An everyday story of lovesick blobs...

The Power logo

Publisher: Digital Distribution Price: £24.99

Have you got the power? If you didn't take up the Government's PowerGen share offer then you can still have some power if you buy Digital Distribution's latest offering. Originally written by Demonware in Germary, The Power is a puzzle game with a difference - put simply, you'll be puzzled why you ever bought it! Only kidding, it isn't THAT bad.

You control Max, a lovesick, but smiling blob with a few wisps of hair and some feet poking out of his bottom. The aim of the game seems simple enough - you must guide Max through fifty levels of puzzling arcade action until he is finally reunited with the love of his life, Mini (who, like Max, is also a blob).

Each level is completed by collecting love hearts that are scattered around the play area. Once you've collected them all, a quick peck on Mini's cheek will send you to the next level.

Unfortunately, the floors of each level are rather slippery, so once Max starts to move, he can only stop by colliding with another object (a bit like my car, really).
To make things a little easier however, many of the levels feature 'helping stones' that can be strategically positioned to help Max collect all the hearts. These helping stones come in three flavours - Red, Green and Blue. Problem is though, you have to be careful when moving two together, because certain combinations will cause the stones to be destroyed.

Once you've completed all 50 screens, there's a built-in level editor which will let you produce your own screens. These can be saved out onto standard AmigaDOS format disks, so there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to swap screens with your friends.

The Power is quite a fun little game, but it doesn't quite have that certain something to make it special. As it is, you'd probably have more fun watching PowerGen shares crash.

The Power logo

DEMONWARE * £24.99 Joystick, mouse or keyboard

Talk about tenuous game links! Demonware's last offering was Ooops Up! which was built around Snap's hit of last year. For their latest game, they have taken the band's first single and created a puzzle game about 'the power of love'. Well if it gets the game a decent soundtrack who are we to complain?

Will you break my heart again?
The game pits you as Max, a blobby little hero who must make his way through maze-like levels to rescue his girlfriend Mini.
This is more difficult than it sounds, since Max isn't too bright and has trouble finding his way around. Once you set him walking he continues in that direction until he hits an obstacle. Fortunately, there is a set of blocks which can be moved around in the same way as the hero to form barriers. Care must be taken when moving the blocks however because certain colour combinations case blocks to disappear.

You must set up the blocks to allow Max to pick up all the hearts, then guide him to Mini before the time counts to zero.

The game can be played in a number of different ways:
ARCADE: This is where one or two players take turns to complete each level. The level is displayed at full size, with you having to scroll the screen to view the whole of labyrinth.
TACTIC: This is basically the same as Arcade Mode, except the whole level is displayed on screen, so you don't need to scroll around.
KNOCKOUT: This is where two players battle head-to-head on a split screen display. The first to complete a screen is the winner of that stage.

It's getting kinda hectic
The going starts off pretty sedately, but it soon gets a lot more difficult. Before long, the mazes get bigger and more complicated, requiring you to think pretty feverishly to solve the puzzle before the ever-so-quick timer runs out. Some of the levels will have you tearing your hair out with frustration, but the game is fun enough and has a wonderfully cute quality to keep you trying.

With over 100 of the devious little blighters, it will be quite a while before you complete the game, but even if you do there is a level editor which enables you to create a whole new set of puzzles to pass between your friends.

The control method has been seen in a few games before, but the general approach and feel is different enough to allow The Power to be seen as an original enough puzzle game. Couple this with a serious addictiveness and The Power is enough to keep puzzle fans happy through the cold evenings.

One of the most limiting factors in any puzzle game is the number of levels included. To get over this problem, Demonware have included a level editor for you to construct your own puzzles. You can use all the elements found in the game to build screens and you can make them as easy or difficult as you want - it all depends on how much of a git you want to be on your mates!

One thing that has to be mastered in The Power is the interrelation of the coloured blocks. They are essential in enabling Max to reach certain areas of the levels, but when they hit each other in a certain order, some blocks are destroyed:

RED destroys GREEN - GREEN destroys BLUE - BLUE destroys RED.

The Power: Red Block ... destroys... The Power: Green Block ... destroys... The Power: Blue Block ... destroys... The Power: Red Block
The diagram shown above shows the order in which destruction occurs.

The Power logo

Bei Demonware hat man die wachsamen Augen über die Spiele der Konkurrenz schweifen lassen, "Atomix" bzw. "Shuffle" für gut befunden - und flugs eine eigene Tüftelei ähnlicher Machart herausgebracht...

