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Video Game / PowerSlave

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PowerSlave (a.k.a. Exhumed in Europe and Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no FukkatsuTranslation  in Japan) is a 1996 First-Person Shooter released for PC, PlayStation and Sega Saturn. It is set in Egyptian ruins and makes the player fight alone against plenty of demons and undead, making it a kind of Doom or Duke Nukem 3D in Egypt. However, while the PC version is a typical FPS of the time, the console version distinguished itself by being a first-person Metroidvania long before Metroid Prime came out.

The story occurs in the end of the XXth century and puts the player in the shoes of a special forces soldier sent in Egypt (near Karnak) with a team to investigate weird rumors about monsters which appeared there and invaded the place. Their chopper crashes, and he is the only survivor. Later, he meets the ghost of King Ramses, who warns the hero of who the true culprits are: an alien race called the Kilmaat, who are using Ramses' corpse for some evil purpose.

After being unavailable for digital purchase for years, the PC version of the game was digitally re-released on by Throwback Entertainment on November 19th, 2020, with Throwback also working with Nightdive Studios to remaster the console versions of the game. Said remaster of the console version, titled Powerslave: Exhumed, was officially announced on August 14th, 2021 and released on February 10th, 2022.


Not to be confused with the Powerslave album made by Iron Maiden (although the title track deals with Ancient Egypt too), nor the Death Metal band of the same name.

This game shows examples of:

