SNK has been releasing a number of games as Minis recently with mixed results. Certain games translate well, and the price point is such that it is worth it just for the hour or so of old-school arcade gameplay that many of us cut our teeth on. However, many of them fail to deliver enough meat to make even a few dollars worthwhile. P.O.W- Prisoners of War fits into the latter category.
P.O.W. follows a standard early 90’s script. You brawl your way through various enemies who approach from either side of the screen to progress though cookie-cutter back grounds. It’s repetitive, but in games like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, there is enough variety and a crispness to the controls that traversing each scene is enjoyable, if not occasionally frustrating. Sadly, the controls here are beyond rough, they are crippling. A certain level of brutality is expected in game that thrived on collecting pocket change from wayward kids in the arcade, but the characters actively fight against the controls. Punches and kicks, your main arsenal, land only a fraction of the time, the same goes for the various weapons you can pick up. Response time is delayed, and occasionally non-existent, removing any ability to actually play the game.
With level design being as bare-boned as it is and the lack of function in the combat, there aren’t a lot of bright spots to the game. Enemy behavior manages to be slightly above most beat-em-ups, and the friendly fire is a helpful tool that lends a light tactical edge to evasion and leads to the most enjoyable moments. Unfortunately the actual enemies themselves can’t match. The end level “boss battles” consist of a slightly juiced up enemy that requires a few more hits and not much else.
In the end, with options like Streets of Rage or the more recent Scott Pilgrim Versus the World on the PSN, there is little to no reason to pick up P.O.W. There is fun to be had for classic SNK fans, but for everyone else, save your money for the next round of Minis.
|Classic SNK formula|
Old school sensibility
|Bland levels, boring enemies,|
and broken combat