Retro Review – P.O.W. Prisoners of War
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Portable.
In the ‘80s, beat ‘em up style side-scrollers were all the rage. Titles like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, and Kung-Fu were hot on the console, but the king of the mean streets of the coin-op arcade was, without a doubt, P.O.W. – Prisoners of War by SNK. In this Arcade classic, brought back as a PlayStation Minis game, you play as an un-named hero who breaks free from his cell in the jungle and fights his way through levels filled with enemies that become increasingly difficult with each passing wave. Your goal is to infiltrate the enemy’s main base and destroy their leader.
Utilizing a control scheme from a simpler time, P.O.W. allows you to control your character’s direction and to execute punches, kicks, or jumps. Weapons, such as knives or assault rifles, will occasionally fall to the ground when enemies are defeated and become available for you to pick up and use. Each level is linear, unlocking the next area after a wave, or multiple waves, of enemies have been defeated. A boss must be taken down at the end of the level to proceed further.
Like previous SNK re-releases, P.O.W. allows you to customize some of the game’s features. The button scheme and certain in-game behaviors, such as the number of lives per credit you receive and at what point bonuses are awarded, can be changed to meet your preferences. Oddly absent is the ability to have two players in the game. The original arcade game featured co-operative play, however, this feature is not available in the Minis version. What’s aggravating is that the game likes to continuously prompt you for “2P Start” if you have credits remaining as though taunting you and your buddies while playing.
After revisiting this title, you can see why P.O.W. wasn’t a game that received accolades for originality or innovation; however, as the precursor to the ever popular fighting genre that took the crown as king of the arcade in the ‘90s, it provided hours of entertainment to those who had the coins to drop into the machine. The game would later spawn a simpler and less popular version on the Nintendo Entertainment System, but it just wasn’t the same as the quarter consuming original. While not receiving the same polish as other Neo Geo Station releases, it is definitely worth picking up this video game classic for the low price of $2.99.
This game receives a 4/5.
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