I’d been waiting on Mike Hanson from Psychotic Software to finish up his Power Up game since he first announced the Kickstarter. He promised to mash up two of my favorite things from gaming past to present–side-scrolling space shooters with some lite RPG leveling elements. Let’s see how it turned out in this latest Gamer Category Review.
The Action Junkie - Right off the top, Power up very clearly caters to action junkies. The action is chaotic, fast paced and just long enough to maintain the funfactor without wearing out its welcome. Psychotic Software did an excellent job making the shoot-and-move mechanics smooth as butter, so there’s no need to worry about handling frustrations during the few bullet-hell moments.
The Strategist - PsySoft adds flavor to this otherwise simplistic genre by giving the player several different weapon options to use in combat. You get: standard lasers; plasma fire that does hella damage but requires you to move danger-close to your enemies; spread lasers; and even projectiles that protect you from enemies above and below you. This variety allows the player a decent amount of tactical options to fight without relying on the simple shoot-and-dodge mechanics of older games in this genre.
The Builder – Builders will enjoy the simplistic leveling system Power Up employs. On the battle screen, you’ll have several opportunities to pick up power-ups that will enhance whatever weapon you are using at the time. This system gives the player a sense of progression and a motivation to keep playing beyond just beating levels.
The Bookworm - Believe it or not, PsySoft actually adds minor interactive story elements to the fray. These elements are not remarkable by any stretch, but the characters definitely have personality and help add context to all the shooting.
The Tourist - Power Up is made for Tourists. It’s a quick, fun game that will take you about an hour to complete if you are good. While that may sound discouraging, anything past an hour would be tedious, especially given the fact that this game has no continue feature if you lose all your lives.
Audiophiles & Visualists - The visuals in Power Up are mostly clean and simple. The sounds are sharp and the soundtrack fits the game well. Unfortunately, with quality headphones on, there was quite a bit of distortion caused by the in-game music. However, I’m not 100% positive whether the distortion was caused by the gain levels on my headphones or the mixing and mastering of the soundtrack.
Overall, I had a blast during my short time with Power Up. I had been looking forward to the game for quite some time, and PsySoft definitely delivered the goods. For $1.00 you could certainly do worse. Whether or not you should jump in depends on two fundamental questions. First, do you enjoy side-scrolling space shooters? Second, are you OK with the fact that if you lose all your lives before reaching the end, you’ll start all the way back at the beginning with none of your power-ups in tow? If you answered yes to both questions, then I’m comfortable recommending Power Up to you.