Approximate Release Month: January 1993
The shoddy and simplistic nature of Power Moves is its downfall.
I don’t think there’s ever been a good two-button fighting game. Well, there’s Divekick, and I’m sure you fine folks will post about ones I’m unfamiliar with in the comments. But it’s hard to have complex gameplay when you’re being hamstrung with lack of inputs. Compare Street Fighter II: The World Warrior on the Super Nintendo to the Game Boy port. The handheld version is impressive yet lacking in comparison, even ignoring the graphics.
Having said that, Power Moves is technically a three-button game. I say technically because the A button is jump, which would normally be mapped to up on the D-pad. Y and B are the attacks, and you can press both at once to do a special move. You can move up and down in the fighting area, too. It plays like a side-scrolling brawler like Double Dragon, just one-on-one. The problem with that is that the worst part of brawlers is when you’re fighting a boss after having fun beating up the waves and waves of enemies for the rest of the level. Power Moves is just boss battles. The fighting is bland at best.
There’s a multiplayer component, of course, but the bulk of the experience is the single player mode which has some great ideas marred by a disastrous implementation. I was immediately disappointed when the game forced me to play as Joe, the most generic fighter that has ever existed in a fighting game. Why not let you play as the other characters? It’s a strange restriction in a game that lets you play as every fighter in the versus mode.
As you win fights in Power Moves, you earn points that help build your fighter’s stats – speed, jumping, strength, defense, and life – and allow you to more easily face more challenging opponents. I love RPG elements in non-RPGs. The problem Power Moves has is that there are only eight fighters to spar against, and only one is actually possible to beat at the start. In order to have any success, you need to fight the same guy over and over. There’s no ramp up in difficulty. Every other fighter has sky-high stats. And have I mentioned how the fighting is basic? I lost interest very quickly.
Power Moves has some strange framerate issues that make fighting intermittently sluggish. I call it strange because the background is always moving at full speed as if the issue only affects the sprites that make up the fighters. Sometimes the characters just move at half speed and I don’t understand why. Hopefully watching a few fights will get across what I mean.
I just want to shrug my shoulders and say that this isn’t a fun game. That’s reductive and basic, but I don’t know why anyone would play this. Power Moves just doesn’t have what it takes in a post-Street Fighter II world.
Tomorrow: Koei. Strategy game. Zzzzz. Uncharted Waters.