Saturday, May 07, 2016

POWER UP +


Power Up is a scrolling overhead racer similar to Super Cars by Marek Cichon of Empty Head. However, my first impressions weren't good because it felt like a cheap clone, at best. Well, never go off first impressions, after taking more time to properly configure the options (best suited to my particular Atari computer) I then began rigorous practise sessions. It wasn't long before I was ripping around the tracks and wearing a big smile!

There are a lot of tracks to master with various conditions to endure, like the type of road and the weather and I really enjoyed the wet tracks for sliding around the bends. Okay, it's hardly Ridge Racer but it's still great fun.

Weapons are supported and each has the ability to fire the world's slowest "rocket" I think I've ever seen. However, this works perfectly as a deceptive ploy by the programmer because it's so easy to bump into it. This helps make the game extra challenging along with watching out for oil spills, which are all too common. The other cars love to dump their black splodges frequently and this makes you slip and slide like a crazy fool. Successful racers will be rewarded with glory and a massive golden winners cup before strangely being sucked down into the ground... Ludicrously funny!!

Controls work well: acceleration is automatic through three gears which you need to manually choose. The reverse helps in sticky situations, but the other two are forward gears - with a top gear allowing you to hammer past the other vehicles. Strangely, the weapons are activated using the keyboard, which may be awkward for joystick players?

Graphics are pretty much the expected homebrew quality but extremely nice. Power Up makes use of the Blitter chip lurking within the Atari STe -and- the Atari STFM for a quicker framerate. Faster computers are supported and recommended. Sound effects are a mixed bag and support both YM and DMA processors. I preferred the DMA samples over the chip effects, but these are also extremely nice. Musically, Power Up also supports the Atari STe's hardware to bang out ageing tracker tunes at multiple frequencies > 50Khz and in stereo. Quite superb, especially on faster computers.

Power Up certainly has its fair share of "quirks" but it's free and I'm happy to say it's one of my favourite homebrew games. Lots of Super Car-esque thrills await and I'm sure you will love slipping, sliding and racing around Power Up's tracks just like Dale Earnhardt. Take the time to master its mechanics and you're rewarded with a fun racer.

LINKS

 - Power Up has a website with floppy disk downloads.
 - But this is my ready-2-go download for hard drive / Ultrasatan users :-)
 - Note: best played using STFM / STE with a Blitter Chip.


Marek Cichon interview

I decided to contact the programmer, Marek Cichon. His website has been online for years and I half expected to hear nothing, but within minutes I had a reply! We chatted and I asked a few questions along the way...
Why did you create Power Up and what inspired you?
 - I liked frantic racing games - Rally Speedway on Atari 800 plus track editor.

What did you get from the TOS platform during this time?
 - 6 years of fun and development overnight!

Did Power Up live up to all your expectations?
 - Unfortunately not. It is the homebrew game with a look developed mainly by two friends from the small city Chomutov. We would be successful to release the game till 1992.

Anything planned for the future?
 - We have released another game with the similar graphics for PC called Pixoria (see pixoria.eu)

What Atari computers do you own?
 - American NTSC version of Atari ST from 1985 year (my father bought in in Houston, Tx). I have developed most of my programs, including Power Up, on this computer but using on PAL TV. This meant black and white, unstable display (TV 50Hz, Atari 60Hz). Also a European Atari STE with 2 MegaBytes extended memory!

Easy question, what are Marek's favourite Atari ST games?
 - Vroom, Super Cars 2, Lotus Esprit Turbo challenge, Karateka, Test Drive, F15 Strike Eagle 2. Oh I see that racing wins!

Are you planning any Power Up updates in the future?
 - No. There were two releases Power Up and Power Up Plus with better graphics, shooting and oil slicks to finalise the game.

What retro games are you playing in todays crazy world?
 - I prefer the older Atari 800 games like The Great American Cross-Country Road Race, Rescue on Fractalus, Electra glide.

Are you listed on Demozoo?
 - No, it is Karel Rous (Empty Head), my distributor. I have never met him :-)

What makes Marek tick?
 - When people contact me from Australia, Mexico or UK. Those who play Power Up with my compliments. Thank you Steven.