Review by PickHut
Take notes, Duke Nukem.
One day, I decided to turn on my Xbox 360... after not having touched the thing for two and a half months. I was in the mood for a Live Arcade title. So, after searching through every single non-community game for an hour, I finally picked something:
Frankly, I thought that was a really stupid name, even after I found out it was a nod to a freeware game title. I probably would have completely ignored it while browsing, but I noticed the Namco Bandai logo, and figured I'd take a closer look. I checked the images, and I was lost. I then read the description that was provided, and I was still lost. So, I did the smart thing: I purchased PowerUp Forever. After the download, I started up the title, read the "How To" section, which probably made me more confused, and jumped into Arcade Mode, where I took control of a tiny ship in an overhead perspective.
I thought maybe I would have a complete understanding of the game the moment it began. I thought wrong. Still dazed and confused at this point, I just started navigating my ship in random directions, shooting asteroid thingies and giant centipedes that crossed my path, while being slightly distracted by the funky background, which looked like it was tripping out on acid. Suddenly, I came across this ginormous, inanimate object. I didn't know exactly how to react to it, kinda like when the crew in the movie Alien found the Space Jockey. Pondering whether I should touch it, I started noticing creatures, which looked like jellyfish, attach themselves to the sides of this object. I shot them for the hell of it. Then I continued to shoot everything else for the hell of it. Hey, I had nothing to lose at this point.
Eventually, an alarm sounded off, and I was informed that something was approaching me. It had a name, but it was a weird one, and it didn't stay on the screen for long. A second later, an interesting, oddly-colored ship came charging on screen, and started firing missiles. All I could do was fire back, and dodge the ship's missiles the best I could while it flew erratically around mine. I destroyed it, of course, because I'm a manly man, and received an upgrade to my weapon, as well as sudden growth to my ship. The background also changed color, and I pretty much assumed I was in the next "stage".
I still had no idea how to play the game properly at this point. In fact, I didn't grasp it until my second playthrough of PowerUp Forever. Once I got past the initial confusion, I was surprised at how simplistic the game really was. Basically, the object is to destroy a Guardian in each section, but they won't make an appearance unless you tick them off. You do this by killing Parasites, which you can find sucking energy off of large, dormant enemies. Once you destroy enough to fill the rage bar, the Guardian finally decides it wants to kick your ass. You repeat this process over and over again, until you screw up and die. Yeah, PowerUp Forever is a traditional, old school title, similar to such games as Asteroids and Sinistar. It also follows in the footsteps of Namco Bandai's previous Live Arcade releases, Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions, where you would go for the highest score possible. Unfortunately, PowerUp Forever doesn't quite come off as addicting or engaging as those titles.
That's not to say it's a bad game, it's actually pretty challenging and tough to stay alive for a long period of time. At first, dodging and destroying the various amounts of enemies and objects that come flying towards your ship is easy, and defeating Guardians is a cakewalk. However, four or five sections later, and the situation is quite different. The centipede creatures, both big and small, appear at a more frequent rate, making the projectiles that come flying out of their sides much tougher to avoid. The asteroid thingies (they were never given names, so I came up with this awesome one) are also more fierce, coming at you in large numbers. Hell, in later sections, after dodging them, they turn around and try to hit you again. The Guardians themselves become tricky bastards, as well, launching a multitude of missiles at once, raising shields that deflect your bullets back at your ship, and release homing projectiles. Thankfully, you gain these abilities when you take them out. Though, that doesn't make the game easier...
PowerUp Forever does have a lot going for it, especially if you're a high-score freak. But the game is just missing that extra oomph that's preventing it from being great to play. With something like Pac-Man Championship Edition, whenever I die, I immediately want to jump back in and try to do better, to get a higher score. With this game, when I lose, I just quit and try again another time. The developers put in four minigames, but it felt like more could have been added to the overall product. The inclusion of multiplayer modes, both co-op and versus, would have been great, and changed the way you played. Like, there could have been a competitive mode where players would try to destroy as many Parasites as possible under a time limit, or another mode where one player's goal is to destroy all the Parasites in a section, while another controls a Guardian, and has to hunt the other player down. Maybe next time... if they make a sequel. As it stands, PowerUp Forever is a nice game that's ultimately something you would play to kill some time.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: PowerUp Forever (US, 12/10/08)
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