Review by vyse_1986

Reviewed: 12/23/08

An OK game you can have some fun with

PowerUp Forever is a top-down shooter with the tried-and-true "left analog stick moves the ship, right stick shoots"-controls that seemingly dozens of XBLA games have utilized by now.

The main difference here is that the game has only one stage that is infinitely big and randomly generated. The goal in each level is to provoke the boss until he decides to go after you personally, then kill him. Upon doing that, your ship grows (actually, the universe around you shrinks) and the game goes on, you defeat the next boss and so on. The game doesn't even attempt to tell you why you are doing that, but that is actually a good thing. There are no cutscenes trying to give you an excuse for playing, just pure gameplay.

The "growing ship" part is marketed as the main innovation of the game, and while there are many games that have done something similar, PowerUp Forever takes it to a new level. Upon growing, common enemies that were weak to begin with become tiny dots that can be squashed by moving your ship over them, big enemies that were a threat suddenly become average guys that die in a few hits, and stale structures that served as obstacles become alive and take the place as the big enemies. The game cycles through several enemy types doing that, and while it's true that there are only very few of them (eleven if you don't count the bosses), they're all unique enough to provide some variety. Some try to cover their weakness with numbers, while others actually put up a decent fight.

Shooting stuff is fun and the game adds some twists that help the game. You don't die in one hit, but there is a life bar that slowly regenerates if you can remain unharmed for a few seconds. This is meant to prevent instant death, but sadly, you still end up dying spontaneously most of the time. Scarabs and bosses sometimes close in on you and crush you under an avalanche of bullets within split-seconds, usually ending a game that lasted for more than 20 minutes, and that's just frustrating. The other huge problem is that the whole scoring system is based on luck. There's a score multiplier and to keep it up, you have to finish a level within a certain time limit. To lure out the boss, you have to shoot a certain enemy type, and you can sometimes roam around for minutes without finding them, resulting in a lost multiplier. Considering how each game is fully randomized, there's absolutely nothing you can do about that.

== Closing Comments ==
PowerUp Forever had a lot of potential, but ends up feeling unrewarding. No matter how good you get, the game always ends with your death that usually happens suddenly after you've been going good for about 20 minutes. I'd like the game a lot better if it had a common level progression, and seeing how the game basically generates itself based off on a few parameters, the developers could have easily created hundreds of pre-set stages for players to go through. Instead, we only get one stage that never ends, and the game ends up feeling like... well, an arcade game. For ten bucks, this is a decent purchase, but I can't help but think about how much potential has been wasted here.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: PowerUp Forever (US, 12/10/08)

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