The Power is a puzzle game which ties together the name of the theme tune and the premise of the power of love conquering all. Released in 1991 and it was coded by Johannes Lipp of no particular group so it is possible this was developed in house by publisher Demonware. The idea is to reunite two characters that resemble emoticons named Max and Mini, you play as Max. For reasons unknown the two are placed in a series of mazes where Max must collect hearts before meeting up with meet Mini. The problem is that once Max starts moving he will not stop until he is blocked by a wall. Here lies the challenge of the game. You need to plan your route around the level making sure you collect the hearts and end up in a position that would allow you to glide over to Mini. During the first couple of levels this is fairly straight forward as you are allowed to get to grips with the controls. The difficulty ramps up quite quickly over the next few levels as ever more complicated mazes are thrown at you.
A level may also contain some movable blocks, there are red, green and blue blocks. A set of rules apply to the the blocks that add an extra element to the overall puzzle. A red block will smash a green block if it slides into it but if a green slides into a red both survive. Similarly a green will smash a blue and a blue will smash a red. You will need to use these rules to clear paths or to avoid destroying blocks that you will need in order to guide Max. One wrong move and you might as well restart the level, although you may not realise it was a wrong move until much later.
The above image shows a tricky coloured block puzzle. You need to move some of those blocks up to the very top so you can block those dead ends and allow Max to move down the maze. Be sure to get the order right otherwise you will lose blocks.
As the levels progress you may find that the play area becomes larger than the screen, this makes things much harder as checking the route ahead requires you to move parts of the level off screen. A strict countdown means there isn’t much time for lengthy analysis and you will be hard pressed to finish many of the levels on your first attempt.
The player control Max’s movement with a cursor, this can be set to keyboard, mouse or joystick with the later seeming to be the easier to get to grips with. You can move the cursor in all directions in increments of one block, although Max can’t move diagonally. When you are ready to move Max you simply place the cursor over him, hold the fire button and then hold the direction you want him to move, let go of the fire button and away he goes. It might take a little while to get used to this but it’s a pretty neat and minimal control method. Its biggest problem is that when moving Max around small spaces you may find your cursor flying off past the spot where Max comes to rest meaning you have move the cursor back to make your next move. It may have been better if the cursor had locked to Max as he moved and then released once he came to a halt.
You will need to play through 100 levels to give Max and Mini their freedom. Expect later levels to be horrendously complex. A password system allows you to walk away in frustration at any time and return to where you left off…provided you noted the passwords down.
There are some very lengthy in game instructions but reading them is a chore. They span an area wider than the screen so you have to constantly scroll around to piece together sentences .
The instructions reveal that that there are various modes of gameplay and you can even use the boosts from Fragrr to get the best out of your games. Arcade or Tactic mode means you have to finish a level before the timer runs out. The Knockout mode means you have to finish before a second player. A point is scored for each round won and the first to get ahead by 3 points wins. This might actually be more fun than the single player game. It is also a little easier to play as the entire level is shown on one screen by zooming out.
A level editor is included in the game. This allows you to use all of the elements available in the game. It’s very easy to use and allows you to test your level before you save. Oddly enough the levels you create seem to replace the default levels during the game so in theory you could make the game very easy by replacing them all!
The graphics for the most part are fairly basic. The levels are made up of lots of the same, rather boring, blocks. There is some graphical flair on display though. The levels and info screens scroll in and out of view from the centre of the screen and the numbers of the countdown timer have an interesting morphing animation. Throughout the whole game the background continuously scrolls. It adds some variation to the levels and is nice and smooth but is very it also present on the instruction and is very distracting. Between each level you will see a larger graphic of Max or Mini on various animated backgrounds.
The soundtrack is a decent rendition of The Power by Snap! A popular tune that managed to get to number 1 in the UK in 1990. Bruce Almighty blasts the top off of fire hydrant and generally enjoys his new found powers to this dance track. I’m sure that the Amiga could do a better job on this tune but it does well enough considering the developers had to fit this onto one disk along with the game code. The music plays on a loop and if it does start to annoy you can opt for sound effects instead. There are some interesting choices made here with breaking glass used to accompany the characters as they leave a level. The constant ticking of the timer may have you reaching for the mute button.
- Catchy music
- Simple controls
- Doubt it has long term appeal
- Poor main menu and instruction screen layout
A short review but there really isn’t much to this game. I wanted to like it more but sadly the power of love is not enough to save this game from being a title that you would most likely play for a while and then put away, only to boot up from time to time to hear your Amiga play that theme tune. It’s not a bad concept for a game and it will force you think. I doubt many will stick with it through all 100 levels. It might make you wonder if modern gaming has led us to require more instant rewards and gratification for less effort….or maybe I’m just rubbish at this game.