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January 22 2019

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The King Of Fighters 96

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  Retro - P.O.W. Prisoner of War

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Game Stats
1 or 2 player

Side Scrolling beat 'em up
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Guerilla War (Retro)

Ikari Warriors (Retro)

POW - Prisoner of War (Retro)


If I was in charge of an oppressive military regime or drug cartel I would issue the following three rules to whoever is in charge of holding prisoners in my jungle fortress. Make sure all guards are well armed, position snipers on guard towers to shoot any escapees and most importantly to frisk all captives to make sure that they are not carrying any dynamite. It just makes common sense. Otherwise, some plucky GI's might try to do a runner.

Thankfully for the player, with this being in the ‘lets put sense on the back burner' world of video game villains, this advice has not been heeded as this game does indeed start of with your P.O.W escaping a prison cell by blowing apart his prison cell with the aforementioned dynamite. (No where near as good as an escape plan I saw in the A-team which saw Mr T making a crossbow out of a bed!) What then follows is one of many answers to Double Dragon, where the open-shirted, muscle bound backstreets of pimps, bikers and hookers (why were all these games based around the late 70s movie The Warriors?), moves to the open-shirted, musclebound jungles of Vietnam, South America or whatever.

As many of us know, SNK's attempts at co-operative side scrolling beat-em-ups (Sengoku aside) have not been that good (Mutation Nation anyone?) and this game is no exception. Like many early examples of this genre such as Double Dragon or Renegade, P.O.W suffers from poor animation and collision detection making much of the fighting seem pretty random and often unfair. All too often the bad guys just keep hitting you as soon as you get to your feet, or drop bombs from helicopters that your character is too slow to evade. Help does come your way though if you happen to pick up a machine gun lying around but you feel vulnerable yet again when the ammo expires. The game itself is fairly brief, with little variety in enemies or scenery but will probably lose your attention before the repetition really sets in.

Back in 1988 these games seemed pretty good and enjoyable, particularly with a second player back in the arcades when I was too young to know much better. However a year later, back in the seaside arcades, Final Fight appeared. I ignored P.O.W and Double Dragon (regular favourites of mine at the time), favouring the new game, with its smooth gameplay it made all similar games before it seem obselete. P.O.W was left empty and most likely became relegated to chip shops, kebab houses and finally to obscurity.

Overall: 3 out of 10

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Ported to the Nintendo NES home console.

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