With the world’s fossil fuels depleted and an explosion in the Northern polar thermal reactor cutting off the energy supply, it’s up to a blue-suited hero to prevent the death of billions. Not only will he have to find the six control diamonds to engage back up systems, but he will have to use the Powerglove to take out the maintenance robots gone mad. Sounds like a good excuse to indulge in some good old run ‘n’ gun action and shoot anything that moves!
The original Power Glove, a 16KB C64 game released back in 2013, is a metroidvania-lite style platformer that garnered a great following after achieving third-place in RGCD’s annual Cartridge Game Development Competition. Developers Lazycow and publisher RGCD, have brought the game into the 16-bit sphere with a conversion that deserves its new ‘Reloaded’ appendage, as it features a whole host of enhancements. Improved 32-colour graphics, a new musical score and a revised six level map, in addition to new power-ups and boss fights, results in the most refined Power Glove experience to date.
Booting this up, the upgrades are immediately apparent. A mini-intro sequence and enemy parade sets expectations before we hit a menu that not only shows this iteration has 2-button joystick support, but various play modes too – including an option that allows you to play the original C64 version. With a simple yet well-presented interface, it’s clear this is no half-hearted port.
The basic aesthetic hasn’t strayed too far from its C64 counterpart, with the small sprites remaining intact albeit with a significant lick of polish. The extra visual fidelity makes the enemies more expressive, with improved environmental art and parallax scrolling taking advantage of the Amiga’s capabilities. While the art style won’t blow you away, and there’s not a huge amount of diversity, it’s more than pleasing. Animations are smooth with some nice little graphical touches, like when our hero hits his head, sending out a few dazed stars. Frame rates are consistent, coming across only one or two drops during my entire play time.
Screen movement is smooth with only a slight bit of stutter on the parallax scrolling but this happens infrequently and doesn’t prove to be distracting as you navigate the relatively large maps. As a graphical package, it’s extremely competent with an authenticity that makes you feel this could have been a genuine Commodore Amiga release back in the day.
As mentioned previously, the music has received quite an overhaul. While the SID tunes of the C64 original were no slouch, the main game music in this version ups the production value, with the inclusion of some high-quality digitised speech and the techno-infused loops of the boss fights being welcome additions. Sound Effects are minimal but well-done, with some crunchy enemy death explosions and bouncy jump noises.
The gameplay mechanics are typical of the genre. Directional shooting across a horizontal plane and momentum-based platforming are very much the order of the day. Controls are responsive and it’s great to see the devs tweaking the ‘slippy’ controls over the original by increasing floor friction, although some may still find this frustrating along with the recovery frames at the end of each jump. It will take a bit of getting used to but the consistent weighty jumping arc soon becomes second nature as you factor it in during your exploration.
The six worlds offer plenty as you delve further into them. Keys and control diamonds are integral in your quest to completion, with various power-ups such as the Powercharge and Powerboots adding extra depth to the basic gameplay mechanics.
Level design is intuitive, with minimal backtracking reducing any aimless wandering. However, this isn’t to say it’s perfect. Some of the jumps and platform placements are a little punishing in the early stages before you collect the Powerboots upgrade, which will negate some of the initial annoyance later on. You will still find yourself colliding with platforms and trying to jump through small gaps, but these are infrequent enough to not detract too much from some pretty accomplished gameplay.
The inclusion of simplistic but occasionally thrilling boss battles adds a welcome dynamic over the original incarnation, aiding in mixing up the overall pacing. Don’t expect anything epic, but this is a very welcome addition in providing some gameplay variance.
As for the challenge, Power Glove Reloaded can be merciless, forcing you to learn enemy placements as there will be the occasional cheap shot. While you will die often, there is a real sense of progress as you creep forward each time. Also, little touches such as your character being pushed back slightly every time he shoots could be hit or miss with some. Reaching the second world should be relatively easy for most but the lack of any continue function means death will send you right back to the beginning, yet more knowledgeable with the level outlay.
For someone who put quite a bit of time into the original Power Glove, this Amiga upgrade is exactly what I hoped. It’s addictive, challenging, charming yet still infuriating, striking a good balance between fun and rewarding while being wrapped up in a competent graphical and audio package.