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Jim Power: The Arcade Game (Genesis) artwork

Jim Power: The Arcade Game (Genesis) review


"Jim Power is boring. It tries very hard to be diverse, but, in the end, it fails miserably. Its greatest variation lay between levels. But even this has a pattern: epically long on-foot levels followed by a boss, followed by a journey via spaceship through a gauntlet of hazardous obstacles and deadly enemies, followed by further space travel through a maze of winding corridors while trying not to crash into walls, after which the cycle repeats itself before game’s end."



The first level of Jim Power: The Arcade Game saw me running through a forest populated with hostile Roman-style legionnaires and ferocious felines. As the game’s namesake, some sort of space explorer or superhero, I had nothing at my disposal except an upgradeable laser and multi-damaging smart bombs with which to destroy my enemies. I leapt over gaps and avoided spike traps. I timed dashes through devastating water droplets and dodged hydraulic crushers before facing off against the level’s boss.

If any of this sounds exciting, I assure you it’s not. Jim Power is frustrating. The first time I died, I’d only managed to run a few frames before a soldier located on a ledge safely above me grazed me with his boot. The second time I died was over an expansive spike pit, traversable only by hopping on little platforms that take you from one side to another. I missed the jump, thanks to my avatar’s disgustingly pathetic leaping ability. The third time I died was at a similar spike trap, only this time I had to jump on a vertical platform that carried me up to the next part of the level. I failed to jump to the new area. The fourth time I died, I realized I’d missed collecting the key that opens the door to a new area, despite its really obvious location. I died trying to reach the first area, only to discover that the platform was too low to successfully reach the previous area. The fifth time I died, I found myself in a room with water dripping from the ceiling. Realizing this could hurt me (water must be Jim’s kryptonite), I dashed past the first droplet but was struck by the second, even though I was safely cushioned between the two. A continue screen presented itself, I said yes and tried it all over again. And again. And again.

Jim Power is boring. It tries very hard to be diverse, but, in the end, it fails miserably. Its greatest variation lies between levels. But even this has a pattern: epically long on-foot levels followed by a boss, followed by a journey via spaceship through a gauntlet of hazardous obstacles and deadly enemies, followed by further space travel through a maze of winding corridors while trying not to crash into walls, after which the cycle repeats itself before game’s end.

Soon you’ll realize there’s very little diversity between similarly categorized levels. Only minor aesthetic differences to keep it from getting too old. You’ll jog through the same forested on-foot missions, defeating enemies, jumping over obstacles and gaps, and avoiding traps and falling debris. You’ll fly through the same cave-like shmup levels, destroying all incoming enemies while avoiding hazards and walls. You’ll zigzag through the same winding, claustrophobic corridors, collecting coins (for points!) while accelerating at varying speeds that make it increasingly difficult to avoid the surrounding walls. You’ll play, listening to the same song continually, turning a truly beautiful (for a Genesis game) track into an annoying earworm. You’ll forget that all the bosses are actually quite different from each other because they all have an easily memorizable attack pattern.

It wasn’t long into the game before I discovered level skipping. With this glorious ability, I was able to forego the tedium and frustration, minimize my boredom, and explore levels that I otherwise never would have gotten to. In fact, it’s how I got past the first boss, because, in a hilariously ironic way, the first boss is the hardest boss in the game. In this way, I discovered that just about everything carries over from level to level, except for power ups. Remember that first level I mentioned? I beat it with an upgrade that shot two large blasts from my laser. When I fought the boss, I only had one. After skipping the boss, my laser regressed to two small blasts, but when I entered the second of three on-foot missions, my weapon was capable of shooting two large blasts in front of me and a small one behind.

I also discovered a handy cheat that made my task of playing this game a whole lot easier. While messing with difficulty settings (which seemed to make no difference whatsoever), I inadvertently entered a code that gave me infinite lives and keys. With it, I no longer had to be careful. I could just hop around constantly firing my weapon, annihilating enemies and falling into traps, completely disregarding the sadistic time limit that resets every time you die. I breezed through the levels, my boredom and frustration replaced with the pure joy of mindless destruction and speed of victory. It was the bell that rang the salvation of my sanity. After all, I’d only wanted to beat the game to see what came at the end, without level skipping. That I couldn’t do it legitimately mattered not to me.

But in the end, the game had the last laugh. Reaching the final level, I easily raced through, with only minor hiccups frustrating me (mainly involving precision jumping). I reached the final boss, a devil of all things, and slew him mercilessly. Then I waited for some form of “Congratulations!” followed by end credits and a screen in which to input your high score (this was supposed to be an arcade game, after all). It never came. I waited and waited, explored the small space in which the fight ensued, let the time run out several times, and still nothing. It soon hit me that in order for me to activate he score input screen, I had to lose all my continues. But because I had the code enabled, this was impossible. The only thing I could do was level skip back to the beginning and repeat the cycle again, infinitely raising my score for no purpose whatsoever. I soon grew very bored indeed.

Rating: 2/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Community review by wolfqueen001 (November 02, 2008)

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