Power Up harkens back to the days when shooters were king. In today's retrogaming world, this is a welcome slap in the face to the AAA developer. Okay, so there's a multimillion dollar franchise that spends more in one hour of it's two-year development cycle than Psychotic Psoftware spent during the entire design process of Power Up, but when you can simply have FUN booting up the game, regardless of development costs, is when the rubber meets the road. Power Up has shown this with flying colors. It really feels well-polished.
The storyline for Power Up is about as depressing of a start as you could ever imagine. The bad guys won, and you're the only human left. Plenty of story to start up a kill-everything-that-moves action game, though. Via text and static character art, we get to see the story develop. Even though the human race is annihilated, our main character gets to still have witty banter with his on-board AI and the myriad of villains threatening his demise. A side effect of these storyboards that I particularly like is that the action stops so you can read the story: meaning you still get to pay attention whilst getting a bit of a break from the frantic gameplay.
Allow yourself to get a bit into the game, and truly understand how it works. Most shooters start you with one weak gun, then allow you to pick up items to get a more powerful weapon. At first, I was a bit confused at the myriad of weapons I had, none of them seeming to do much damage at all. I got to the first boss, and died nearly instantly, feeling like a mosquito trying to take down an elephant. But once I figured out the core Power Up mechanic of the game, the whole play style changed. You have access to every single weapon in the game, but you get to choose which weapon to make stronger by having it active when you pick up the power up. My first run through was haphazard; I missed some power ups and had spread my powers too thin. Second time, I chose one or two weapons to energize and watched as the pitiful little pew-pew turned into a weapon of mass destruction. That first gargantuan boss went down in about three powered up hits. Plus, your weapon upgrades continually increase throughout the game, making you truly a force to be reckoned with.
Let's face it: as great as it is that there is an Indie Games marketplace, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. I've browsed through the years; the most memorable things on the list are things like Try Not to Fart, Rumble Massager, Baby Maker Extreme, and random puzzle games that get you close to seeing animated boobs. Finding a game that's more than let's-try-to-get-someone-to-impulse-spend-a-dollar is really hard; prior to this the only indie game I had purchased was a generic Angry Birds with fish vs. cats, primarily because my son wanted to play Angry Birds and it wasn't out on any system I owned. Psychotic Psoftware has obviously made this game a labor of love, really wanting to put something fun out for the world to enjoy. This is the first Indie title I've truly placed in the start-up-the-Xbox-to-play-this-game category, rather than wow,-that-was-a-waste-of-a-good-dollar that most of the previously named titles fall into.
At $1, this game is an obvious purchase. You can live without that one soda for a game that'll call you back for more. Head on over to your Xbox and download the game today!