#185 Powermonger

Posted: 27th November 2017 by Jeroen in Games
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651st played so far

Genre: Strategy
Platform: Amiga
Year of Release: 1990
Developer: Bullfrog Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Selecting the order of games for the list can be tricky and mostly comes down to what I fancy at the time – for genre reasons or because I just really want to play something from a developer.  A lot of previous times, we have also focused on catching up – avoiding a lot of Nintendo platforms because we’ve played them loads, for example, while we really needed to get more Playstation 2 games in.

That, I can safely say, has passed now and while I’m keeping an eye on all my stats, it feels less urgent – we just need a bit of everything. For that reason, I’m going to try a different approach for the next fifty – I’m picking games more or less at random. I’ll have the occasional option for a reroll because there are games I want to avoid, and I may not always have full access, but we’ll see where it goes.

That random selection actually gave me a game I’ve been aging for quite a while anyway. Powermonger is a strategy game that looks really interesting. It’s fascinated me since I first saw it in a collection of game guides (I had to get my fix somehow, twenty years ago…) where you had the generals lined up at the side of the board, ready to take your orders as you played your game. Now I actually get to experience all of that…!

Our Thoughts

The big downside of old strategy games, especially those of Bullfrog in this era, is the interface. Aside from the map in the middle and the imposing generals at the top, the game has a lot of buttons on the left and bottom, documented in the manual, but without (decent) mouse overs or great icons that’d help you understand what’s going on.

So with that, I think I understood the game, but I’m not quite sure. There is a basic pre-Dune 2 RTS setup that revolves around raising armies and giving rough commands to attack an area, which the full army matches on – it felt like there’s no real tactical depth here though, which hadn’t been developed yet.

Strategically, though, the game is interesting. While you move around the area rampaging and taking over towns, you have to balance hunger and growing a town. Soon, you’ll control multiple generals. While you can order them around, it takes time for messages to reach them, adding a bigger planning aspect. The townspeople also keep doing their jobs – farming or making tools – with you being able to influence them, even though they work on their own. For its time, the game’s world feels remarkably alive and growing throughout.

Final Thoughts

This game didn’t disappoint. Sure, it wasn’t as accessible than later games, but it offered more depth to me than Populous and as I went into this as an early strategy game, I wasn’t expecting as much anyway. It llived up to my hopes though, and had more in it than I expected – and thus created a fun game. Sure, not something I’d casually pick up now, but glad I played it.