P.O.W. – Prisoners of War (PlayStation Minis) Review—Should Have Stayed Imprisoned

No matter how much I want not to sound like a broken record, I just can’t help it. The SNK Minis do not have the best value for the price. Well, they are not expensive and are often offered with a discount or as a freebie in the PlayStation Plus program anyway. Still, direct emulations with not much in the way of bells and whistles, exclusive features (like software manual, art gallery, or sound test) or modern enhancements are worth a dollar, no more. With the exception of a few gems (only three, actually, Alpha Mission, Vanguard and Prehistoric Isle in 1930), most of these arcade classics would be better off offered in a bundle like they were originally meant to be, the canceled (outside Asia) SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 0.

Since these games are emulations, they do not replicate the arcade experience 100%. Hemorrhaging quarters to continue playing these arcade games will never be missed, that’s for sure. However, some players might crave some joysticks. I’ve never played P.O.W. – Prisoners of War in its arcade form, so I can never surely tell if G1M2 did a horrible, horrible job in porting the control system, or if P.O.W. was made with a P.O.S. control scheme in the very first place.

The control responsiveness of this beat ‘em up is too painful to tolerate. The sprite does not react to your inputs right away, as there are nanoseconds of delay. All right, it’s just a little bit of delay, but it’s noticeable and greatly affects the gameplay.

As the game title suggests, you are a POW who escapes your cell. An entire army is waiting for you outside, and you are only armed with your bare fists and high kicks. However, you have a decent chance to escape the camp you are held in since, apparently, guns are only given out to select infantry, aside from the fact that you were able to assemble an explosive to blast out of your cell. Most of the enemy soldiers fight you mano-a-mano. I am very much willing to suspend my disbelief for a video game, or any fictional work for that matter, but the controls here are too irritating for me to continue playing in a dream-like state.

This game could have benefited from the random behavior of the AI units; again, the controls will give you a hard time enjoying what pleasant things are left in the game. The level design is pretty straightforward and is not given much thought. The game gets really annoying in a short while because the beat ‘em up nature of this game is at its barest. You just push all your attack buttons and dodge enemy fire and grenades and move forward. A little bit of an aside: it’s neat to see that the game features friendly fire, as your enemies get blown up by the grenades they throw your way if they get caught in the explosion.

Where were we? Yes, the game is repetitive and boring and stale. Boss fights are nothing really special, since bosses are just buffed-up critters if you think about it. You can pick up weapons dropped by the enemies, but that, too, gets boring if that’s the only thing you look forward to doing. Meanwhile, the sound department does not help at all. The sound effects and music are just sound waves that your brain will eventually ignore. Like your wife’s nagging.

I could hardly imagine nostalgic gamers having a good experience replaying this game. They’d be surprised at how they did even like it a long time ago. I tried finishing this game with the default credits, but it is not possible at all. There is an option that rewards you with a bonus life every time you reach a certain amount of score, but I never reached the score, instead relying on mashing Triangle for infinite credits. Call it lack of skills on my part, but this game is neither interesting nor enjoyable enough to warrant my passion and love for everything that is challenging. P.O.W. – Prisoners of War should have been executed in the first place and never allowed to escape to reach the public. Dislike me for hating, but this game is exclusively for those who had a special connection with it in the past. I didn’t, and you likely wouldn’t.

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