That’s right. After all these years, I’ve finally managed to complete this amazing classic god game. Populous: The Beginning has always been one of my favorites, but it has also been a thorn in my side, since I never even finished half of it as a kid. Thanks to the magic of Good Old Games, I could finally do it and it was worth every single one of the many hours I’ve spent doing it.

Journey’s End

Journey’s End was technically the last level I needed to complete before my shaman could finally realize her plan and become a god. It was definitely not an easy one.

I started out on a small piece of land on a peninsula surrounded by the three enemy tribes. While I only had a few huts, all of them already had pretty much fully built settlements. Even worse, those that didn’t have a nice route towards me were just a Land Bridge away, which the Matak nicely demonstrated just a minute or two into the level.

I started immediately charging my own Land Bridge so I could create some extra room for my buildings. At first, I used my shaman and her spells to repel the early attacks, but I rushed to get a fire warriors training hut as well as a balloon hut as soon as I could. This was a huge gamble since I was low on room already, but it paid of. Once I had a few airborne fire warriors, I could repel the enemy attacks more easily and now actually had time to charge up the crucial spells I needed, such as Swamp.

Populous - Journey's End

The starting location was NOT a good place to be in.

Pretty soon, the Chumara started attacking with balloons of their own, but lucky for me, I already had a small force of fire warriors and, since they used a mixed force of attackers, I could easily take care of their shaman and then pick off the ground forces without any difficulty.

This got me a huge fleet of stolen balloons, so I trained up even more fire warriors and decided to go after the Matak, since they seemed the weakest and their lands seemed to have plenty of trees which I lacked. This turned out to be the correct strategy, so the Matak were destroyed pretty soon.

Now I could finally build up my village properly on the Matak terrain, so that was exactly what I did, using my shaman in the meantime to do some harassment. Once I had an even bigger flying army I could use, I started focusing on the Dakini and the Chumara in order. They managed to repel a couple of attacks and even started a few counter attacks, but eventually, I worn both of the tribes down and managed to defeat them. The Chumara were definitely the hardest, since they had access to balloons of their own and also loved creating fire warriors.


Populous - The Beginning

Time to get my godhood…

In any case, the level and technically the game, were both won. I wasn’t done yet, though.

The Beginning

I got myself a bonus level to play with. The beginning is a level where every tribe, including my own, has a fully built up village. The catch was, I was in the middle of all of them. The fun part of it was that my shaman was now a god.  What this meant was that I could cast any of my spells on any point of the map, as long as I had the mana for it. Fun times!

To be completely honest, I wasn’t ready for this kind of power. My first two tries failed miserably, because I though I could just focus on my spells and ignore my village. I guess I wouldn’t be a very good god, because I missed the part where I needed villagers to get mana for my spells.

Eventually, I figured this out, so I started focusing on building up my population and defending until I could increase my mana income enough to go on the offensive. I focused on sinking the routes towards my village, being careful to keep the trees growing on those routes on my side of the sea. Once I got rid of one tribe’s route of attack, I could more easily defend against the other two. Once all of them were gone, I was finally able to go on the offensive.

And what a glorious offensive it was!

No sinking this time. I cast a charge of swamp on the three places where the enemy shamans loved to hang out and then used the huge amount of mana I was getting to obliterate everything. Volcano, Angel of Death, Firestorm, Tornado, Earthquake… Everything was used and no one was spared.

The Dakini went down first, followed by the Matak, keeping the Chumara for last. They were a bit stubborn, hiding the last few of their villagers on various parts of the map, but eventually, I exterminated every single last one of them. The universe was mine.


I’ve slacked off for almost a week now, but I finally made myself do a write-up about the next two Populous: The Beginning levels I’ve managed to complete.


Solo was one of my favorite levels. All I had at my disposal here was my shaman and I needed to use her to destroy all three of the enemy tribes. Luckily, I had some spells ready right at the start, and I could also  pray at various obelisks to recharge my spells or gain other important bonuses.

I started out right next to the Dakini, so I used a Tornado, some Lightning and then mostly Blast to completely destroy the small village they had. Once they were out of the way, I could focus on the Matak and the Chumara.

I used a boat left behind by the Dakini to get to the Chumara island and then created a path to one of their balloons with the Land Bridge. Once I was in the baloon, I was ready to do my thing. Some Erodes, Earthquakes, a Volcano and a Tornado were enough to get rid of the Chumara, but I also cast an Angel of Death for good measure.