  • Ancient Astronauts: Set, the evil Egyptian god, appears as the first of the game's three bosses, and appears to be an alien (in fact he strongly resembles a cross between the Cycloid Emperor and the Alien Queen from Duke Nukem 3D). The connection between the Kilmaat and ancient Egypt is unclear (Ramses doesn't seem to consider them legitimate), but most of their Mooks are themed around ancient Egypt.
  • Ancient Egypt: Setting of the game. It takes places around Karnak.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The "Game Over" screen shows Anubis-monsters mummifying the hero.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The console and remaster's good ending not only sees you granted immortality by Ramses, but also you becoming the god-king of the world for eternity, leading it to a bright new golden age.
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  • Belly Dancer: A pair of Egyptian belly dancers can be found in an easter egg room in the PC version's third level.
  • Benevolent Architecture: There's bridges, pots and all sorts of other bits and bobs just begging for the hero to make use of. Given that this used to be Ramses' kingdom, its likely this is as intentional as he can make it.
  • Block Puzzle: Sometimes you'll have to push a number of blocks to progress, in the PC version.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Known as Powerslave in the US and Exhumed in Europe, the remaster instead simply combines both titles to form Powerslave: Exhumed. Plus the pun always helps.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: The Magmantis enemies are giant insect/crab-like enemies that pop out of pools of lava and spit giant fireballs at you. They're huge for a Build engine creature (larger than many bosses from other games), take a lot of hits, and can kill you with a direct hit. The first one you encounter seems like a mini-boss of sorts, but they quickly turn out to be regularly occurring enemies.
  • Cat Girl: One the games enemies are the Bastet's. Buxom lioness headed women that are agile and come at you in groups.
  • Censor Shadow: The Anubis enemy wears a short kilt, and in the PC version he falls over backward with his legs apart upon dying. In the console versions, he is gibbed instead.
  • Checkpoint: Even in the PC version, the game saves only automatically, at specific points, the beginning of the levels, and when you reach a golden scarab. In the PC version you also have a limited number of lives. To balance this out, the game is noticeably generally not Nintendo Hard, unlike many Build Engine games of the time such as Blood and Shadow Warrior.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Not exactly, but close. Dying in the PC version makes the player reappear next to the last checkpoint, with full life, all your inventory from when you died, and the killed monsters don't respawn. On the other hand the ammo and power-ups you previously picked up don't respawn either and you lose one life. (The console version has no lives counter, but also has no checkpoints - if you die in a stage, both the stage and your health/ammo counts are reset to how they were when you entered it.)
  • Determinator: The hero was the last survivor of his team after their chopper was shot down, and he braves all manner of unholy creatures in order to stop the Kilmaat.
  • Difficulty by Region: The Saturn version lets you carry about twice as much ammo as the Playstation version does. Powerslave: Exhumed splits the difference by making your ammo reserve about halfway between that of the two different console versions.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: The player can walk and shoot at the same time, but it is impossible for the monsters.
  • Easter Egg: On certain dates, the remaster's title screen will change when played on the dates that certain versions of the game released on. This not only includes the unique Playstation port's title screen, but the original PC version's and the Saturn's. Even the game's title will change, either to Exhumed on the Euro version's release date, or even the Japanese Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu title on that version's release date. Occasionally, however, it may just change to one of those ones randomly.
  • Emergency Weapon: The machete, which doesn't use ammo and is usable underwater (opposite to the firearms).
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Yeah, see those statues? Expect a lot of them to suddenly become animate and hostile the moment you turn your back on them.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The beginning of the game. Put simply, you're the only survivor of your team, the rest seem to have died when the chopper got shot down.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: There are monsters that look like Anubis (this is their name in the manual). In Egyptian Mythology, Anubis is the protector of dead people, not an evil god.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Except rats.
  • Excuse Plot: Some weird stuff is happening in Karnak, go in there and shoot up some stuff.
  • Exploding Barrels: Exploding skull vases in this case.
  • Fake Difficulty: No real saves and (in the PC version) a limited number of lives.
  • Game Mod: There are 3 source ports available to get the game to run on modern systems with modern mouse controls and modern hardware accelerated rendering (similar to GZDoom, EDuke32, or the Nightdive Studios ports of various Doom-era games). PCExhume (based on the EDuke32 engine), BuildGDX, and Raze (a continuation of PCExhume by the GZDoom team). Of the 3, Raze seems to be the most recent and to have the least compatibility issues on Windows 10, though the opening movie doesn't play when running the game on it.
  • Gorn: The game is about on the same level of violence as Doom.
  • Historical Domain Character: The spirit of King Ramses shows up in the first level; he's basically a limited form of Mission Control, periodically directing the player toward where they next need to go. (Voiced by Don LaFontaine, no less.)
  • Hitbox Dissonance: In the console version your hitbox is noticeably wider than in most other FPS games, causing you to be hit by projectiles that seem like they should miss you and also making you unable to fit through what seem to be human-sized gaps between walls.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: One of the health power ups in the PC version is a kind of berry-carrying plant.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: All enemies explode into these when they die in the console versions. In the PC version, they have individual death animations, some of which involve gibs. (All enemies still explode when killed with grenades.)
  • Market-Based Title: PowerSlave was known as Exhumed in Europe, and Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu in Japan. The Nightdive remaster uses both titles, possibly to avoid copyright issues with Iron Maiden.
  • Metroidvania: The Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions are possibly the earliest first-person example, predating Metroid Prime by several years.
  • Mini-Game: The Saturn version features a delightful Scorched Earth-esque game called Death Tank which you could unlock by obtaining all of the Team Dolls dotted throughout the game. The mini-game was unfortunately excluded from the remaster, mostly due to the Death Tank IP being owned by Snowblind Studios.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on the version:
  • One-Man Army: You. You're able to take on vicious animals, the undead, and other evils by yourself.
  • Poison Mushroom: The poison cups.
  • Recycled In Space: This is Doom (for the plot) and Duke Nukem 3D (for the Game Engine) in Egypt.
    • Averted, engine-wise, for the console versions, which use Lobotomy Software's own Slavedriver engine instead. Ironically, the Saturn port of Duke Nukem 3D uses Slavedriver instead of Build (as does the Saturn version of Quake instead of its own engine), presumably because Slavedriver is a rare case of a 3D engine that can leverage the Saturn's complicated architecture to great effect.
  • Sequence Breaking: In the console version, you can grenade jump to jump much higher than intended, allowing you to skip many sections of the game.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Like Doom, Powerslave has monster infighting, with monsters attacking each other if they damage each other with a stray projectile. Unlike Doom, monsters of the same type will still attack each other in this way.
  • Shout-Out: At the end of the game, after you take over the alien mothership and thwart the invasion, as the ship rockets into space your character exclaims "Damn, those alien bastards! How the hell do I get off this ride?"
  • Standard FPS Guns: There are seven weapons. A machete, a .357 Magnum revolver, an M60 machine gun, a flamethrower, some hand grenades and three magical Egyptian weapons (two with the PC version).
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The Hero can swim for a few dozen seconds underwater before seeing his health drained. He can make it last longer by catching big groups of air bubbles.
    • Super Drowning Skills: In the console versions, he can only do this once he has the Sobek Mask. Before then, he can't hold his breath at all and starts drowning immediately after going underwater.
  • The Undead: Mummies.
  • Universal Ammunition: A variation in the console versions. Ammo pick-ups are all generic blue orbs and will refill the weapon you are currently holding when you walk over them, but each gun has its own ammunition pool.
  • Video-Game Lives: The PC version; the player begins with three lives and can have at most five. The console versions, meanwhile, have infinite lives - you just have to restart the stage if you die, not dissimilar to Doom (albeit unlike Doom you retain the weapons/ammo you had when you'd entered the stage).

Alternative Title(s): Exhumed