Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nerdicus NES Review #156: P.O.W


Title : P.O.W. PRISONERS OF WAR

Publisher : SNK

Developer : SNK

Genre : Beat 'Em Up

Players :  1 Player

Release Date : 1988

Estimated Value (as of today's date): $5 - $7

Here we are with another request by my man, Oscar Tristan, taking me back to the good 'ol days of can't-go-wrong beat 'em up arcade-styled games. Of course, we're looking at another "jungle" themed atmosphere for this war based prison escape game. There really was some sort of obsession with the Cold War Cuban themed battles or the Vietnam War during the 80's wasn't there. Surprised there weren't as many Desert Storm games out there, although I do think of the Desert Strike games. Meh, whatever, let's get our jungle groove thing on.

P.O.W was one of those games that I was lucky enough to play in the Arcades over at Chuckee Cheeses...actually, it wasn't Chuckee Cheeses, it was Nathan's Hot Dog's Arcade Station. Oh yeah, remember those? I also remember being downright pathetic at this game. Then again, I arcade beat 'em ups were quarter eats and were meant to be impossible. Except that one kid I watch beat TMNT Arcade with one quarter..ONE QUARTER!!!!

And let me start off by voicing my one major complaint with this game. ONE PLAYER ONLY! Come on, SNK! You're missing out the true nature of Beat 'Em Up fun! The ability to play with your best friend! If Double Dragon can do it, you can do it with P.O.W, no excuses. So a warning, this game loses points already because of the lack of multiplayer features that is a MUST for beat 'em ups.
With that said, lets see how this game fares against it's competition in 1988 for the NES. Grab your AK, arm yourself with some grenades, and strap on your combat boots a la Rambo. We're going in. Oh, and don't forget to rip your shirt to shreds. We're prisoners after all.


If you didn't know already, you're a prisoner of war in this game. Pretty self explanatory. You've gotta break yourself out of prison, trudge your way through a jungle, break through an enemy fortification, and get home to your wife so you can make some babies.

It's a traditional beat 'em up, following the standard fare side-scrolling action, with the screen moving forward as you defeat enemies. Enemies that consist primarily of marines, various soldiers, fatties (you know those guys that refuse to use weapons, but instead just want to man handle you), and even frogmen..yup frogmen. Just guys in wetsuits...I think...not literal frogmen...at least I hope not.

When you first place this game, you're going to say to yourself, "Wow, this looks familiar." If it's because it looks a lot like Double Dragon, well, that's because it looks a lot like Double Dragon. Not that this is a bad thing, I love Double Dragon. BUT DOUBLE DRAGON HAD 2 PLAYER CAPABILITIES...ahem....


In terms of attacks, you've got a whopping three basic ones at your disposal. A punch, a kick, and a jump kick. There's also a headbutt, but I found myself doing it randomly, so I can't even tell you how to do it properly. Although it does look pretty fancy. You can also wiggle your control stick around and pull off a backward punch, but I found it most effective to just spam the jump kick when you found yourself without a weapon. And speaking of weapons, let's talk power ups.

You'll pick up some knives and guns, which will end up being your saving grace when you find yourself outnumbered. Not only that but you'll also find brass knuckles that'll improve your punching feats, and that's not all folks. Getting blasted with enemy bullets and throwing knives? Fear not! Just grab your invincibility armor from the next random hunt you come across! Every marine should have been equipped with that. Standard gear, no?

The true fun in the game, lies in the seemingly endless combat. It's actually pretty well executed, and fairly fluid. Controls are simplistic, and the hit detection is spot on. The boss fights are a whole different level of awesome however. You're talking massive choppers, huge tanks, and occasionally, super-powered humans that can withstand around twenty knife stabs and ten bullets to the head.


Challenge wise, this game can pose to be quite difficult at moments. Enemies seem to deck out a heck of a lot more damage than you can, even with a gun equipped and they don't stop coming. There doesn't seem to be enough health kits around when you need them, so you'll find yourself tip toeing along trying to conserve your energy for the boss fight. This does get irritating, but where would a beat 'em up be without a considerable challenge.

Visually it's a damn fine looking game for 1988. Everyone looks buff, enemies are designed with precision (especially those bosses), and the backgrounds sure make it seem like you're trapped in an 8-bit jungle. In terms of audio, well, it's okay. Music is a tad jarring at points, but I won't deduct too many points.

Still, looking for a challenging beat 'em up, and the change to knock out a military mastermind single-handedly? YES SINGLE-HANDEDLY BECAUSE THERE IS NO 2 PLAYER!...UGH!...fine..the game is good, but seriously..2 player next time.

Final Score (out of 5) :


   

Until Next time - Keep on Gaming!


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