Powerslave

aka: Death Tank, Exhumed, Ruins: Return of the Gods, Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu
Moby ID: 2522
SEGA Saturn Specs
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Description official descriptions

In this First person shooter, you're an armed forces specialist sent to investigate strange happenings at the ancient Egyptian city of Karnak. Soon you learn that alien invaders with a penchant for mummifying humans alive have taken over the place. You have to fight your way through increasingly difficult levels with an unbelievable cast in order to finish it.

Spellings

  • 西暦1999 ファラオの復活 - Japanese spelling

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (SEGA Saturn version)

49 People (42 developers, 7 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 27 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 30 ratings with 3 reviews)

One of the PS1's best games

The Good
At the start of this game, you have naught but a machete in hand, and an intriguing stone building before you. A few hours in, you're jumping (and soon, gliding) across precarious platforms, swimming through gloomy caves and silent sunken temples, sprinting through hails of fireballs and blasting monsters, inanimate objects and suspicious-looking walls into tiny, tiny pieces: all the while guided by the epic voice of Don LaFontaine. This is Exhumed: a game so ahead of its time that we didn't see its like until Metroid Prime.

The various weapons and powerups are great fun to use, and it's always satisfying to discover a new one (bombs, for example) and with it discover new areas in previous levels (say by levelling a wall). As your repertoire increases, so too do the levels become more varied: with more platforming, swimming or action sequences in different areas. There's plenty to do as well - a shrill bleeping will alert you to pieces of a transmitter array, dotted around the game-world, that serve an important purpose; and the most persistent of players will find little effigies of the development team dispersed throughout the game, which give completionists more reason still to revisit earlier levels with new abilities in a bid to unearth the elusive collectibles.

The difficulty curve is pitched quite nicely, as each level in turn is difficult at first, but easy with practise. Deaths are rarely cheap: you can get the hang of any bit of the game with practise. That said, the game can get very unforgiving: it is there to be conquered as much as experienced. This game has aged remarkably well: whilst weapons and enemies are sprites, they are rich in detail (and, visually, stand up far better than 3D characters of the time); and the levels still look decent, if basic and a little rough. Most areas are dripping with atmosphere, helped in no small part by the game's fantastic soundtrack.

The Bad
Like I said, your mileage may vary on the difficulty. Later levels certainly can prove frustrating, as there are no checkpoints: dying will restart the level, with the health and items you entered with.

Pre-dating analogue control, this game uses tank controls (to look about requires a button to be held down): and so the action aspect of the game hasn't aged nearly as well as other facets of the gameplay. The game also suffers lag at times, when a great number of enemies are killed simultaneously or a particularly large piece of architecture is destroyed.

Having only played the PS1 edition, I cannot comment on other versions.

The Bottom Line
Don't approach this game as you would a first-person shooter: the gunplay is far overshadowed by the adventure and platforming elements. Nothing short of epic at the time, it remains a brilliant, and nearly unique, game.

PlayStation · by Luke Kavanagh (3) · 2012

Only place where it feels most at home...

The Good
I used to have a time where 1st person shooters were my thing, despite the fact that I am more of a console person than a computer person. So naturally, my first crack at PowerSlave was the PC version.

Despite some cool themes, ideas, and more, I had one big problem that plagued me as I played the PC version: it didn't feel like a computer style FPS. I'll explain more on that later.

So, whilst hunting through a store some friends of mine own, lo and behold I came across the console versions of PowerSlave. Needing to fill a few gaps in my severely lacking Saturn library, I picked up the Saturn version of PS, and just for comparison's sake, the PlayStation version.

Out of all three, the Saturn version is the best one. More on that, but first, a retrospective look on the game itself.

The game starts with a small cutscene explaining that the Egyptian city of Karnak was taken over by hostile alien forces (aren't they all now? ^_^), and sealed off from the rest of the world. People were being mummified alive and horribly mutated, and from one survivor's testimony, the aliens wish to find the mummy of the great Pharaoh Ramses, thinking that he will hold the key to conquering all of Earth. So, as a rough and ready commando armed to the teeth, you're parachuted into the valleys of Egypt, hoping to stop the alien forces before they can resurrect Ramses.

So, as in any other 1st person shooter, you shoot enemies, solve some puzzles, and make your way to the exit. Along the way at certain levels, the spirit of Ramses will inform you of the alien's progress (for a dead guy, he's awfully well informed, ain't he? ^_^), and let you know of certain nasty surprises in some stages. You also have to fight a boss after every 4 stages, and some of these are quite nasty, especially the fight with the evil God of Egypt, Set.