Populous - Solo

Thanks to my balloon, I didn’t even need this last obelisk.

Luckily, the Matak were relatively near, so my dragon just moved on to kill them once the Chumara were gone. I joined him, but only after I prayed at one of the obelisks for some extra mana. Pretty soon, the Matak were destroyed to and I didn’t even have to pray at the last obelisk to destroy them.

An awesome level, but it didn’t take long to beat. Funny thing, though. I had a few Chumara warriors hypnotized when I destroyed them, which made the warriors completely fall under my command. If I had a brave among them, I could’ve probably built up my base just like in any other level. As it was, I just used them to get an extra charge or two of Blast.


Inferno was a level with an extremely dark and creepy atmosphere. The planet had oceans of blood and you could actually hear screams when the camera was above the ocean.

I started out on a massive continent shared between the Dakini, the Matak and myself, with the Chumara on a smaller continent of their own. The Dakini and the Matak mostly ignored me and instead fought themselves, though I did have to fend off a couple of air assaults from the Dakini. The most annoying part were definitely the Chumara, though, with their constant wave of spies being sent to destroy my buildings.

I manage do defend well enough for my village to grow and eventually created a huge wall of balloons and towers to defend against my two neighbors. A bunch of well placed airborne fire warriors also started clearing Chumara spies before they could reach my shore.

Populous - Inferno

I actually used a small force of fire warriors to clear the level a bit faster. They work, as long as the enemy shaman doesn’t get to close.

Once my shaman was airborne and I had enough mana, I started sinking the Dakini first, so their shaman’s reincarnation site was soon separated from the rest of their village. I placed a couple of fire warriors above the site, so the shaman was reduced to a mana battery.

Then I cast some destruction spells on the Matak, before I moved on to completely clear the Chumara. This took a while, but wasn’t very hard. After about half an hour, I returned to the Matak and destroyed them next, saving the Dakini and their mana battery for last.

Again, I have to say this, Populous is an awesome game!

I’m getting close to the end here! Another two levels of Populous: The Beginning, I finally managed to write about.


Archipelago is the perfect name for this level. The Dakinia were the only tribe I had to face here, but they had a huge advantage compared to how and where I started. I had a tiny island, surrounded by other tiny islands, while they had a fully built up village on a large continent.

After converting the few wildmen on my own island, I managed to get another few on a nearby island, so I started building up two smaller villages at the same time. I also immediately began charging Land Bridge, so I can connect a few of the islands together.

Populous - Archipelago

I’m getting close to that awesome final level!

Pretty soon, the Dakini started attacking via boats, so I had to repel the first couple attacks with the blast spell alone. As soon as I had the room, I built a Fire Warriors training hut and trained a couple of fire warriors to place on the hill next to my reincarnation site. This made the attacks easier to handle, but I wasn’t completely safe until I built six guard towers and placed the fire warriors inside.

By that point, my plateau was starting to get formed and I finally had a good enough mana income to keep growing my land mass at a decent rate. Once I was ready, I couldn’t do my usual thing, sadly, since I didn’t have access to the balloon hut on this level. Instead, I first sneaked my shaman into the knowledge vault to learn the Angel of Death spell and then started sneakily flattening and lowering the closest part of the enemy island. Once I got rid of all the high grounds I could, I started expanding my plateau towards the enemy and placed a large amount of fire warriors on this strip of high ground.

From this location, I could easily target most of the village with my spells, so after another ten minutes, the level was won.

Fractured Earth

Fractured Earth was a fun, but somewhat difficult level, which I had to repeat several times, mostly due to not completely realizing what was going on and what I needed to do on my first couple of tries. The level was volcanic, with oceans replaced with lava. It was also covered in fissures which periodically erupted, basically causing Volcanoes and Earthquakes to be cast on the location of the eruption. The only way to stop this from happening was to cast Flatten on the spot and seal the fissure.

Populous - Fractured Earth

The amount of red makes the level seem really dark and scary.

This was also the level where I was finally able to learn the Volcano spell, which is awesome, but doesn’t really agree with my usual strategy of sinking the enemy, since it leaves behind a huge land mass after the volcano is done. It also casts a lot of mana, so I only used it once on the level, as close to the middle of the enemy village as I could.

