Saturday, May 07, 2016

POWER UP +

I stumbled upon Power Up many, many moons ago and I was most impressed to find a game which I hadn't previously heard of. At some point in time, Power Up appears to have become freeware and with nifty support for the Atari STe's audio and the Blitter coprocessor. As you can imagine I was a giddy kipper and, shaking like a kid on Christmas morning, I clicked the download links and awaited instant racing pleasure!

First impressions, Power Up feels like a cheap & cheerful homebrew clone of Super Cars or maybe even Nitro. If I'm honest, its pretty much a Super Cars rip-off but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fans of that game now potentially have another to enjoy, for free too, which can't be bad. Okay, first things first, do not allow my first impressions to sway you, take the time to configure the options and then have a few practice games. Once setup and configured to taste, I found myself beginning to enjoy this little racer and eventually I was hammering it around the tracks like The Stig. Well, maybe not but I was still having fun!

Weapons are supported and every car fires out the slowest moving "rocket" ever, which is actually a cunning feature that often results in someone's destruction! (well, usually mine). Oil spills are common with the other cars dumping *lots* to make you slip and slide like a crazy fool, thankfully they only last a few seconds before evaporating. Heck, you can even honk your horn to get through the crowd of lunatic drivers!

Controls may take a little time to fully master. Acceleration is automatic through three gears, which you will need to manually select. One is reverse but the other two are forward with the top gear allowing you to hammer by all other vehicles. Strangely, the weapons are activated using the keyboard, which may be awkward for a joystick player? Power Up features lots of cool tracks, often with a variety of different conditions, I really enjoyed the wet ones for slipping and sliding around the bends, hardly Ridge Racer but it's still great fun. Being homebrew always comes with curious design oddities and Power Up is no exception, I dare you to not get annoyed after a bump because I felt almost glued to the other car. Successful racers will be rewarded with glory and a massive golden winners cup before strangely being sucked down into the ground... I know, I know please don't ask why - but it is ludicrously funny!

Graphics are pretty much the expected homebrew quality and extremely nice. Power Up makes use of the Blitter chip but, even so, the scrolling isn't exactly "silky smooth". However, it works at an acceptable framerate to feel spritely and keeps up with the hectic gameplay. Sound effects are a mixed bag and support both the YM and DMA processors. I actually preferred the DMA samples over the chip sound effects, but these are also extremely nice. Musically, Power Up also supports the Atari STe's hardware to bang out aged tracked-tunes. (I'm sorry, but most of the old Amiga toons haven't aged well)

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 the controls because Power Up is pretty darn cool.

LINKS

 - Power Up website & also floppy disk downloads.
 - my own video recording which flaunts tons of gaming skills!!
 - my own ready-2-go download for hard drive and Ultrasatan users :-)
 - AtariMania features it within their Atari ST database.
 - Please note: older ST's without a Blitter will struggle.


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.