remarkably increasing its speed for a few seconds.
Boatbouncing can be used for extra speed only, but also for other purposes such as reaching high ground right next to the water without having to walk around it.
Csoorg stands for 'casting spell out of range glitch'. Casting a spell out of range gives the shaman the ability to reach spots otherwise unreachable.
Csoorging is most commonly used to walk across ledges, but can also be used for other purposes.
Casting a fireball on one of your followers to make it fly into the air is called launching.
Launching has multiple purposes. It is most commonly used to give a temporary speed boost to a follower, making it reach its destination more quickly.
When a follower is selected and the G button is pressed, the selected follower(s) will circle around the shaman, protecting her. I will refer to this as guarding.
Level 1 - 0:42
This is one of the easiest levels to speedrun. Just make sure to launch a brave to the next island to get a quick lightning strike, and get another brave to guard the Shaman. Make two idle braves attack the Dakini brave in front of the Vault of Knowledge. Fireball the Dakini warrior into the water, and make the brave that's guarding the Shaman walk towards the Dakini Shaman. Cast lightning strike on the Dakini Shaman to kill her. When your brave walks right next to the Dakini hut, The Dakini followers should run out trying to attack it. Just try to get a good fireball off and a time of 0:50 shouldn't be hard to get. Nothing really went wrong in this level.
I might have been able to cast the second fireball slightly earlier though, but I highly doubt that it would've changed the time.
Level 2 - 1:39
This is a pretty hard level to speedrun. The Matak get 5 warriors to start off with, who can easily slaughter your Shaman & followers. That is why fireballing the 3 warriors in the hut & tower into the lake is really important. After that, you need to micro-manage your followers extremely well to not mess up (trust me, I'm a professional).
I could have shaved off a second or two at the end: it took me a bit too long to kill the final 2 braves. Other than that, it's a solid run.
Level 3 - 0:43
The easiest level to speedrun. Not much to say, everything went great. Don't forget to launch the last braves for a speed boost ;)
Level 4 - 1:07
An easy level to speedrun, but a lot of luck is needed because the Matak Shaman is able to take a lot of different routes. Csoorging is necessary to arrive at the tower in time, in order to fireball the Matak braves into the water. Fireballing all braves into the water with one fireball looks insanely nonchalant, yet elegant. This will make it seem like you're a skilful player, while in all honesty you were just lucky ;> Finishing off the Matak remains should be a piece of cake.
Level 5 - 1:46
Speedrunning this level doesn't take a lot of skill, but it does take a shit ton of luck. The reason for this is that the script for boatbouncing is random. Usually the boat won't even reach the top of the mountain but will just land on the ledge. Boatbouncing is key to a fast time in this level. Everything went flawless, except the boarding of the boat which was pretty sloppy. I doubt a faster time is possible using this route, and I don't think a faster route is possible, so this is a great run overall.
Level 6 - 2:59
This is a difficult level to speedrun, due to the insane amount of micro-management needed for a good run. The only things that went wrong were the standing still of the Shaman for a few seconds after hypnotizing the warrior, and of course the missed lightning strike at the end (I know, I suck at this game ;) ). A faster time is definitely possible, but unimaginably hard to get since everything else went near-flawless.
Level 7 - 2:17
The only thing that separates a good level 7 speedrun from a bad level 7 speedrun is the amount of converted braves. 20 is pretty damn good, which caused my land bridge to charge quickly. This kind of snowballs into a faster destruction of the Chumara because the faster you get there, the less advanced the settlement is and the less braves have to be dealt with.
Level 8 - 1:34
Not a difficult level to speedrun at all, just make sure to kill the Dakini warriors before they kill your braves. Everything went according to plan.
Level 9 - 2.48
Easy level to speedrun, just get as many braves as possible like in level 7. Killing all the Chumara braves sometimes gets annoying because of the fog of war, but after a few tries you get the hang of it. Make sure your braves are guarding your Shaman for maximum mana production. Apart from some slightly imperfect micro-management everything went great.
Level 10 - 1:42
Insanely difficult level to speedrun, at least for me. You just need to do so many things at a time... :< *An extremely lucky convert* cough! With my insanely skilful convert at the end, this run is near perfect :D
Level 11 - 2.51
Not a difficult nor an easy level to speedrun. Getting the boat to the Matak as soon as possible is key. Also, Don't forget to boatjump! ^^
I could have killed the Chumara Shaman a bit faster, but overall a solid run.
Level 12 - 14.47
You start off with nothing, 2 enemy tribes start off with a shit ton of followers & buildings, and 1 enemy tribe starts out with nothing too.
Also, you are not connected to any settlements at the start of the game. This makes it impossible to get a 'fast' time on this map. Start off by converting the Chumara braves using preachers. Just grow your settlement on the Chumara's ground and go from there. Defeating the Dakini before the Matak is the way to go. I could have shaved off some seconds by invading the Matak earlier, but since everything else went pretty much perfect this is a solid run anyway.
Level 13 - 2.42
THE BOAT HUT. Don't forget about the damn boat hut. I've lost count of how many times the run went near-perfect at the Matak, but I forgot about the boat hut. The Chumara settlement grows insanely fast, so you need to get to the Chumara as fast as possible after defeating the Matak. Don't forget boatjump, and convert a lot of wildmen in the Chumara's settlement. Everything went great this time around; this is definitely one of my best runs.
