It saddens me to see a good game go unnoticed. One such game that caught my eye is PowerUp Forever, a downloadable game for Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, released last year by Namco Bandai. Developed by the Blitz Arcade division of Blitz Games Studios, PowerUp Forever is a shoot ‘em up that fits perfectly in with its developer’s namesake.
Taking its inspiration from R-Type and Geometry Wars, PowerUp Forever is a beautifully simplistic game. Players take command of a spacecraft and hurtle around the inside of a cave, picking off a variety of flying alien nasties as they go. The game is controlled via the twin-stick method favoured by Geometry Wars, with the left stick for movement and the right for firing in any direction that you please, while shoulder buttons allow you to shuffle your arsenal about or activate devastating bombs to help in times when you begin to get overwhelmed. The thing that sets PowerUp Forever apart, however, is the way that your ship increases in size with each ‘level’ conquered, increasing your weapon power as it goes.
As a result, soon you begin to dwarf earlier enemies that initially posed such a huge threat, crushing them with a mere sweep over them as you glide around the environment, and bigger, more vicious creatures attempt to make you their prey in their place. The aim is to reach as high a score as possible, and to do this you must eliminate Guardians so that you activate points multipliers. Guardians are lured out by destroying leech-like monsters that attach to larger masses until the meter at the bottom of the screen fills, calling forth miniature boss battles wherein the majority of other enemies will buzz off while you circle each other in fierce dogfights. If you don’t feel like taking on a Guardian, simply do not go after the leeches – firing upon other enemies will instead increase a meter at the top of the screen that, when complete, allows a smart bomb attack to wipe out anything in your path. Bear in mind, though, that your weapons and abilities will not expand if you’re not willing to take on the bosses.