As I said, I was able to enjoy the game once the issue was fixed, so I did!
Over the course of a couple of days and a total of maybe two hours, I managed to complete the first five levels. I am now absolutely sure that my skills in gaming have in fact improved compared to my skills as a kid. Playing old NES and Sega games of my youth as an adult sometimes made me think my reflexes worsened or something. Now, I’m pretty sure I just had more willpower and time to push through my failures. It was all about playing it over and over again until you memorize the pattern.
Populous is a strategy game, though, so it wasn’t all about the reflexes. Still, in my youth, I played it on the PlayStation, meaning I had to use the dual shock controller instead of a mouse. Suffice to say, it was really hard to micromanage anything.
Boy, my mind really started wondering for a moment there. What I actually meant to say was that the first six levels felt extremely easy and not at all as hard as I remembered them. The fifth level, Death From Above, I remembered as especially difficult. Basically, you had a time limit and only a limited number of people and spells. The goal was to get to the back of a huge enemy village and pray at the statue there to summon a bunch of dragons. I was stuck at this part for weeks and eventually only managed to get through it by “cheating”. I used a boat to get to the back of the village, somehow tricked the game into letting me land at the bottom of a cliff and then used a land bridge spell to create a path to the top.
This time, I did it the proper way and I succeeded on my first try. I’m not sure if the mouse made it that much easier, or if my skills in strategy games improved over the years, but overall, the game seems much easier than the game I remember.
It’s still fun, though, so I’ll continue to play it every now and then.