I got the Volcano early and after that, I started focusing on defense, until I was finally able to start wrecking havoc with my shaman. As usual, I had my defense of fire warriors at my village and a trigger happy shaman with a charged Erode spell do their thing and in about 30 minutes, the level was cleared.

Did I mention Populous: The Beginning is a great game? Because it is!

Another few days and another couple of levels I got the time to write about, even though I completed these levels of Populous: The Beginning a few days ago. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or just lack of time, but it’s probably laziness.

Head Hunter

Head Hunter was another level with the Armageddon spell available, though this time, it wasn’t as obvious as with Middle Ground. It wasn’t a very difficult level and the approach to it was mostly classic. The difference was that I had very little room next to my reincarnation site, so I had to build a guard tower to be able to build huts faster. Eventually, I crossed the narrow bay nearby to a higher area with more trees and this is where I built up the largest part of my village. That is, I did this after I got rid of a group of Chumara fire warriors who managed to dig in at the top of the hill.

Populous - Head Hunters

Starting at this spot meant I had to waste a lot of wood to build a guard tower.

I rushed to get some fire warriors ready and started building up my village as much as I could. About fifteen minutes later, I had a decent village and my shaman was in his balloon, starting to wreak havoc on the enemy villages. I’m probably boring you here, so I’ll keep it short. I did what I always do. I used my shaman to sink the enemy villages into the see, while producing more and more balloons and filling them with fire warriors for defense.

The Chumara kept trying to pray at the Armageddon stone head and their shaman was part of the prayer group, so that was a nice, constant source of extra mana. I didn’t even need to place Swamp at the head, since the praying always took long enough for me to get there myself and clear the area with Lightning.

Once I was fine with how week the tribes became, I prayed at the heady myself and cast Armageddon.

Unlikely Allies

Unlikely Allies was the first and only level where I had an ally in the form of an extremely weak Chumara tribe. Lucky for me, this meant I wasn’t attacked at all in the early game. Unlucky for me, the Chumara really was weak and useless, so I was forced to defend them.


Populous - Unlikely Allies

Once my ally was safe, I began creating my plateau.

After barely repelling some attacks with my shaman, mostly thanks to the three charges of Teleport I got by praying at a stone head, I managed to scrape enough mana together to place some swamps on the narrow path between the Dakini and the Chumara. This gave me enough time to form a balloon squad of fire warriors and place them at the edge of the plateau leading up to the Chumara village. This force was enough to repel most of the attacks from then on, so I was able to finally focus on my village.

At this point, the Dakini started using boats to attack me, so I had to build up defenses at home as well. After about an hour of light play, I transformed my entire continent into a single, large plateau and then started focusing on completely sinking the Dakini. In another fifteen minutes, the level was won.

I’m not sure if I said this, but Populous: The Beginning is an awesome game.

As usual, here’s a write-up on two more levels I managed to complete in Populous: The Beginning. I’m actually a few levels ahead from my blog, but I haven’t completed the game yet. I  hope I’ll get there soon, though.


Bloodlust is by far the hardest level I had to play through. Even now that I’m 4-5 levels ahead, I still consider it the hardest yet. From this point on, the enemy tribes started attacking with large armies instead of small raid groups. Even worse, I was basically surrounded. I actually had to restart the level several times before I finally managed to beat it.

After a few tries, thanks to a few well placed Swamps, I managed to build up a defensive force of fire warriors, so I could build in piece from then on. After that, I tried to do the usual by building up my village, strengthening the defenses and harassing with my shaman and her spells. It wasn’t working out as well as it used to, though, since I was getting attacked from all sides. Because of this, it basically turned into a war of attrition.

Populous - Bloodlust Level

No amount of fire warriors was able to stop the attacks from all sides.

Eventually, I weakened the enemy villages enough to cut the amount of attacks, so I was able to sink most of the Matak into the sea. With them out of the way, I focused on the other two villages in order, and the level was beaten.

My reward? The Bloodlust spell. I honestly haven’t used it once. I’m sure it’s good enough, but since I don’t fight any battles, I didn’t need it.

Middle Ground

Compared to Bloodlust, Middle Ground was a cakewalk. It was also a very, very awesome level. Each tribe started on one peninsula of a large island, with the four peninsulas joining in the middle, around a stone head.