But should I leave out mentioning the enemies? Hell no! Keeping with the Egyptian theme, most of the enemies you fight are pulled straight from Egyptian mythology, from Anubis soldiers, to scorpion demons, from scarab beetles, to Set himself, most enemies look right at home in the stages, which have some nice layouts and designs. Some stages are a bit long, so you get checkpoints to return to in case you get killed.

Weapons in this game are quite minimal, with only 7 normal weapons and one you can get only by letting a certain enemy (okay, okay, the mummies) shoot you. You get a machete, a six-shooter pistol, a machine gun, grenades, and a couple of mystical weapons like the Gauntlet of Ra, which will make crispy work of any nearby enemy. Your secret weapon is the Mummy's Staff, which is activated by getting shot by a mummy's skull, and being TURNED into a mummy! Quite a simple and SICK weapon too: raise up, mumble something, slam it down (BOOM!!!!), everything around you is instantly dusted, and you revert back to yourself laughing quite sadistically, heh heh...

For control, the Saturn version DOES take the cake. There's support for the 3D Control Pad that came with Sega's NiGHTS: Into Dreams, and trust me: I can't play the game without it. You get the analog stick to move, the D-Pad to strafe, and plenty of buttons for every function needed in the game. My biggest problem with the PC version was that you could barely reconfigure the controls, and there was lack of joystick support. The PS1 version lacked analog support, and the control scheme there was too wonky to even work half right.

Graphic wise, the game's graphics are best on the Saturn version. Everything is nice and crisp, moves quickly, and is chock full of detail, even up close. Looks like Lobotomy managed to wring every ounce of power the Saturn had in it, because unlike the PS1 version, there's no slowdown, and the game seems to be running the Saturn's hi-res graphics mode. The sounds are rather good, with lots of variety in the enemies, ambiance, and weapons, but they sound a tiny bit "boxy" on the Saturn. Not enough to really warrant a downpoint, though (then again it just may be my TV that sounds like that). It is, however, the music that shines through. Some people don't get it sometimes, but music IS a driving force behind a lot of games, and PowerSlave's soundtrack, while it may be overshadowed by other games, fits EXTREMELY well with the game's environment, and has plenty of variety between tracks. And since it's also playing straight from the CD, you can use it as a CD soundtrack for on-the-go fun. (Note: the PC version has the same thing; a CD soundtrack, but the PS1 version uses XA audio, so you can't use that version as a CD soundtrack.)

The Bad
I did have a few niggles about the game, though. This isn't the BEST game ever, mind you...

One thing that bugged me was that a lot of the stages were just too damn freaking LONG, and you got two checkpoints per stage, and you didn't get to save until you completed the ENTIRE stage. It did get annoying because some stages took up to FIFTEEN minutes just to complete!!

Another thing was that you had limited lives (see what I mean by this being more of a console shooter?), but at least you could take an unbelievable walloping before biting the dust, and at least there were a few 1-Ups in some stages, but you could only have up to 5 extra lives...no more.

And finally: a limited assortment of weapons eventually meant that it was all going to come down to just one weapon that you'd really need. Yep: the machine gun was about all you really needed since it could damage anyone. The mystical weapons were more novelty than anything, and the machete and pistol were just too weak for anything. At least you had that Mummy's Staff to look forward to...

The Bottom Line
Although not the crowning achievement of first-person shooters, PowerSlave was still quite fun, and most enjoyable on consoles. I would recommend, however, that Saturn owners find it for their giant black tank, as that version had the best features. The PlayStation version unfortunately suffered from a wacky control scheme and often nasty slowdown, and the PC version was just too plain for my tastes.

And beware of Set...EVIL, I tell you!! EEEEEEVILLLLL!!!!

SEGA Saturn · by Satoshi Kunsai (2020) · 2004

The sega saturn couldn't handle 3D games.. this games proves it.

The Good
For all the good points, read Satoshi Kunsai's review on this game. I think the game is an average old fps game among other old ones like ken's labyrinth, rise of the triads and blake stone 3D. What I personally like about the game is it's atmosphere, there is some north african music playing that really sets me in the adventurous mood. Also, the story fits well. I remember playing this game briefly on the PC almost a decade ago and I was pretty excited at first, but only a few minutes later I remembered why I didn't accept this title as a winner.

