Written: 1.17.07 Acquired: 1.17.06 Status: Cart only Price: $5.60
The year was late 1992
Back then, my older brother was too shy to go rent video games -- so he always shipped me to do his dirty work. 90% of the time he gave me a specific game to rent. On this particular Saturday morning however, he let me pick whichever SNES game I wanted..... some game that would be good enough to last us the weekend...
Damn somebody needs Anger Management...
At this time a start-up, hot-shot rental outlet called GAME HUNTER just opened. It prided itself on catering to the hardcore. All video games: NES, Genesis, Neo Geo, portables and of course, the SNES. Imports galore! Just a straight up diehard gaming paradise. It had a HUGE cult following in my area (see Memories of Renting for more)
Strolling the SNES aisle I was taken aback by the countless rows of boxes on display for rent. It was a visual feast! My eyes landed on an import called POWER ATHLETE
A Street Fighter II clone eh? I can remember drooling at the back cover. Not knowing what an import really was at the time, I rented it
When I came home, we realized it couldn't play on our SNES. My brother snapped. Not only did I waste my dad's money and time, but now we had a game we couldn't even play for the weekend! I immediately called GAME HUNTER and they told me about the adapter which was an extra buck to rent. My dad, being a great father, drove me all the way back
Some 40 minutes later, all systems were GO. And the rest.... well, it's not history but I'll always look back on those times with a deep fondness... indeed Power Athlete was my first ever import taste. My brother's best friend came over and he loved the game. I liked it, and so did my brother it turned out. We had a ton of fun for the 30 hours we had it. It was no Street Fighter II, that's for sure, but it had a cheesy charm to it and was certainly playable
*13 YEARS LATER*
During my winter break of 2005/2006, I developed a nagging feeling I could no longer ignore: it's time to buy a SNES again (I gave mine to my little cousin circa late 90's). January 17 I bought one. And what was my first game purchase? How fitting but the very first import I ever played! The funny thing is... when I logged on eBay there were 38 seconds remaining in the auction. I wasn't even looking for it. I just typed in "SNES" and it was the first match ending soon that came up.... it was fate...
13 years later I was going to revisit an old friend. Not just the system, but this game
By the time the SNES came (a Monday, January the 30th) I already had 40-plus games in my possession. How does one make such a choice with so many titles on hand? Can you guess the first game I chose to play?
Of course... POWER MOVES
Seeing the old sights and sounds for the first time in 13 years was quite a moment. A lot I remembered accurately: certain stages, special moves, cheesy characters, etc. But, there were some aspects I totally forgot. F'rinstance, this isn't a one plane fighter, no. Imagine a beat 'em up playing field... then shrink that down... that's Power Moves!
"So wait, if you press up, you move up instead of jumping?
There's a button for Jump?!? In a 2D fighter?"
There's a button for punch, kick (thankfully block is just hold back) and jump. I kinda dig the freedom of movement. It's easy to avoid fireballs for one. But seeing how blocking special moves doesn't take off ANY energy, it's a moot point; but alas, you can move up or down to dodge an attack, then quickly zone in on your opponent, giving the game a quasi-3D feel...
The graphics bring a smile to my face. They're decent in some areas, but lacking in others, all the while having a semi-nice (nostalgic) look to it all, if that makes any sense. The images of Warren and Baraki's stages were burnt into my retina 13 years ago. Warren's stage has a big raft sailing across a pretty sweet looking ocean. In the background, high in the air is a blatent, shameless KANEKO blimp. Sure, it may look largely unappealing to many today, but back then it was quite a sight
In Baraki's stage, located in the exotic outreaches of Kenya, you fight the beast on soiled ground full of foliage. Littering the back ground quite nicely are a pair of HUGE dinosaur remains. A small river flowing about can be seen beyond all this. 13 years later, it still looked pretty damn cool
Each character has two special moves, which is done by holding punch and kick, and tapping forward, or back then forward, etc. Simple, but the control could have been better. At times, they can be somewhat difficult to pull off in the heat of battle
Sound and music is generic but passable
In the 1P mode you can only control Joe. It's a cool concept where you build up stats in various categories, but it's a shame they didn't let you pick from any of the 8 fighters
Only in the 2P mode can you pick anybody
Very simple combo's exist. Nothing special, though it does feel sweet jump kicking someone deep, followed by a hard punch to the jaw. But it's a very basic system. To me that's part of the charm though. Let's meet the characters:
Main cat. Throws a fireball very similar to Ryu's. I call it "KENDOHA!" =p Has a very funky looking but at the same time kinda cool looking "Rising Dragon Palm"
If Blanka and Baraka had a love child, you're looking at it
This savage beast throws a sonic boom like fireball where he brilliantly yells "FIRE!" (<--- I always remembered that as a kid... even then I knew how cheesy and lame it was, yet that's all part of the game's charm!) He has a rolling attack like Blanka to boot
The old muscle man I always called him back in the day, heh heh. Don't be fooled by his aloof looking portrait, he can get the job done. Watch out for his quick rushing tackle and weird flipping anti-air kick
Don't mess with this lass! She's the type that would rather THROW ya than KNOW ya!
Why does this guy seem so familiar? Kyoshiro from Samurai Shodown fame anyone? Granted, Buoh came first, but the Kabuki-esque warrior was a popular choice back in the day eh?
Buoh can teleport and whip his long red hair
This guy needs to see a doctor! He reminds me of NEO GEEGUS from World Heroes fame. It is rumored that Hollywood turned him down and he went completely bonkers (no, not really)
Beware his rushing double punch and double piledriver!
The toughest of the regular seven opponents. Beautiful stage going up and down a giant lift (think Rolento) set across a gorgeous (at least for its time) sunset backdrop
He has an annoying break dancing move and the ability to throw daggers!
China, known for its savage warriors, has produced Gaoluon, Master of the Bladed Tonfas
Not only does his deadly tonfas act like boomerangs, possibly hitting you TWICE, but he has a lethal Flash Kick as well!
After you defeat all seven opponents, you face...
No relation to Geese Howard!
Can you defeat RANKER and capture the World Title?
This one's a piece of cake
This one... not so much
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Super Play was not so easily impressed. On the other hand, GameFan quite loved it
GameFan: 80, 85, 87, 90, 90
Super Play: 49%
Ah, nostalgia. It can be a double-edged sword. In this case, it's the bad end. When I first played Power Moves in my SNES rebirth, I thought it was OK. Recently I played it with my brother, and the flaws were simply too glaring to overlook. I don't know how we liked it back in the day! I guess it's just one of those things...
The controls, in an attempt to be different on the part of the makers, is too awkward and not very reliable in the heat of battle. There is also some lag time which is a no-no for any fighting game. Blocking special moves and taking no damage makes zero sense whatsoever. It just didn't play as well as I thought it once did, and it's a shame too because the game could have been decent. In the end, it's not worth bothering with
Still, I will always have a special spot in my gaming heart for this. 1st import ever, and also 1st SNES game I bought in my 'rebirth.' But I have to be firm and not let petty sentimental memories get in the way of my reviewing integrity. Released in early '93, this is not passable. Maybe if it came out a year earlier, but mind you, this came out months after the amazing Street Fighter II -- there's no excuse for such a lackluster effort!
Disappointing, below average at best. I was hoping it'd be better than even I remembered, but it turns out to be much worse. This is one game that won't ride out in the sunset. Not being able to pick any fighter in the 1P mode is bad enough, but the game just doesn't play very well, and that's all it comes down to...