Most of the time, the three tribes were fighting against each other, so I could build in peace and manage most of my defenses with the swamp spell. Eventually, I even managed to create a small plateau where I built a few towers and places some balloons.

I knew what the stone head in the middle contained – Armageddon. Armageddon is a very special spell. It creates a huge crater and teleports every living thing (other than the wildmen) into it to fight to the death. Whichever tribe survives, wins the level.

Populous - Armageddon

Armageddon is the best thing in this awesome game.

I didn’t want to risk it, though, so before I used the spell, I decided to weaken the other tribes a bit. I cast a few Earthquakes and Erodes, which was enough to severely reduce the enemy populations. I cast the spell in the middle of the island and a couple of minutes later, victory was mine.

Populous - Prison Building

I played through levels 14 and 15 a few days ago, but I didn’t get a chance to write about it, so here goes.

Attacked From All Sides

Level 14, Attacked From All Sides, had the theme of me being in an extremely bad position, with the three other tribes basically surrounding me. I started out on a small piece of low ground attached to a large plateau occupied by the Matak.

Populous - Level 14, World Map

That’s a nice plateau you have there…

Suffice to say, I would not have lasted long without taking some early risks. I trained up a few preachers after quickly building a temple. As soon as I had a couple ready, I took the entire population of my village and attacked the Matak. They didn’t have a chance to train anything dangerous yet, so I killed their shaman and destroyed the village. In a few minutes, I went from a horrible position to probably my favorite position – being an a high plateau with no one nearby.

I wasn’t left alone for long, though. As soon as I started building up my village, the air raids from the other two tribes started. I built up a few towers on key locations and then started creating a flying fire warrior army and distributing balloons throughout my village. Soon enough, nothing could touch me. I kept expanding the plateau with spells and building more huts and defenses until I got tired of it.

I tried with a few actual assaults with my army, but it turns out I suck at  micromanagement in this game, so I resorted to my old methods. My defense was solid, so I put my shaman in a balloon and started obliterating everything with spells. As usual, it took me over an hour, but I won the level without much difficulty.


Level 15, Incarcerated, is considered the most difficult level in Populous by a lot of the fans. Honestly, I don’t share this opinion, probably because of my playing style. I have no issues with figuring out the intended way of beating the level and I play patiently on the regular levels, but on the other hand, I’m bad at micromanagement in large battles.

In this case, I lost on my first attempt because I came up about 30 seconds to short, but on my second try, I beat it easily.

Populous - Prison Building

The prison is a special building. I haven’t seen the later levels yet, but I think you only get to see it here.

Basically, my shaman was imprisoned by the enemy tribe, so had to use what little of my people I had to free her and get my revenge. I trained a nice mix of preachers, warriors and fire warriors, built a total of three boats and started ferrying my army to the three guard towers protecting the beach where the prison was.

I actually increased the size of my army while destroying the towers thanks to my preachers and then I started landing on the beach, waiting for everyone to regroup on a single location. Once most of the army was there, I destroyed the few remaining enemy forces there and freed my shaman.

This canceled the timer, so I could freely pray at a nearby obelisk and get a shot of Volcano. All that was left was to climb on top of a nearby hill and cast Volcano in the middle of the enemy village. Level complete!

Now comes the hard part. The next four levels I can pick freely from, but all of them are much harder than anything I managed to beat up to now.

I didn’t get a lot of chances to play over the last few days, but I managed to squeeze in two more levels of Populous: The Beginning.

From the Depths

Level 10, named “From the Depths”, I actually managed to fail, several times, mostly due to carelessness and lack of attention. The level starts out with your village being sunk by a barrage of spells from the enemy shaman. You’re supposed to react in time to gather your shaman and some soldiers and escape via a boat. On my first try, I was distracted when the level loaded, so I died outright. Since there’s no way to resurrect your shaman, that was an automatic failure.

On my second try, I managed to get a bunch of soldiers to a boat, and even managed to build another boat in time, so I had a sizable force. Once I escaped, I could then pray at a nearby totem pole, which raises a whole new village from the depths, with a bunch of prebuilt buildings and even some savages to convert. This time, I was safe, so I started building up and opted to go for the “take your time and build up huge numbers tactic”. Obviously, I didn’t notice there was a time limit for the level, after which the island sinks back to the bottom of the sea, so this was my second failure.

