Power-Up is an entertaining 2D sidescrolling space shooter, inspired by old school shoot-em-ups such as R-Type, Hellfire, and Project-X. While it does little to innovate, it offers up plenty of retro-styled sidescrolling thrills with plenty of carnage, nice visuals and huge bosses. While not perfect – and best played on higher difficulty settings – it’s a strong first game from Psychotic Psoftware that’s well worth the price of admission.
Psychotic Psoftware is a one-man game studio comprised of Mike Hanson, a game artist by trade. This background in game art shines through in Power-Up , with lush backgrounds, creatively designed enemies and huge bosses reminiscent of the old R-Type games. Another similarity to R-Type is the suitably-throwaway sci-fi plot, casting you as the sole survivor of the human race, out for revenge against the reptilian monsters who wiped out your planet. It’s classic B-movie stuff and sits well with the style of the game, as does the suitably retro soundtrack.
Power-Up uses an RPG-lite system of leveling up your weaponry through collecting power-ups. While this is a great idea, the selection of weaponry is a little disappointing, with most of it seeming quite pointless (you’re best off just sticking with the ‘spread’ shot throughout the game). Worse still, in their fully powered-up form, although the weapons are certainly powerful – too powerful to be honest – none of the weapons look very impressive. This is a shame, as shoot-em-ups thrive on the spectacle and variety of weaponry, resulting in a letdown for an otherwise very good looking game.
As previously mentioned, due to the powerful weaponry on offer, the game is best played on harder difficulty levels. The huge, well designed bosses won’t get much screen time on the normal difficulty, as fully powered weapons can dispatch them in seconds. You’ll get to see these bosses plenty of times though, as Power-Up offers plenty of replayability due to the large amount of unlockable ships that merit multiple playthoughs.
While Power-Up may not be perfect, it’s certainly an enjoyable slice of retro shoot-em-up action, and at $2.99 you can’t really go wrong. It’s also a strong debut for Psychotic Psoftware, a company worth keeping an eye on for future releases.