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10 Greatest Power-Ups Ever Concieved From a Videogames Series (in no particular order).

Power-ups can grant players special abilities that aid them in their quest to save the world (again and again). Naturally, this is a tall order so protagonists employ a number of means to do this. This list compiles some of the most useful, amusing and iconic power-ups (and power-up systems) that can be found a videogame series (according to me anyway).

List items

  • Spreadgun. Yes the spreadgun can be found in earlier games but considering the amount of enemies and boss types that you'll face in any Contra game this gun served an excellent combination of both offensive and defensive purposes against them. Just find a little corner to hide in and kill off those baddies running on-screen and rack up those points (and in turn, precious lives). Apart from the handy spreadgun, Contra held other goodies like the homing shot and laser that were equally fun to use.

  • When it was released in 1985, Gradius filled in the usual criteria of a side-scrolling shoot 'em up. Lots of baddies to kill, high scores and of course, power-ups. In order to define itself from other side-scrollers, Gradius held a unique way of upgrading your weapons. By collecting orange orbs scattered throughout the level, players progress up a power-up bar. By collecting a sufficient amount of these, players are free to purchase whatever power-up they wanted from increased speed, bombs/missiles, lasers, etc.

    But what really defined Gradius was the ability to earn "Options". When purchased from the power-up bar (up to a maximum of four) these large orange orbs behaved just like the player's ship as it followed you around. Combining this with the appropiate weapons made player near invincible in almost every situation (so long you that you don't fly into a wall, losing everything).

  • With Gradius on top with the Option power-up, side scrollers needed to think of new innovating ways to change gameplay mechanics while still retaining the basics. Just like Gradius, R-Type behaved like any other space-based, side-scrolling shooter albeit one notable difference. The R-Type series have a held a unique concept of a "Force" power-up. This power-up appeared as a large orange orb that can be used in a variety of means depending on the situation. By collecting the either the red, blue or yellow power-ups, the force fired powerful projectiles so long it was attached to the front or rear of the ship, firing in that direction. If required, the force can also be detached from the ship and thus behaved like spreadgun.

    Another important aspect of the force is that it is invincible to minor enemy projectiles, making it a useful 'tank' for defensive purposes. In the right hands, the force is incredibly flexible and can be adopted to almost every situation. This concept was further expanded in R-Type Final with over 53 unique forces with 4 weapons to each (including when detached).

  • Controversial, fun and unique. The Carmageddon series differed itself from many other racing games in almost every respect. A large open world populated by humans (or zombies, robots or even floating dustbins depending which region version you bought.) Players can win by racing through checkpoints, killing off a certain amount of the population or by wasting your opponents.

    What made this even more amusing was the wide variety of power-ups that dotted the area. Some are useful like the Afterburner, Flamethrower, or Instant Repair. Others not so much, Gravity from Jupiter, Pinball Mode or Greased Tyres. Along with the power-ups came silly names to accompany them, Oil Slicks From Your Arse, Mine Shitting Ability and Kangaroo On Command. All in all, you can't help but chuckle when something goes terribly wrong with these and that makes Carmageddon that much better.

  • A racing game that's more family friendly then Carmageddon but just as fun with the unique power-ups that fit into the Mario universe. Mario Kart takes elements from it's platformer cousin and adopts them onto the racing tracks with amusing results. From the simple turbo mushroom to the intimidating red shell, the power-ups made racing competitive, fun and balanced.

    In fact, the power-ups were so fun a Battle Mode exists where multiple players attempt to pop each other's balloons that are attached to their karts. As the Mario Kart series expanded, so they did the power-ups in each new title.

  • The Mario platform series has always been on the forefront in iconic power-ups to be found in all the Mario titles.

    Perhaps the most important three is the basic but handy Super Mushroom. This red, fungal friend causes Mario to grow in size and allows him to perform certain basic tasks that small Mario wouldn't otherwise do, from smashing bricks to knocking out enemies. In this state, Mario can also take damage once more before losing a life. In affect it the Super Mushroom behaves like a shield though it won't protect you from pitfalls or lava.

    Next up is the Fire Flower. Just like the Super Mushroom, this causes Mario to grow in size but more importantly allows Mario to throw fireballs at his opponents, eliminating them (or converting them to coins as it has in Super Mario World.)

    Finally, Starman. When collected it transforms Mario into Invincible Mario, making him immune to enemies and increases his speed. In this state, players have an instinctive behaviour to do nothing but run to the end of the level and through any enemies that they come across. The Starman also came with it's own theme tune, making it more iconic then most power-ups to be found in any game.

  • In his never ending quest of gluttony, Pac-Man encounters nothing more irritating then the Ghosts that pursue him on sight through the neon mazes that seperate them. If you can't beat them, eat them! That exactly is what players are encouraged to do whenever they come across a Power Pellet.

    Upon consuming this simple but deadly dot, the Ghosts are (ironically) thrown into a state of blue fear as they scuffle about the maze only to be gorged upon by our yellow friend, leaving nought but only a pair of eyes that return to the centre of the maze that transform back into their former selves.

  • As if blowing things up to kingdom come couldn't get and more fun, the Bomberman series takes this one step further with it's distinctive gameplay and power-ups. Though Bomberman had a fun single player campaign with it's big bosses and colourful worlds.

    Bomberman's multiplayer aspect really took the throne in competitive play. Combine four players with a variety of explosives can only mean danger in every corner. Whether it's mulitple bombs, massive explosions or remote control bombs sliding down the arena, players can do nothing but think of survival whilst attempting to blast away their opponents.

  • Countless times has Dracula risen from the grave and countless more times has he's been defeated with the help of power-ups. Though the Vampire Killer is enough to punish anything that's foolish enough to get in the way, it doesn't seem to be as versatile as throwing knives or axes. Being an unholy being can only mean trouble when you're getting blitzed with holy water (that oddly enough, bursts into flames when thrown), flying crosses or pages from the Holy Bible.

    In every Castlevania title, all power-ups require hearts to use. It is never explained how this works.

  • Ghouls 'N Goblins is hard. Even the first level can spell doom for the careless player that aimlessy runs/jumps around as zombies and other unholy beings crawl out from the depths of Hell. To survive such an encounter, a knight needs nothing more then a good weapon and shining armour. The right weapons are needed if players hope to traverse across the deadly terrain inhabited with even more deadly creatures. One hit and you're dead but if players are lucky to come across a suit of armour it can protect the player from one hit (as well as protecting your modesty).