Morpheus scraped its way to a ZZAP! Sizzler award... decent, but probably not what was hoped for. But depending on who had reviewed it, it might have not even garnered that... some would suggest a Sizzler was overly generous, and that maybe it was awarded out of a sense of duty, with the game having been subject of a Diary of a Game. I would counter that such a suggestion was harsh... Morpheus is an epic game that takes a long, long time to get into and appreciate, and ZZAP!'s review pointed out that it would not hold universal appeal.
It would be interesting to know how Andrew Braybrook felt about it when all was said and done. Perhaps it burnt him out on the space shooter genre, because his next (and ultimately his last) game on the Commodore 64 turned out to be nothing like that. It was, instead, a single-screen collect 'em up, and it was called Intensity.
Doesn't look all that intense...
There's still a spacey element to the game, as you might expect. Colonists are stranded on their, um, colonies, and with no course of action remaining other than evacuation, you're tasked with piloting the rescue mission. A drone ship is placed on the exterior of each space station. The colonists will emerge from doors and run towards this... hurray, safety beckons!
Once you have saved the requisite number, the exit portal will be activated. You must use your skimmer to guide the now-heaving-with-colonists drone to that exit. This task is simple enough... if you press the fire button, the drone will move to the point at which you summoned it. There's a bit of a problem, though. If the drone hits your skimmer, both will explode. So once you've pressed that button, you'd best leg it, sharpish.
The exit has been activated. Save them!
You don't have to go directly to the exit, and indeed, there are times when you can't, such is the layout of some of the colonies. Why they litter the exteriors of space stations with obstacles is beyond me. You'll also find yourself skimming backwards and forwards between points, picking up a colonist here then heading over to get one from there. It's reminiscent of Choplifter in a way, albeit from a different viewpoint.
Naturally there's a little more to it than that. The colonists are evacuating for a reason, and that reason manifests itself in the skies above each space station. Alien critters meander about, causing bother wherever they may roam. In a nod back to Gribbly's Day Out, the alien critters mutate into stronger, more dangerous forms, if left to their own devices. Luckily you can turn them into space roadkill by just flattening them with your skimmer.
Things are getting a little more complicated now...
That's the game, in a rather large nutshell. There are other bells and whistles... saving colonists releases resources which you can pick up and spend between levels, for instance. But after the sprawling epic that was Morpheus, it comes as a huge surprise to find such a small-scale, tight and focused game. There's no shooting (another surprise), and the single-screen action, whilst initially a little confusing, doesn't take long to click. Once it does, it's very enjoyable indeed, and it gets quite frantic just a few levels in. Considering I'd never played it before, I picked it up in no time, played it for ages and had loads of fun with it.
You're dying to fly a Manta over that and blast everything, aren't you?
Intensity proved to be the last game Andrew Braybrook would write on the Commodore 64. It's a bit of an underrated gem in my opinion, and as such it unfortunately provided something of a low-key swansong. He certainly deserved to leave the scene with a very large bang, having provided some of the greatest gaming moments of its history. Gribblets, Paradroids and Dreadnaughts will forever be remembered fondly by a public that bought in on gaming to a massive degree at the time, and Andrew Braybrook will be remembered as one of the brightest stars of the era.
That's not the end of my look back at Andrew Braybrook, though. I've got a few other things I want to get out there, and then I'm going to come back and round up his Special Editions, and there just might be a sneaky look at something on the Amiga...