The Bad
The game is really hard! While they say this is one of the only fps games that runs smoothly on the Saturn, I think that is not true. The frame rate just flashes before my eyes and make it impossible to have a clear view on enemies and gaps. After a few plays I got stuck in Sobek Pass, this is not really a far progress, but there is where it gets hard. You need to jump over a few falling boulders, lava pits and balls of fire where one hit often means instant death. That wouldn't be so bad if they gave me the opportunity to save the game where I wanted to! After about 50 retries I just had enough of it. Every time you start completely at the beginning of that stage even after I retrieved an important piece of that transmitter. What I also didn't like about this game is it's simplicity. Sure I believe some places in the mountains in Egypt are full of rocks, but that doesn't mean they should design every inch you see in the same rocks over and over and over so all you can see are 4 colours in brown rocks. That is not realistic, that is L-A-Z-Y. Also there are very few weapons and a lot of them are worthless. The ammo refill always look like some odd balls. You have the grey balls, the brown balls, the purple balls etc.. recycling graphics is another symptom of laziness. Talk about ammo, your ammo and health are displayed by just two pathetic bars, so you can never estimate how much ammo you have left. And what is wrong with the enemies? Most of the time I am shooting at birds of prey, scarabs and north african killer bees that blink before my eyes. With the frame rate of 20-25 it is a chore to eliminate them and to adjust the view so you can point your weapon at them. Most of the time I was being hit by the flying creatures but I coudn't even spot them. The frame rate makes it also impossible to jump without falling off ledges and become one with the lava. One wrong move and you fall off, because with this frame rate, every step you make is equal to ten steps.

The Bottom Line
This is how I would make the conclusion. Back in the late nineties, 3D was it. Exploring worlds, in depth motions, looking from different angles etc etc and 2D became a foul word. There were a handful of successful 3D games, but a lot of them were just hideous. Have you ever wondered why super mario bros for the NES still looks good and a game like exhumed (as it is called in Europe) looks awfully bad. Exhumed has aged drastically so it can't be enjoyed and perhaps the Sega Saturn didn't have the capabilities to do 3D. But 3D is what the crowd wanted, and 3D is what the crowd got. And so what we have here is another title that is forgotten on the huge pile of failed 3D games and best to leave it forgotten.

SEGA Saturn · by Schutzstaffel88 (12) · 2006

Discussion

Subject By Date
PC vs. PlayStation/Saturn Dae (7006) Jan 31, 2010
release date antonis nikopolidis (15) Jan 17, 2010

Trivia

Game engine

This game used an early version of the Build engine developed by 3D Realms and made popular by Duke Nukem 3D. Even though the registered version of Powerslave was released long after Duke 3D, it used an earlier version of the engine, making it technologically inferior. While the DOS version of Powerslave uses the Build engine, the PlayStation and Saturn releases use Lobotomy's Slavedriver engine, which allows for unrestricted 3D architecture and real-time lighting similar to Quake. This is why in the Saturn and PS versions of the game you can see sloped surfaces and light coronas that aren't in the DOS version.

German index

On January 30, 1999, Exhumed (Powerslave) was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS.

Note: Indexed products by the BPjS/BPjM are illegal to sell or make available to minors in Germany and it is illegal to advertise for it in any form. But there is absolutely no law forbidding any adult to buy such a product. The only exception is when a game was in addition also confiscated (or put on the so-called "List B" for BPjM games), but this is rather seldom the case.

In this particularly case here, Exhumed was just indexed, but not confiscated.

However, due to the fact that advertisement also means the presence of a product on the shelves of a store, the product will disappear from the public. But it can be bought in supporting stores "under the desk" (per request).

BPjS/BPjM = German Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften/Medien = Federal Examination Office for Youth-Endangering Publications/Media.

Manual

The game manual does not have any installation instructions whatsoever.

Working title

Powerslave was originally set to be released under the 3D Realms label using the working title of Ruins: Return of the Gods. Screenshots of those early days were included in Apogee's Mystic Towers slideshow (circa July 1994).

Information also contributed by Kalirion, Maw, Medicine Man, Satoshi Kunsai, and Xoleras

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Related Sites +

  • Powerslave
    official game page at Playmates Interactive Entertainment's website, archived from 1997 by the Wayback Machine
  • SegaSaturn.co.uk Interview
    Interview with one of the designers and the lead programmer for the Sega Saturn version, Ezra Dreisbach.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 2522
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andrew Hartnett.

PlayStation, SEGA Saturn added by Satoshi Kunsai.

Additional contributors: Erwin Bergervoet, Satoshi Kunsai, Dae, Alaka, Kabushi, lights out party, MrFlibble, ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

Game added October 25, 2000. Last modified January 15, 2024.