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Power Lords Box
Box Front

Back of Power Lords Box
Box Back

Power Lords Cartridge
Cartridge

Overall Score:
4.3
(Out of 5)
Gameplay: 4.3
Graphics: 4.5
Sound: 4.2

Here it is: the Holy Grail. Power Lords is the absolute rarest game in North America, it's scarce in Brazil, and it was never even released in Europe. So good luck scoring a copy. That's too bad, because it's actually pretty good!

It's also fairly unusual. The game is a single-screen space shooter, but unlike most games of that genre, it's neither a bottom-sliding Space Invaders clone nor an Asteroids-style, free-floating shoot 'em up. In Power Lords, you pilot your Space Sled freely around Volcan Rock, a large blocky volcano that dominates the center of the screen. While dodging lava balls raining down from the sky, you take aim at the Laser-Eyed Space Serpent slithering around at the top of the volcano. Keep the big snake stunned with a barrage of fire, or it'll cut you down with a blast of twin laser beams. When the opportunity presents itself, feed a little firepower into openings that periodically appear in the volcano's base to earn extra points. But watch out for volcanic eruptions, which are devastating and occur without warning.

The graphics in Power Lords are some of the best produced on the Odyssey² back in the day. Almost nothing in the game is built on "stock" Odyssey² characters; nearly everything is a custom sprite. The Space Serpent actually looks like a serpent, and its slithering animation is quite well-done. The lava raining from the sky and spilling down the rock's sides really conveys the sense that you are in a hostile, volcanic landscape. Shooting the openings in the volcano causes it to shimmer rather spectacularly by O2 standards, and the volcanic eruptions are grand and convincing. The sound effects are fitting throughout.

Unfortunately, there's not really enough gameplay to go along with all this audiovisual flair. Although it's enjoyable to fly around and shoot things -- and the game gives you plenty of things to shoot at -- there doesn't seem to be that much point to it. Blasting the Space Serpent starts out fun but grows a little repetitive after a few dozen times. You can't destroy the Serpent no matter how much you blast it, which makes the whole exercise seem fairly fruitless (whoever heard of a good video game where you can't kill anything?). Had there been "levels" at regular intervals, it could have broken up the monotony. As it is, the random volcanic eruptions are the closest thing to an end-of-level marker. A good way to challenge yourself is to see how many eruptions you can survive in a game -- each one you make it through earns you a big point bonus. Like other Odyssey² games, you are only allotted one life, but your score can easily reach up into the thousands, which is an unusual feature.

Overall, Power Lords is a good game that falls short of greatness. Rare as it is, I wouldn't recommend shelling out $100+ just to play it. You'd be better off getting the Odyssey² Multicart. But if you're a collector, you'll want Power Lords. Just be prepared to pay.

All Reviewer Ratings:

ReviewerGameplayGraphicsSoundVoiceOverall
cubiczar4.14.14.1-4.1
cvgmaster4.44.64.5-4.5
J.W. Hunter4.04.04.0-4.0
Marcello Iannuzzi4.64.74.0-4.4
Marcelo Ribeiro4.05.04.5-4.5
Mark Wolongevicz4.65.04.9-4.8
Mike Cronis5.04.03.0-4.0
William Cassidy3.74.94.4-4.3
Averages4.34.54.2-4.3

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