PowerUp Forever (XBLA/PSN)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Graphics: 4.00
Sound: 4.00
Gameplay: 6.00
Replays: 5.00
Gamelength: 7.00

NOTE: Both the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network versions of this game are completely identical, so this single review covers both of them.

“PowerUp Forever” is one of those games that had so much potential, but just didn’t deliver that satisfying punch.

For those who may have played it, “Geometry Wars” is clearly the main inspiration for this title. The basics of endless destruction, tight controls and flashy colors are there, but that’s about all this game has, despite the evolutionary mass scope that this game seemed to have prior to the release date. The constant sense of evolution is a novelty that quickly wears off, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Come with me to a world of never-ending parasites in “PowerUp Forever” for the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

This game is smooth, colorful, vibrant and has plenty of particle effects, but it just doesn’t seem to flow very well. I’m not sure if it’s just the framerate or what, but something just doesn’t look right. There’s not a whole lot to this game aside from repetitious shapes, bullets and ever-changing colorful backdrops. Fitting as it may be, it just could have been far better.

Sound is important with this kind of repetitious and essentially never-ending gameplay, which is another reason that I’m disappointed. I was hoping for some really awesome electronic music to set the mood and keep things pumping, but what actually plays through the speakers is generic and lacks any sort of substance at all. Couple that with the overly repetitious sound effects, which would otherwise go completely unnoticed because of the genre and you have a recipe for disaster. I don’t really understand what happened here, but this is a serious drawback as far as I’m concerned.

As for the gameplay, well it’s rather basic. You select your difficulty, move with the right joystick and shoot with the left joystick. Over time, you can hit the left bumper/L1, the right bumper/Rq and either trigger (L2/R2) to unleash bombs, shields, lasers and plasma arcs, which are all just variations of the same thing because they all essentially deal the same amount of damage before the power bar runs out. The most effective weapon of the bunch, aside from the mandatory standard cannon anyway, is the classic screen-clearing bomb. The enemies you’ll be fighting don’t change much and until around level 10, there are only about 3 enemies, discounting the guardians, which are complete and utter pushovers. Guardians are the supposed bosses of each level, but they’re not much more difficult than normal enemies, aside from a much larger health bar. There’s absolutely no AI in this game and the levels only change in terms of the backdrop, which really only changes colors from one palette to the next. Upon reaching levels 10, 15 and 20, as well as “bouncing” 1,000 bullets back at enemies, new modes are unlocked under the “Bonus” category, which do very little to enhance replay value. The 4 unlockable modes are Guardian Rush, Survival, Defender and Overkill. Aside from a leaderboard, there’s no real reason to play these modes because they just aren’t very fun or innovative. It’s a very basic game with very little to do and while it has the core elements of the genre, it fails to put them together in that “special” way.

Overall, this game failed to deliver in almost every way that I had hoped for. I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time and simply put, I hope there’s a LOT of patching and DLC added. Without that, this game will quickly fade from memory for most people.

Pros:
-Very colorful.
-Easy to control.

Cons:
-Terrible music.
-Sub-par visual quality.
-Far too basic.
-Very unforgiving.

Bottom Line:
Unless you absolutely have to own every shoot’em up game in existence just for completion’s sake, it’s a good idea to skip this one.

Overall Rating: 5.00

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