Level 14 - 4:47
This is probably the weirdest level to speedrun. You're up against all 3 tribes, that all take a long walk to get to. Nevertheless, I managed to get a great time :D
The key to having a good run on this level is, again, great micro-management combined with luck. I should have been up the hill near the Dakini settlement earlier, so I could cast land bridge earlier which would ultimately lead to a faster destruction of the Matak and the Chumara. Other than that, it's a fantastic run :>
Level 15 - 3:24
There isn't a lot to say about this level. 2 boats with followers are needed to rescue the Shaman. The time is basically decided by the preaching speed of the preachers.
The only way to get a faster time is to have quicker preach times. Since mine were already really fast, A faster time is almost impossible to get.
Level 16 - 19:23
The second longest level to speedrun. The Chumara and the Dakini both start off with a huge settlement, while you only get 6 braves. Csoorging past the ledge next to the see will enable you to defeat the Matak settlement with ease, since the Matak starts off with only a few followers. After that, growing your settlement is the biggest focus.
Start creating a large army at around 6/7 minutes and defeating the Dakini and the Chumara in 1 big attack is the way to go. Not a lot went wrong, but in these long runs a lot of imperfections add up. An example of this is the time it took to finish off the last Chumara followers. One of the runs I'm the least proud of, but solid nonetheless.
Level 17 - 7:13
This is a quite difficult level to speedrun. An unfortunate spawning brave in a random hut, for example, can easily mess up your run. The strategy for this level is pretty simple: start off by sending a few followers to pray at the stone head in the middle of the map. This will make all 3 enemies all-in. When the Matak starts walking to the stone head, head over to its settlement and destroy it with some warriors and a bunch of braves. After that, get the Chumara. this should be the easiest settlement to get rid of. After that, killing the Dakini shouldn't be too difficult if you know what you're doing. Once again, a better time is definitely possible with more luck and better micromanagement. However, they both went well in this run which makes it another solid run.
Level 18 - 15:18
Not a hard level to speedrun. The only real way to get a fast run on this level is to win the Armageddon. The Armageddon stone head is located in the Dakini's settlement though, making it hard to reach. That is exactly why invisibility is key to a good speedrun on this level. Using invisibility, Armageddon can be obtained without the Dakini noticing.
Just build an enormous army of warriors and you'll be good to go! The only difficult things in speedrunning this level is getting your invisible warriors past the Dakini preachers and timing the Armageddon well. The first thing went well, but I could have casted Armageddon a bit earlier. Other than that, and of course the ''glitch'' at the end where it takes a long time to kill the final Matak followers, everything went just about perfect.
Level 19 - 7:33
A pretty straight forward level to speedrun. Build up a small settlement, train some preachers and cast magic shield on them to convert the Dakini with no resistance.
Make sure to get the volcano at the stone head for a faster destruction of the Dakini. The killing of the final braves went a bit sluggish, but other than that this was a near-perfect run as well.
Level 20 - 12:19
Kind of an awkward level to speedrun. There's almost no space to build up a town, and the Dakini start off with a huge settlement & army. The only way to get a good run on this level is by building on other islands to increase the amount of followers you can have, and using preachers and hypnosis to turn the odds in your favour.
Getting a free Angle of Death from the Vault of Knowledge is a great idea too. Just about everything went right in this run; I don't have anything in particular to complain about.
Level 21 - 14:15
Not too much to say about this level really... Make sure to get volcano before you invade the main Dakini settlement, and get the tiny Dakini village before the main settlement.
Solid run, nothing to complain about :>
Level 22 - 1:46
'OH MY GOD GRUBBY HOW DID YOU GET THAT TIME?' I don't know... EVERYTHING went perfect. I'm still speechless. This time is absolutely ridiculous.
Level 23 - 3:35
Another great run, this was one of the most enjoyable levels to speedrun for me. Multitasking and micromanaging well is key to getting a good run on this level. I did both almost flawlessly in this one, hence the great time!
Level 24 - 22:45
GOD I hate speedrunning this level. All tribes start off with a HUGE settlement and army while you start off with a few huts and braves. Not ideal at all. Destructing order:
Matak -> Chumara -> Dakini. You actually need to defend you settlement in this level for a change. Pretty good run, although I can't help but feel like it took too long to get rid of the Matak.
Level 25 - 9:23
Very difficult level to speedrun. Go for the Matak last, since they won't invade your settlement. Use your spells wisely. Destructing order: Dakini -> Chumara -> Matak.
The finishing off of the Chumara and Matak was kind of sloppy, but this is a great run anyways.
Total time over 25 levels: 2:39:18
As this was my first time speedrunning a game, I must admit it went a lot different than I expected beforehand. A lot more time goes into speedrunning than I could have ever imagined before I started this project. I didn't keep track of the time I spent on the whole process of getting this game on SDA, but I reckon it's been 200 hours at least. The weird thing is, I enjoyed every single second of it. Even during the frustrating moments I knew it would be worth it in the end. To answer the question what to expect from me in the future, I don't think I will be speedrunning a game ever again. This is quite frankly because speedrunning is a waste of time. It takes so damn long to even reach an acceptable level on any game, that I won't be bothered to start this process all over again. However, despite spending way too much time on this project, I have zero regrets :>
Without the following people, I probably wouldn't have started, let alone finished this project. Special thanks to:
- Fransiscus Johan Dietrich
- My homies on the popre.net forums
- My brothers on the SDA forum
- All verifiers
- The complete SDA Team
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed making it :>
I hereby salute you one last time from the Netherlands, wishing you a great further existence.
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