Hier dreht sich alles um Max. Nein, nicht unser Max, sondern ein kleiner Smily, der insgesamt 50 Labyrinthe nach seiner geliebten Mini abgrasen soll. Dafür steht ihm nur begrenzt Zeit zur Verfügung, zudem müssen in jedem Level erst alle herumliegenden Herzen eingesammelt werden, ehe der Held seine Mini in die (nicht vorhandenen) Arme schließen darf.

Einmal in Bewegung gesetzt, stoppt Max erst wieder beim nächsten Hindernis; genauso verhält es sich mit den diversen Hilfssteinen, die von gnädigen Programmierern eingebaut wurden. Aber Obacht: Geraten die falschen "Helferlein" aneinander, wird eines zerstört!

Trotz hübscher Scroll-Effekte im Hintergrund bricht die Grafik keine Rekorde, als Sounduntermalung dröhnt "I've got the Power" aus den Boxen. Auf Dauer nervt der Song gewaltig, die ersatzweise einschaltbaren FX sind aber auch nicht ganz das Wahre. Steuern läßt sichdie Lovestory wahlweise per Maus, Stick oder Tastatur, wer einen Partner zur Hand hat, darf sein Glück auch am gesplitteten Screen versuchen. Zudem kann das Game in zwei (leicht) unterschiedlichen Modi gespielt werden.

Dank das rasch ansteigenden Schwierigkeitsgrades bietet The Power schmackhaftes Kraftfutter für die kleinen grauen Zellen - nur die unübersehbare Verwandtschaft zu Thalions Denksportaufgaben hinterläßt einen leicht bitteren Nachgeschmack... (jn)

The Power logo

In which Demonware continue with their theme of releasing games with titles which are simply excuses to use remixes of songs by Number One pop stars Snap as soundtracks (and which also bear uncanny resemblances to other games). First came Ooops Up, a shameless Pang clone, now there's The Power, an arcade puzzle game owing more than a little to Thalion's Atomix. Naughty old Demonware, but nobody's going to mind that much if they've managed to turn out a good game, so let's ee if they have...

Firstly, let's deal with that soundtrack. IT's very excellent indeed. Right, that's that out of the way. Secondly, let's deal with the plagiarism aspect. There's no denying that this is a very similar game to Atomix, but it's just different enough to avoid accusations of a rip-off, largely because it's much more of a collect-'em-up than the earlier game, which had distinctly Boulder Dash-like elements to it. Thirdly and lastly, let's deal with whether it's a good game or not. And yes, you have to say that it is, really. It's certainly been superbly programmed, although the control method could have been a little better thought out and the scrolling backdrops are particularly nice.

There are tons of options too, so you can play the game the way that suits you best, and if that's not enough there's a level editor so you can make it as easy or as hard as you like. Passwords also make frequent appearances, so you shouldn't have too much of a problem getting stuck on a screen and having to trek through the previous ones to get to it all the time, especially considering you also get eight continues to play with.

Generally The Power is very well put together, but for some reason it disn't really grab me, and I didn't find I had any pressing desire to get to the next level (and I liked Atomix). I can't really put my finger on anything, it's technically very good, but The Power didn't do very much to me at all.

The Power logo

Demonware return to the puzzle game field with this unusual offering, which once again uses the title of a Snap record. With the bassline from the original hit thumping away in the background, occasionally by a sampled shout, the object of The Power is to guide a small head along the walls of the surrounding play area in an attempt to make contact with a similar-looking head with a bow on top - presumably the female object of the former blob's intentions.

However, before the proposed meeting can take place, the rotund hero must be made to collect a pre-determined number of hearts to prove his love for the fickle female. However, as our hero can only travel in a straight line along the wall or at a right-angle from it, actually reaching the girl involves a lot of thinking and rearranging of obstacles - all within an ever-decreasing time-limit.

Despite its simple gameplay, The Power proves to be remarkably addictive. The puzzle element is the most addictive I have seen for a while, with some really nasty problems on the later levels - and these are made harder with the addition of blocks that cancel each other out.

As with most of the puzzle genre, though, its lasting appeal is dubious, with very little variety in the levels. To give the programmers credit, they have attempted to rectify this with the addition of extra play modes, but even these can't stop The Power from being short-term fun.