On my third try, I was mostly aware of everything, managed to squeeze in three boats in total and had a relatively huge force ready for some payback. I filled a bunch of boats with warriors, fire warriors and preachers, including my shaman, and attacked the enemy village. A couple of enemy fire warriors hit my shaman and threw him into the ocean. Again, since there was no resurrection on this level, it was another automatic failure, simply because I forgot to use spells.

On my last try, I finally used the swarm spell to disable the fire warriors and managed to pray at the enemy village totem pole, which sunk most of their village into the sea. I killed of the stragglers and that was it.

Treacherous Souls

Level 11, named “Treacherous Souls” was more of a classical level. I had two tribes to fight, and each of them had a new spell I could learn. One of them was Hypnotize, which is where the name for the level comes from. I used the patient approach for this level, which is my preferred tactic in Populous: The Beginning. I connected the hills around my village with Land Bridge and eventually created a huge, well defended mesa which the AI would only attack from one or two directions. I covered these choke points with towers, which basically put me into a completely safe position.

Populous, Guard Tower Defense Line

Very little can break through this defense line.

Once I decided I was ready, I trained a sizable force of preachers, warriors and fire warriors, ordered them to guard my shaman and slowly started creating Land Bridge access to the enemy villages. Thanks to my fire warriors and the high ground, I could easily destroy any army the enemy tribes could throw at me. I attacked the weaker tribe first, which got me the Swamp spell. I then used my new spell to destroy the remaining tribe and that was it. It took me a long time, but the level was easily beaten.

One thing is for sure, though. I’m definitely appreciating the ability to save in multiple slots, at any time and almost instantly. The fact that the PlayStation version of Populous: The Beginning had only one slot, and it took five to ten minutes to save basically meant you had to do the whole level in one go, and nearly perfectly. With fast and instant saves, It’s easier to take risks and you feel less discouraged if you lose.

Level 9 of Populous, named “Fire in the Mist” was the introductory level for the Fog of War concept. It actually functions a bit differently in Populous, compared to your typical RTS. At the start, you can see the terrain under the fog, but no movement or buildings. Once you uncover an area, though, no line of sight is required to keep it uncovered – from that point on, you can see everything as if there was no fog of war to begin with.

Other than the fog of war, the level also introduced the shipyard, which allow you to build your own boats. The Chumara tribe used this ability several times, attacking me from sides I didn’t expect them from. At one point, they even managed to drop a Volcano spell on me, destroying a big part of my village.

Once I repelled that attack, I decided to have some fun with base building. I used the tall mountain created by the eruption to start creating a huge mesa for my village with Land Bridge. This took me a long time, but eventually, I had a huge mountain I could build on, with very little threat from the Chumara. Once I built a few guard towers on the edges, no one could even get near me. As I said, this took me a very long time to do, so I actually played this level for nearly two hours before I completed it, but I had fun, so I really didn’t mind the time spent.

Populous, Level 9, World View

As I said, I created a huge mesa.

Eventually, I had to complete the level the way it was intended to be beaten. I stole a single boat after repelling one of the attacks and used it to take my shaman to the peninsula on the edge of the Chumara village. This is where I their vault of knowledge was, so I was able to learn the plans for the shipyard without much trouble. Once that was done, I made a few of my own boats and sent braves around the map to pray at the various stone heads. This gave me a charge of Earthquake, Tornado and most importantly, Volcano.

With this, I used another boat to sneak my shaman into the back of the Chumara village and climb on a nearby hill. The three spells destroyed most of the coastal village, so over the next ten or fifteen minutes, it was easy to clear out the rest with my army of fire warriors, priests and warriors.

Populous, The Shipyard Building

The shipyard is a pretty cool looking building.

Side Note

I’m kind of missing the voiced narrator from the PlayStation version of Populous: The Beginning. For those unfamiliar with this, the PlayStation version used an actual, real narrator for all the messages the game sends to your sidebar. He had this great, dramatic voice which I absolutely love. Sadly, the PC version uses text messages only.

What I’m not missing, though, is a save system that uses up an entire memory card for just a single slot save. I actually had to buy a whole memory card for just this one game. If I remember correctly, the old Constructor game did the same thing. I think both games were worth it, but it was still a pain, especially considering how long saving and loading took. Back then, I could select “Load Game” and go make myself a sandwich or something.


