Ask any NES player what the best action games are, and the answers seem
pretty common: Castlevania, Contra, Blaster Master, or Ninja Gaiden. Yet Power Blade, one
of the unsung NES releases, seems to be relatively unheard of. And yes,
it's an awesome game.
Sometime in the future, this really big city is under the control of a computer.
Well, things must go wrong in a situation like this, and it does.
Some evil bad guys hop in and take over everything, sending the city into
havoc. You, as cool dude Nova, must mount your attack on the six various
areas of the city. Once you've secured them, its off to the final base.
The six levels are actually have a bit of an adventure element. See, before you
can get to the boss of each level, you need to find a contact that will
give you a key card. Then you can advance. Sometimes the agent is out of
the way and hidden; others are found quite easily. Some levels require plenty
of exploration while some are fairly linear. There's also a few small
paths that deviate from the main course, leading to power-ups and goodies.
The levels are fairly large, and every time you die you're sent to the
beginning of the level, the agent (if you've found it) or the boss door (if you've
made it that far.) It can be a bit annoying to go through so much
of a level after you die, but it's still tolerable. You have three lives
to waste, and each death will only downgrade your boomerang a little bit (so
you don't start out completely weak.) However, you are forced to start the
level over with a crappy boomerang if you lose all lives. Passwords are
provided, but the game can be beaten in an hour or two, so these aren't
The power blade mentioned in the title is Nova's boomerang, the main
weapon of the game. Although at first it has short range, little power,
and only one can be thrown at time, it can be upgraded to throw farther,
with mroe strength and in greater numbers. The boomerang can also be
thrown in many directions (although if you want to throw it downward,
you need to jump and toss it.) The versaility of this weapon is one of the
reasons why Power Blade is so great.
Additionally, you'll also find Power Suits conveniently lying around. When
Nova dons one of these, he fires extremely powerfuls energy blasts. He
can take three hits before reverting back to his normal self. There are
also grenades to be found (kills all enemies on the screen) and energy
tanks (much like Mega Man, they'll find your life to the max.) These items
can be carried around and may be used whenever you deem them useful.
The in-game graphics are very nice...not too overdone but definitely stylish.
My only complaint is the way that Nova runs. He looks like a doofus. The
music is pretty good, with a decent beat to it, and the sound effects aren't
bad. The game controls like a charm; Nova can run, throw, jump, and change
directions with the greatest of ease! Everything's just so smooth. Also,
unless you're playing on the difficult level, Nova doesn't recoil from enemy
attacks (the difficult level also reduces the time limit immensely, so you've
gotta be quick.)
The bottom line is this: Power Blade is one the better action games there is for
the NES. I'm really surprised it never gained the popularity of the
other series (then again, it was released at a time when 16-bit systems were
gaining grounds.) Still, any side-scroller fan owns it to themself to pick
up this game and have fun.