Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 4

If there's one thing SNK never really got a grip on during their extended stay in the real of 2-D, it was the beat-em-up. It took them until 2001 when they finally pulled off a true classic in "Sengoku 3." Prior to that, well, nothing. That's exactly where "P.O.W." falls. Nothingness. It's awful dredge, meant only to suck in quarters even more so than those unfair crane games.

If there's one thing that pulls you out of this game from the start, it's how these two prisoners managed to get their hands on the high explosive to break out of their confinement. It doesn't make sense, much like the gameplay. The two playable characters are exactly alike, except one wears blue, the other red.

Yes, it offers both a punch and a kick button, though using anything but a kick is useless. Punches send the enemy away from the player, allowing them to get a shot in before another strike can be launched. Combos are impossible except for with kicks, which magically keep the enemy close enough. Hit detection is laughable for the most part. Attacks go right through adversaries on a regular basis.

Only two weapons give the player an advantage, a knife and machine gun. In fact, these are the only two things in the game that can be looked upon as a power-up. You don't even hold onto the knife; you're forced to throw it. The gun can be butted against an opponent's skull to conserve ammo, but the range of that attack is laughable.

Sprites are more detailed here than other games from the same era, probably better animated too. Though small, they pack in quite a bit of detail and the colors look great. Unfortunately, the backgrounds have no moving pieces at all and remain static throughout.

About the only thing "P.O.W." has going for it is the soundtrack. Stage three really has a great track that fits right in with the action. Punching effects are effective enough to get the point across and that's about it.

The NES port would end up being the better game. Not only is it possible, but also those hit detection issues magically disappear (as does co-op play). Regardless of how well the game was ported over, this is a sad, sad brawler. It's far from the worst (see "Ninja Clowns" for that distinction), and it's pretty incredible to think someone would even want to put this game on a console.


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Last updated: Friday, February 25, 2005 06:46 AM