Levels 7 and 8 of Populous: The Beginning, though probably objectively a bit harder than 6, felt easier to me, since I wasn’t surprised by the rise in difficulty this time.

Unseen Enemy

Level 7, called “Unseen Enemy” was all about a new spell – Invisibility. The enemy shaman already had it, so I needed to get it to, but the level was clearly designed so I don’t get the spell until the end. The whole planet consisted of two continents, with me being on one of them, and the enemy on the other. The enemy shaman knew the Land Bridge spell, so it was just a matter of time, before she got over to my area. To combat this, I could pray at a stone head between our two continents, which would get me charges of the Erosion spell.

Populous Level 7 World View

The continents can be connected on two sides, while the central island contains the stone head.

Instead, I  just built a tower on the tallest hill at the center of my continent and built my village around it. I had a few attacks, but with my shaman being in the tower, I could easily fight of any major attack with a well placed lightning. Eventually, I gathered a small army and went to the stone head, just so I could make a quick shortcut towards the center of the enemy village, but the enemy shaman got a lucky shot and killed the entire squad, including my shaman. About ten minutes later, I did it again, and this time obliterated him.

Continental Divide

Level 8, “Continental Divide” was much more fun. First of all, this was the level where I could finally get the plans for the Fire Warriors training site. The whole planet was actually a single landmass this time, with a bunch of smaller or larger lakes on it. There was plenty of hills around my village, so I immediately started using Land Bridge to create what was basically an impenetrable wall. A couple of well placed towers on top of the wall meant I didn’t need to worry about any attacks.

Populous Level 8 World View

The village can be defended amazingly well, with proper use of Land Bridge

Thanks to some stealthy play, I managed to sneak around the enemy village and learn the building plans without any losses, so I filled the towers with fire warriors. Once I got the two stone heads, one of which gave me Magical Shield and the other Tornado, I finally built up a small army and obliterated the enemy village in record time. The three tornadoes destroyed most of it, while my fire warriors cleared the rest. It was a big village, so it took some time to kill of the stragglers, but after a few minutes, the level was over.

Now Let’s Talk

This can’t be bias. Nostalgia cannot be the reason I’m enjoying this game so much. It has some bad, old school design choices, the controls can be annoying, but the game is just so much fun I don’t mind the flaws one bit. The level length is just about right to play through one at a time and the new spells and buildings are arriving at a nice pace Everything just clicks into place, in spite of all the issues old games have. Heck, I’m playing it in software mode in 800×600 and the graphics don’t bother me one bit.

Popuolous Save/Load Menu

The ease of saving is definitely an advantage over the PlayStation version.

I know Molyneux has hyped up his games for over a decade now, I know he almost never delivers, but God, I hope Godus is half as fun as Populous.

Not much time today, so I just played through the sixth level of populous. This one actually provided some challenge, but mostly due to the two opponents being annoying than anything else. The problem was, it was the first time for me to face two enemy tribes at once, but it’s still early in the game, so I can’t put up proper defenses against one tribe, while I’m off attacking the other.

Populous: The Beginning, Puzzle

The stone head grants Hypnosis, which can be used to control an enemy warrior on an island with a totem pole, which then casts land bridge between the two enemy tribes.

Because of this, I had to fall back several times, simply to stop one of the tribes from destroying to much of my village. The point of the level actually isn’t to fight against bot tribes at once. Instead, if you pray at the proper totem pole, you create a bridge between their two areas, causing them to attack each other. The problem is, this doesn’t always work, and it definitely doesn’t work all the time.

After some minor attacks, I decided to go destroy the Chumara (yellow) first, and then move on to the Matak (green). Of course, my memory being what it is, I might be completely messing up the names and the colors. Just to give myself another opportunity to make a mistake, there are three tribes in the game:

Enemy tribe colors in Populous, The Beginning:

  • Chumara- Yellow
  • Matak – Green
  • Dakini – Red

There! If I messed up, I’ll fix it later.

In any case, I eventually beat them, but it took me about an hour in total. Once I get the fire warriors, I’ll probably be able to defend my village better, allowing me to focus on offense. In any case, the game can be challenging now, but it still feels way easier than what I remember. I don’t think I got past the first ten or so levels as a kid.