There comes a time in each hero’s life when the well-worn moves just aren’t enough. Punch, jump, shoot… they become inferior in the face of growing evil. Your quest calls for something extra– a special weapon, spell or ability. When obtained, your hero takes a step up from the ordinary into the extraordinary. These little extras are power ups, and what follows are our favorites of them.
First in. Steal my ideas now, fellas!
Man though, power ups. That is… so vague! Need to be honest with you guys; I have been thinking about this for at least three weeks and I still don’t have a strong conclusion as to what my favorite power up is, or even what constitutes a power up. But then, people tell me I’m indecisive; I don’t think I am… maybe I am? I don’t know. And yes, I did think that that was funny; thanks for asking (I’m also aware that you DIDN’T! That is why I included it!).
Geez, off topic. Anyway… I don’t feel like going so far out of my way today. Honorable mentions go to The Franklin Badge of Earthbound fame, Kuribo’s Shoe from Super Mario Bros. 3, and my personal favorite (also from Mario 3), The Hammer Suit. But — and this is the thing — the most notable power up I’ve experienced over the years is Yoshi, from Super Mario World. I’m really at a loss of words concerning him; he really is just… well, broken. Not as broken as flying, but… the dude offers you a third hit, can stop almost any baddie, can fly, shoot fireballs, and can give you a double jump; the thing that makes him broken, though, is that you can reclaim him immediately after being hit, offering you an almost infinite amount of damage absorption. At least you weren’t permitted to take him into dungeons/ghost houses (because, as the cartoon tells us, he is afraid of ghosts!). Geez, I put a lot of Mario Stuff in there.
Really, guys? Really? There’s no contest. The title of best power-up in the history of power-ups goes to the tiny star in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. It wasn’t a Starman– the name escapes me –but, man, it’s a darn good thing it wasn’t. What would Yoshi do with a Starman, anyway? He’d eat it and turn it into an egg. But have Yoshi touch one of these crazy star things and Baby Mario would become akin a man crazed with hunger– hunger for blood. He’d run around, somersaulting like an acrobatic baby possessed. I don’t know about you, but this gave me this similarly crazy sense of euphoria. Seeing Baby Mario run around like that, with actual power, totally beat anything Baby Mario had to give me normally. (For the uninformed: mostly crying.)
As for any runners-up: yeah, I highly doubt anything’s going to even come close to the Yoshi’s Island star. But if I had to choose, I’d probably pick either of the new suits in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The Light Suit in particular looked almost P.N. 03-esque in its svelteness. In that aspect, at least, it’s almost as cool as Baby Mario’s crack star. Which– well. It looks like all my wondering of just what that star is made of has just come to a conclusion.
Man, this isn’t even a contest! I’m talking about the SHOE, man! The freakin’ SHOE!!!!
Man, and you only got it on one level. But oh, World 5-3 was the tip-top. You were nigh-invulnerable as the green-shoed Mario (or Luigi), and could hop gracefully over even the pointiest spikes or Piranha Plants. Mario didn’t really jump higher than normal, but it sure felt like it since he could land on nearly anything with impunity.
Alack, the Kuribo’s Shoe hasn’t made any major appearances outside of its one-hit wonder. Maybe that’s what makes it so special, though. Just a taste of the shoe’s power made us appreciate its majesty all the more…
I beg to differ with Mr. Roberts on one minor point: Kuribo’s Shoe did make one other minor appearance in the eReader levels of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, but I can forgive this oversight as the only way Americans can experience that castle of Kuribo’s Shoe goodness is through hacking. Such a sublime level it appears to be, if the YouTube video is any indication.
But I digress. My favorite power up in a video game has to go to the Ice Beam in Metroid. I remember the first time I stumbled across it thanks to a friend that had beaten the game and knew where to look. Suddenly I was invincible. Well, not really, but it’s amazing how that one power up changed how I felt about the game as a whole. Without the Ice Beam it was too difficult. With the Ice Beam it was difficult but rewarding. I know that the Ice Beam is still one of my favorite pickups in the Metroid games. It just isn’t Metroid without the ability to freeze my enemies somehow.
These are less power ups and more equipment combinations, but Final Fantasy VI had some near game-breaking stuff you could do with items. Top among them were the combinations of the Genji Glove and Offering, and the Gem Box and Economizer.
The first combination is the ultimate equipment for your party’s melee attacker; the Genji Glove allows the character to equip two weapons and the Offering makes the character attack twice, so the two put together allows a character to attack four times in one round. The latter two items are a godsend for magic users; the Economizer reduced MP consumption to one for all spells and the Gem Box doubles every spell you cast — two Ultima spells for only two MP! No way to go wrong with that! Normally, there are only one of each of these items in a game, but some smart betting in the arena can land you a party’s worth of these lethal combos, effectively allowing you to turn the rest of the game into an absolute breeze.
