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Power Strike (Sega Master System) artwork

Power Strike (Sega Master System) review

"Power Strike (called Aleste in some parts of the world) is a Compile-developed vertical shooter in the Zanac, Blazing Lazers and MUSHA vein. While you're up against lots of the usual robot ships, the real bad guys (read: bosses) are bullet-spewing, mankind-enslaving vegetables. Time for a garden salad! "

You're stuck on her

Power Strike (called Aleste in some parts of the world) is a Compile-developed vertical shooter in the Zanac, Blazing Lazers and MUSHA vein. While you're up against lots of the usual robot ships, the real bad guys (read: bosses) are bullet-spewing, mankind-enslaving vegetables. Time for a garden salad!

“Marc, you should leave her!” a friend of mine implored me. “She’s not good for your health; she’s tearing you up inside.” He gave me all the relationship clichés. “But,” I would begin, because there’s always a ‘but’, and in this review it’s no different. There’s a ‘but’ in here, so watch for it, because we may as well have been talking about Power Strike, and not some ball-busting young lady.

The analogy

Why do you continue to pursue this thing? Aren't you wary of dates who seek duality? Because you probably also know Power Strike by its decidedly more famous name, Aleste. And Power Strike/Aleste is nothing new! Haven't you already had your way with the very similar Zanac?

Perhaps this crush is based on looks? Yet the graphics aren’t spectacular. And while it’s true that they’re dated, they can’t hide behind the limitations of 8-bit technology; we’ve all seen R-Type and Castlevania III. But most importantly, the game frustrates you. It presents you with six hard levels, including even the first, filled to the brim with a frantic bullet presence typical of 2-D overhead shooters created by Compile (do they create any other kind of shooter?). But never has Compile been so cold and belligerent. Of all eight unique and useful weapons available, only the default has unlimited shots. The rest will run out in short order unless you grab another power up of the same kind in time. Therefore, collecting same numbered power ups has twofold significance; keeping your ammo going, and powering the weapon up to a greater level. That is, if you are carrying the number FOUR weapon, and you've managed to raise it to its second level of destructive might only to allow it to run out of ammo, you will revert back to weapon ONE at a power level of one. Rip-off isn't it? And of course death will have the same effect, only you’ll be a ship down, naturally.

Even worse than the weapon limitations in the face of relentless bullet spreads is what I call the Ninja Gaiden factor. You’re pushing through level five, smelling the enemies’ blood, knowing that victory is around the corner. You have five ships in stock and the powerful THREE weapon leveled up nicely. There are blue bullets buzzing near your craft but you can shoot those with your regular pea-shooter. The pea-shooter is firing in three puny streams—its maximum—because you’ve collected the ten trillion ‘P’ icons to necessitate this. It’s the fast moving (and sometimes swirling) red bullets that are cause for concern, and only a powered up numbered weapon can destroy them (dodging them all isn’t an option). As such, your THREE weapon runs out of ammunition—due to massive strains put on it by your defensive shooting—before you find another one!

Your lowly ONE weapon combined with your pea-shooter won’t be enough, and you know it. Your fiery death soon ensues. Power Strike is unapologetic. In this kind of heat that is capable of killing you with your best foot forward, respawning with nothing is equal to multiple, successive suicides. All five of your ships are gone and you are back to the title screen. Luckily, you are able to continue an infinite amount of times, and before packing it in, you made it to the last stage, level six! You select continue and watch with excitement and trepidation, then incredulousness and hatred as the words come up indicating you’ve been sent back to level five. It doesn’t matter if you died on the level six boss or not. The result is the same; heartbreak.

She’s a Man-eater!

But, (I warned you it was coming) though Power Strike breaks your heart time and time again, you are always there to have it broken one more time. Because it’s addictive. It’s easy to get into; your ship requires no icons to increase its speed, there are no corridors for you to memorize the structure of. It’s just unrelenting enemy projectiles spinning, falling and flying at you while you dodge and strive to become armed well enough to shoot them all down. Then it becomes a sweaty contest to remain so armed, because you know that should you get hit or fail to replenish your ammunition, it’s curtains. No doubt it’s because the game is so overly difficult and unfairly relentless why it’s also such an adrenaline rush of sheer eye-crossing, ‘can’t-find-the-pause-button-right-now’ excellence. So, while she tortures you, you can’t live without her either. Despite the totally unnecessary level six start-back annoyance and the limited ammo inanity, Compile has done it again. Power Strike is under your skin.

You’re infatuated, and for good.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 12, 2004)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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