Power Blade
"When New Earth's Master Computer is attacked by aliens, only NOVA, lord of the ancient Power Blade, can hope to battle through to Control Center and restore the Data Base"

So begins the story of Power Blade, the story of one man's battle to restore peace and harmony to the world, and one of several billion 8-way scrolling, platform shoot'em-ups made during the early 1990's. Excuse my cynicism, but experience has taught me that contrary to the popular saying, you actually can have too much of a good thing. Game of Street Fighter 6: 5th Strike Alpha Championship Turbo Capcom Vs Bash Street Kids Edition anyone?

So what makes Power Blade different from the rest of the Mega Man / Probotector wannabes out there? Well, nothing really. From the futuristic environments (made up of, would you believe, platforms and ladders), through to the scattered power-ups and end of level bosses, Power Blade is pretty much as generic as it gets.

As NOVA, you have been given the rather unenviable task of infiltrating each of six sectors, regaining control of the database found within and retrieving the sector's tape unit. Before access to the database can be gained however, NOVA must first locate a secret agent in each sector who will pass on an ID card. Once inside the database security room, a guardian (read: end of level boss) must be defeated before NOVA can nab the precious tape unit. Once all six tape units have been collected, NOVA must enter the Main Computer Control Center and regain control of the computer.

The Power Blade, in case you were wondering, is NOVA's choice of weapon and is actually a sort of souped up boomerang. The power-ups found scattered about the levels offer multiple boomerangs, longer range, extra health and a special Power Blade suit, which not only acts as a temporary shield, but also greatly increases the destructive power of the Power Blade. NOVA also has a choice of special abilities - grenades, which act like a smart bomb and damage everything on-screen, and a health boost which can only be used when standing over one of few energy tanks.

The six sectors can be played in any order, and there is a password system so your game can be continued at a later date.

Is that Arnie? Have I missed some sort of tie-in connection here?

'Watch me hit that pigeon ...'

Who needs guns when you can chuck a bent piece of
metal about?

Hardly the most original of NES games and far from being the prettiest, Power Blade doesn't leave a very good impression at first - yes, another scolling, platform shoot'em-up and oh my, aren't the visuals rather unimaginitive ... So it came as a pleasant surprise to find myself compelled, nay - hooked by NOVA's boomerang-chucking antics. So much so that I didn't stop coming back to it until I'd completed the darn thing (although this is more an indication of Power Blade's qualities than of my playing skills as Power Blade is actually quite easy to conquer, the password system ensuring that anybody with at least competent skill will complete the game eventually). The boomerang as weapon works well (strangely reminding me of Strider at times) and the levels are nicely laid out - finding the contact in each sector is never a frustrating task, and the levels encourage exploration without being too labyrinthine. Some of the bosses seem a bit misplaced (a dragon protecting a database in 2197?) and none are particularly inspiring, but what would the end of a level be without a boss to battle against? :) If you're looking for something different from the norm to boost your NES collection, look elsewhere. However, if you don't mind a touch of seen-it-done-it alongside some very solid gameplay, you could do a lot worse than Power Blade.

Graphics: 70%

Sound: 75%

Gameplay: 88%

Overall: 81%
Not particularly bad, just ... uninspiring - especially the final boss! Quite a bit of flickering too ... Unimaginative effects, but pretty decent tunes throughout. A consistently solid gaming experience. If you can look past Power Blade's lack of originality, a highly entertaining romp awaits. The final boss is a tad disappointing and the end sequence is pants, but overall a very enjoyable experience. Not sure that I would return to it now I have finished it however. Unoriginal but very playable while it lasts. Check it out if platform shooters tickle your pickle.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Probotector • Mega Man 2

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Gunstar Heroes (Megadrive) • Super Contra (SNES) • Strider (Arcade)

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