As for more recent and Nintendo centric power-ups, I must admit that I have come to really enjoy the Smash Ball from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Yeah, it’s kind of cheap and can be really annoying when the AI manages to get to it before you, but the flashy, super powerful moves and transformations it allowed were always a blast to watch and even more fun to use.
I’ll pick a more recent example and that is the Double Clawshot from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. When I first started the game, I loved the idea of hooking the Clawshot to the ceiling and then raising and lowering yourself with it to get a better viewpoint of the area or to ease yourself onto moving platforms. When I got the second Clawshot, I was immediately excited as the game let you essentially play as Spider-Man by shooting yourself from target to target and the game also set up an exciting boss battle which made a great use of the item.
Here’s hoping the next Zelda combines the elements from the Double Clawshot with other functions such as the Grappling Hook from The Wind Waker and the ability pull in items or climb up and down a tethered clawshot like it was a pole. Perhaps, the whip shown at the E3 demo will accomplish much of this?
As my fellow staffers argue back and forth over when, where and what happens in Mario games, I’ll go ahead and take this time to say how awesome the Hammer Suit (also known as the Sledge Bros.’ Suit) was in Super Mario Bros. 3. I mean, come on! The ability to turn into a Hammer Brother and throw hammers was too cool. Not to mention having the ability to be protected from fire when ducking. I mean, what other game allows you to turn into an enemy?
That may not be my number one favorite, but let’s face it, there are just too many great power ups. The Tanooki Suit was great as well, along with the Long Shot Arrow from Kid Icarus. As yet another great power up, I would love to mention the stars in the Punch Out series. These little guys were absolutely needed in order to beat the great champ Mike Tyson with powerful uppercuts to the head!
One of my recent favorite power ups comes from the delightful, yet challenging, Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. When the bowler-wearing, moustached hero fills up a power meter, you can hit a button on the bottom screen of your DS to go into Tea Time. Henry sips a bit from his cup, then loudly proclaims “Good show!”
The hilarity ensues afterward as he transforms into a giant, mechanical beast that skyrockets upward, with the British flag behind him. Players only have a limited time in this special suit, but the onslaught is rather wicked. You can trample enemies, blast them with a bunch of punches or even shoot projectile boxer gloves. Seriously, ruling never felt so good.
Power-ups are like the greatest moments of a game condensed into about 30 seconds of insane frolicking and glee. Your temporarily super-powered-self just wipes the floor with your enemies as you dash through worlds, unchallenged and uninhibited. Coming across a Power Star or a Pac Pill (what the hell are those things called… any ideas Editor– Power pellets?) is like discovering a dash of Christmas morning awe, as you take charge.
But my all-time favourite power-up will forever be the Motion Sensor Bomb from the Smash Bros. series. There is something so devilishly delightful at springing the perfect invisible trap and just waiting for Bowser to land his fat ass on it. That is if you don’t forget where you put it and blow yourself up first.
Call me simple, but I’m going to have to go with the POW power up in Excite Truck. Nothing could be more gratifying than smashing through previously “solid” objects at a high rate of speed; not to mention the big air that can be achieved if your timing is right. I’m the kind of person who likes to find their own path in life and the POW power up is just what the doctor ordered. In fact, once the power up has expired, I feel a sense of withdrawal as if coming down from a high.
I guess I will also jump on the Mario bandwagon and nominate the 1UP mushroom from the Super Mario games. How many of us have lost several lives trying to obtain this power up “just because”? I’m still not clear on what Nintendo is trying to insinuate by having us do ‘shrooms in their games. How’d the ESRB let that one slip by?
The most awesome thing about power ups is that they can be either balanced, requiring skill to be truly effective, and not in a game-breaking way; or completely chaotic and overpowered. Mario Kart games have both of those. My favorite power up from that series is the Golden Mushroom. The little, shiny, crowned mushroom that gives you an endless amount of boosts for a limited time. It’s a very versatile power up because you can repeatedly push the button until it wears off, or you can use it strategically, taking shortcuts that can’t be taken without the extra boost.
On the other hand, we have the Thunder Cloud. My absolute least favorite power up in gaming history. Once you unluckily get the Thunder Cloud, it activates automatically, preventing you from giving it any strategic use it may have. It gives you a pretty decent speed boost, at the cost of shrinking you when it ends. You can pass it to other racers by bumping them, but this awful item has the habit of popping up even when there’s nobody around, even if you’re already having a difficult time in the current race.
How about you? Did we list one of your favorite power ups or make you think of one not on the list? Let us know in the comments below, and throw your vote into our poll on the topic.