Power ups are basically objcets that are made to give temporary or permanent upgrades to the player. These items are generally dropped by enemies in a level. While most power ups give only benefits, some other power ups can inconvenience, like not being able to go somewhere, use items or natural abilities. Power ups are mainly found in action oriented games such as puzzle games, fighting games, platformers, shooters, beat em ups, racing games, etc.
They can give to a player a wide variety of abilities and upgrades. Some games, like those in the Mario
franchise, make the power ups a strong part of its gameplay. Some power ups can take powers away from enemies.
Transforming Power Ups
These power ups transform/upgrade your character/vehicle into something else. Examples include making your character bigger/smaller or changing their form completely. Changing form can be a trade of abilities ( Kid Chameleon
uses the power ups in that way) or simply upgrades, like having more hit points
and powerful weapons after each upgrades. These transforming power ups can often be lost through damage. Some power ups transform the enemy instead of you. For example, in Pac-Man
, when the eponymous character eats a power pellet
, the ghosts
flash white and blue, indicating that they can be eaten for bonus points.
Health and Extra Life
Extra Life / 1-Up
The 1up allows to a player to die more often. This power up is rare and is often found in platformers, shoot em ups, and beat em ups, but can also be found in other kind of games. Some other games makes the 1up a reward for gathering things like money, coins, rings ,carrots, candy etc. Once you have a certain number of them (usually 100) you gain an extra life.
In most games, health power ups are medpacks and similar items (healing food hearts and many others). These are made to increase or restore the players health. When health is increased, it can be a permanent upgrade to the player's health.
Health upgrades come in several forms. For example:
- The default health upgrade. This power up can upgrade the maximum default health. It can also restore health when obtained, like the adrenaline in Quake 2.
- Giving some extra health beyond the maximum level of health. This temporary health boost stops working when the player loses enough health to place them below the maximum level of health again. Normal health packs can't restore this bonus. However, subsequent use of similar items will restore this health.
- Temporary extra health. Unlike the above example, this type of health boost depletes over time, until it reaches the previous maximum amount of health.
- Regenerating health power up. This power up slowly regenerates any health the player may have lost. Most of the time, it only generates to the top level of health; however, it can also go beyond this level of health. Of course, the effects of regenerating health are usually temporary.
Evasive and Utility Power Ups
When invisible, enemies can't detect the player (or at least have a harder time doing so). This power up is found in many games, but it is especially true of multiplayer FPS games.
Extra speed makes it easier to evade enemy attacks. It also gives a temporary turbo bonus. In Arkanoid
-esque games, it can accelerate the ball to the point where it can be very difficult to catch.
This power up allows the player to dodge some attacks and reach high spots.
This power up is used to climb walls. It can be given through gloves or a suit. Its power can be dropped over time or have a certain number of hit points.
The slow down can slow enemies the entire game. This is often found in racing games and shooters.
This power up allows the player to fly. It can be given through jet packs (like in Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project
) or wings.
While this can be an offensive ability, it can be an utility ability, as well. It allows the player to lift up or break things that usually can't be lifted/broken with the default strength.
This is mostly found in games with a limited time to complete them. This allows the player to explore the level or prepare their actions more thoroughly. This power up exists in some turn-based games, where the player's turn can be extended by finding this power up.
This power up was made famous by Doom
. It upgrades the ammo carrying capacity of the player.
Breathing Under Water
This power up allows the player to breathe underwater. This can be permanent, like Banjo Tooie
, or temporary, like in Sonic the Hedgehog
Defensive / Offensive Abilities
This bonus multiplies the amount of damage a player can do.
Fire Rate Multiplier
This power-up allows the player to inflict damage more quickly. While it is usually applied to firearms, it can also increase the rate at which somebody strikes with a melee weapon.
Predictably, this temporarily allows the player to have infinite ammo. While this usually applies to all weapons a player has, in some games, the more powerful weapons cannot have infinite ammo.
Unlike infinite ammo, the ammunition can still be depleted. However, it is somewhat similar to infinite ammo, as lost ammo is regenerated.
Ghost Power Up
This not only allows the player to pass through physical objects, but also makes them invulnerable to physical attacks. However, non-physical attacks (energy attacks, telekinesis, elemental attacks, etc.) can still do damage.
Clones/companions mainly give some additional fire power. Their actions can be dependent or independent from the player's actions. Sometimes, they virtually allow you to take more damage, since they will take the damage, not the player.
This can give the player a temporary invulnerability bonus.
This type of power-up is special, since they can, among other things, upgrade the player or change the behavior of weapons. This may also include some similar components as the other power ups.
Super weapons are often screen cleaners in shoot them ups. They often appear in the form of a mega bomb and have very limited ammunition or a very slow recharge time. This weapon often helps the player in the hardest situations by destroying all enemies on the screen. The fact that the weapon is very limited means it must be used wisely, adding strategy to its use.
Some games allow the player to select power-ups themselves, instead of taking what the game gives them. For example, the shoot em up Gradius
allows the player to choose their power-up based on how many cells they collect.
The "Power Down"
Once a power-down is grabbed, they often damage or kill the player. The only way to avoid them is either to dodge/avoid them when they appear or simply don't trigger their appearance.
Made famous by Command & Conquer
games, they can provide several bonuses like promotions, money or free units. Some of them can contain power downs, which often destroy the units who opened the crate