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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: PowerUp Forever
By: | February 21st, 2009 | XBLA
Review |X360

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PowerUp Forever is yet another shooter for the Arcade platform. The gameplay is part Spore, part Sinistar, and part Geometry Wars. Confused yet? It’ll all make sense soon, but despite how grand it sounds, it’s hard to justify a purchase. Read on to find out why.

PowerUp takes a little bit of everything. It uses the “grow bigger with each phase” mechanic of the first part of spore; essentially starting you out as a microscopic organism, and eventually “evolving” you into a larger being. It also uses core mechanics found in the arcade classic Sinistar, as well as the fast paced shooting and the art style of Geometry Wars. The main purpose of the game is simple. Each level is free roaming, and takes place in the same “world map”. In order to beat a level, you have to destroy enough parasites (squids) to “call out” (piss off) a guardian. Defeat the guardian, and not only do you collect his power, but you advance to the next stage. Do this 20 times, and you win!

The game looks beautiful in terms of pure graphics, and art style. The backgrounds change drastically with each stage, and many of them look like they could be on sale in a gallery. The menus are a bit on the clunky side, but they get the job done. The real disappointment in terms of Powerup’s presentation is the designs. Your ship is incredibly uninspired, is entirely blue, and your weapons and shield are also dull looking. If you’re expecting the enemy designs to give you solace, hide behind a couch, because you’re not going to be happy. Here are the enemies found in PowerUp Forever:

  • Rocks
  • Centipedes
  • Squids
  • A Swirling Ball (I made it a proper noun to jazz it up a bit!)
  • A Ball with tubes on it that shoot bullets
  • “Guardians”, which are exact clones of you, with a slightly different color scheme

I’m not being dramatic, these are literally all of the enemies found in the game. The most elaborate foes to be found are evil doppelgangers of the “Forever” hero, and not the cool kind of doppelganger, like Spidermans’. Powerup Forever takes the easy way out, and instead of creating different enemy models for the later stages, it simply makes the same enemies “bigger”. It’s a cool feeling to eventually grow bigger than the Centipedes, and squish them as you move along, but the feeling quickly subsides after you realize that you just have to fight bigger Centipedes.

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The first time you kill a Guardian, you will feel awesome. That’s not just because you’ll have the rush of killing your first “boss”, but also due to the fact that you get your first upgrade. First you start with your regular blaster, and a bomb attack. Then, your regular blaster gets stronger; you get 2 weapons, and finally, a shield. Your 2 extra weapons are a laser, and a napalm launcher. You won’t be using them at all, except for the Guardians, because they really aren’t effective. The problem with PowerUp Forever’s weapon system is everything, even the bombs, share the same energy bar. The fact that it bills itself as a “maniacal power up shooter”, but makes you budget your power ups boggles the mind.

PowerUp’s level design is also very poorly done. Other than the background, every level looks the same, and they each play the same. Despite the fact that they all look similar, you could randomly have a good or bad experience on each level. Let me give you an example: one level, I was able to find all of the parasites needed to call out the Guardian in about 20 seconds. They were all hanging out in one area, and it was a pretty good feeling. Another level, (earlier that same game), took me 5 minutes to even find one parasite area. I roamed around for what seemed like forever just to find a place to advance to the next level. Here’s the kicker; it’s random!

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The lastibility of the game is one of the worst aspects of PowerUp Forever. Even on easy mode, it feels like a chore. When you finally beat the game, you’ll instantly unlock 3 of its 4 mini-games. Spoiler Alert: They are not enjoyable. Guardian Mode translates into “beat these bosses in a row, without playing the level”, and that’s what the rest of them feel like: tack ons. If you unlock all of the mini-games on your first go, consider yourself lucky. Most gamers will find the gameplay too repetitive to try again for over 40 minutes straight. To add insult to injury, there are no multiplayer modes of any kind, not even online play.

PowerUp Forever has grand aspirations, but falls flat, mainly due to poor design and no content. It’s a shame, because PowerUp is one of the best looking Arcade titles out there, and had a lot going for it. The thing about Spore is when you grew, your enemies drastically changed to accommodate your new size. In PowerUp, having the same enemies over and over does not make for an enjoyable experience, nor does having to budget your weapons in a game that should have been more intense to begin with. If PowerUp was $5, it would make more sense, but with its $10 price tag, you don’t get what you pay for.

Rating Category
5.0 Presentation
Beautiful graphics and art style, but literally every enemy is uninspired.
How does our scoring system work?
7.0 Gameplay
It controls well, but there’s hardly any innovation when it comes to the meat of the game. Having to limit yourself with only 3 total power ups greatly detracts from the fun factor of the game.
5.0 Sound
Generic sounding techno tunes jar the soundtrack, and there are a small handful of different laser sounds.
4.0 Longevity
You literally won’t “want” to beat it again in order to unlock the 4 mini-games that are available, if you don’t do it the first time. Even if you manage to open them, they’re simply shortened versions of the game. No multiplayer options at all is a disappointment.
5.5 Overall
PowerUp Forever brings nothing new to the table other than good looking visuals, and is a chore to complete.

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