I didn’t know what to expect when I loaded Jim Power into my NES. My jaw dropped when I saw that intro cutscene. For a brief moment, I was that ’80s kid again, coming home from the rental store with Ninja Gaiden in hand, inserting it in the NES, being blown away by its cinematic intro. I was amazed, but would the game retain that same feeling of excitement throughout? Let’s see.
Now you’re playing with Power!
You play as Special Agent Jim Power, the last and only hope against the evil Vaprak. The gameplay is very simple: you shoot everything on sight while jumping and avoiding obstacles. Simple, but not easy. It’s one of those games where you have to memorize every enemy placement and pattern until you finally reach the end of the level. It’s a painful process, but it’s a fun game, and since the universe is threatened with extinction, you simply cannot quit!
I haven’t played the original SNES game, so I can only appreciate this de-make for what it is. Based on the screenshots I’ve seen though, I can see that the transition was well done. The background is mostly gone, so the game is darker. That’s alright, it gives a more sinister tone. The animation of the main character is super smooth, especially when he’s running. The enemy sprites are detailed, colorful and well animated too. Shiru certainly did a great job adapting it to the NES limitations. There are some technical prowess here that might go unnoticed by mere mortals! Check out his website!
The music by Chris Huelsbeck absolutely rocks! It has that badass bass sample like the one from a Sunsoft soundtrack. Don’t know if Shiru also did the music adaptation, but it’s well done too. I had that intro music stock in my head for a couple of days!
As for the levels, there are 3 main areas to go through. They are varied and well designed, with enough creepy creatures, zombies and annoying wasps to keep you busy.
There’s a power up to upgrade your weapon and one to restore your health. Some are hidden, often at the beginning of a level. They will appear only if you move forward a bit and then come back. However, every time you get hit, it downgrades your weapon. I hate this mechanic, Blaster Master had the same. But since Vaprak threatens all life in the known universe, you have no choice but continue playing.
In some levels, Jim Power actually uses his jet pack. They play like a shoot-em-up, a bit like Gradius. Each of them ends with Jim fighting a gigantic boss. They are short, but they add a welcomed variety of gameplay.
Wait for it…
One thing that bothered me, and it is a minor complain, is the obstacles designed to slow you down. You wait for some energy balls to align so you can jump over them, you wait for a moving platform to come toward you, you wait for those spike platforms hanging from the ceiling to go back up, you wait for your gun to charge, you wait for that enemy you just shoot 7 times in the head to die, you wait a lot. This shouldn’t normally be a problem but since it is a hard game, you will get tired of waiting after those when you reach a thousand try! I would have prefer a more dynamic approach where you run non-stop, shooting at everything, like Contra.
Another minor complain is the fact that you stop running when you charge your gun. While charging, you can only move while jumping around like a fool. It’s tedious and only slows down the pacing.
There is no save feature, not even a password system. You have to finish the game in one sitting. It isn’t a very long game, but I’m a busy bee! I can only play short sessions here and there. So I did what we did in the ’80s, I let the power on for the whole week, hoping my kids didn’t turn it off!
After beating the game in normal mode, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to replay in hard mode, mainly because I didn’t want to fight those wasps again! But I’m glad I did. Not just because I got all the girls at the end, but because I came to appreciate the game more. Beating Vaprak without getting hit once was an exhilarating experience. Although Jim Power Lost Dimension is not perfect, it is a fun and challenging adventure. If you’re a fan of this genre, you certainly have to give it a try!
My score: 8 annoying wasps out of 10
Where to buy (physical): https://www.strictlylimitedgames.com/
Where to buy (PC): https://store.steampowered.com/