We’re all talking about what kinds of power-ups are our favorites this week, so I think I’ll talk about something quite the opposite — games without power-ups. Games where we are all too human, such as it were. Sometimes, gaming with limitations is what’s best. And even if it’s not, it’s still worth talking about, isn’t it?
Hotel Dusk: Room 213: Kyle Hyde spent the entirety of his game without throwing fireballs, flying, or even upgrading his pistol into a Spread gun. All the matchsticks in the world don’t make you more powerful than any other regular Joe with a box of matchsticks.
Donkey Konga: My grandpa said it was always hard to make power-ups for a music game, and the old standby proves true here. Unless you consider drumming along to the “Kirby: Right Back At Ya!” theme song to somehow give you super abilities. I don’t think I would, in fact, allow that possibility.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright doesn’t use Black Hole Bombs or Smash Balls, he just has plain old stuff to show during court. Half the time, it’s not even that interesting. You know, stuff like cell phones and pieces of paper with things written on them. And the MAD POINTING SKILLZ are all Phoenix. He doesn’t need to sharpen his finger in the morning.
Wii Sports: No game-altering blue shells or rocket launchers here. This game is all about playing tennis. And golf. And, you know, bowling. And boxing. Oh, and baseball, too. BAM.
Brain Age: Dr. Kawashima’s game is all about “powering-up” your brain, but not with any kind of magical or pharmaceutical objects. Only practice. Practice may make perfect, but it, again, is a perfectly ordinary and not bonus-item-supplied thing.
Nonono Puzzle Challenge: No one actually knows what this Japan-only Game Boy Advance game is about due to its high content of weirdness, so it’s a safe bet that there aren’t any power-ups involved. Even if there were, there wouldn’t be any logical way to prove it!