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Video Game / Pow Ball

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Screenshot showing wormholes

PowBall is an MS-DOS Breakout game made by Anthony Hamilton in 1995 and rebooted as PowBall Renaissance in 2015. It features 100 levels and several expansion / mod packs, as well as a full-feature level editor to add limitless variety. Players use the standard Arkanoid method of bashing bricks with Mining Balls to collect the gems inside, while avoiding hazards and space pirates. Players can use the gems they sell off to purchase a variety of tools and weapons to further their mining efforts. The game features a two-player simultaneous mode.

The story features a bleak world set in the 25th century. With 40 billion inhabitants, resources become more and more scarce with each day that passes, causing massive wars to break out over the remaining pockets. In a miracle of timing, a crystal was discovered that could be refined to any substance required. You are among a valuable asset of miners, known as the Rockhopper, tasked to mine this precious material from planetary debris to save mankind.


PowBall provides examples of:

  • Attract Mode: Once the demo option has been pressed, the AI will play random levels until you stop it.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: Two player simultaneous.
  • Crapsack World: The story sets this pretty well, though fortunately for us, we're too busy in space trying to save everyone.
  • Level Editor: Fully-featured one built-in that lets you create new levels as good and complete as the original ones.
  • Invisible Block: Brick #518 in the editor's palette screen, as its help file informs us.
  • Respawning Enemies: Up to four spawn points can be assigned per level to spawn up to 9 different enemy types at random intervals.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The asteroid shooting gallery a player has to fight through once a level is beaten. Becomes less unexpected once you find they are played after each level.
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  • Weak Turret Gun: Averted. They may shoot randomly, but their damage and toughness can make up for it.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Not at all true. Dying makes the player lose one of each of their weapons, making it hurt more the more the player has equipped. Pretty much guaranteed to be a huge loss each time you die, if you don't outright game over. It helps that you can save after each level, but there are no continues if you do forget.
  • Video-Game Lives: Up to 4 spare may be purchased at a time, for as much as the most expensive weapon costs.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Players never level-up. They only get better based on their personal skill and equipment purchases.
  • Power-Up: The standard speed-up/down, multi-ball, etc. power-ups can be found and then activated with Mining Balls. There is also a half-dozen set of ammo that can be found.
  • Starter Equipment: You always start with 5 mining balls, 2 extra bats, a matching amount of twin plasma guns, and 100 rounds.
  • Asteroid Miners: Somewhat the premise of the game, which is then done literally after each level as you navigate your way to the space-station shop and the next planet/debris cluster.
  • Hitscan: The machine gun weapon.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: One-way wormholes. They work exactly how you'd expect.