In the Modern Classics series, I take a look at some of the best new game releases for my favourite retro systems: the Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga. Almost all of these games have been given a proper commercial release on disk, tape or cartridge. In a way, they are the next generation of C64 and Amiga games.

For this edition of Modern Classics, I'll be taking a look at two versions of the same game: Powerglove for the Commodore 64 (cartridge version) and Powerglove Reloaded for the Commodore Amiga.
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Above: the packaging for Powerglove and Powerglove Reloaded.
Powerglove is a great action platformer in the Metroidvania style. In the game, you play as a fearless hero out to save the world from certain death by err, the lights going out. See, after squandering all of our fossil fuel resources, humanity is fully dependent on two giant thermal reactors for energy. And one of those two reactors just blew up!

Luckily, it can be repaired by going to the reactor site itself and using the five control diamonds that can be found there. Less fortunate is the labyrinthine layout of the place. Oh and there is the minor niggle that all the maintenance robots have gone rogue. As a result, they have decided that you make an excellent target to test their lasers on.

In short, you're going to need some serious protection. Enter your shielded suit and the powerglove.

The suit protects you from the cold, harsh environment of the north pole and prevents damage when you fall or leap down from great heights. It also helps to protect against the previously mentioned army of rogue killer robots and aids you during navigation by automatically mapping out the areas of the reactor you visit. The powerglove gives you a powerful laser weapon to defend yourself and allows you to interact with the control diamonds. To further aid you, upgrades to your suit and other items are scattered around the base, amongst which a set of rocket boots, keys and health kits.

Despite all this, Powerglove is not a particularly easy game. Partly because it rewards a slower, more methodical pace of play than most games do. It actively punishes you for rushing ahead blindly anyway - this can cause you to lose your only life fairly quickly. The deliberate choice of a slow scrolling speed further reinforces this point: running ahead literally blinds you to what is going on. Another reason for the game's difficulty is the relatively high inertia of the player character, which makes precise movement harder. Coupled with the fairly low number of health pick ups and the one-life limit, the result is a game that can be quite hard.

However, there are two types of hard: 'fair' and 'unfair'. And Powerglove has managed to stay firmly on the 'fair' side of things. The collision detection is certainly not overly harsh and enemies are almost always sensibly placed and well designed. The same can be said for the layout of the rooms themselves, although the game is somewhat fond of hiding enemies from your view. Apart from the odd difficult jump it's usually clear how to proceed (or alternatively, that you clearly need an extra upgrade to continue).

In short: die a lot? Change your playstyle and you'll do better next time.

The above might sound somewhat negative, but trust me - the game is a blast to play. The map to explore is big and logically laid out, the enemy robots are a fun challenge to overcome and it has that feeling all good games have: you want to keep playing to see how far you can get. The game also rewards exploration with extra health pickups and mystery items that boost your score as well as shortcuts back to the start of the level. If you like slower paced action platforms, you really can't go wrong with this game!

In fact, the only real gameplay issue I see is the game being fairly long for one sitting and that you can neither continue after game over, nor save your progress. Other than that, it's well designed and offers up a sizeable challenge for its players to get their teeth stuck into. Personally, I recommend you check it out if you like metroidvania style games or action platform games in general.
Above: a video showing gameplay for both version of Powerglove.
Gameplay differences between the two versions are relatively minor, but do exist: the C64 game lacks bosses, has one less upgrade to collect and has a considerably smaller map than the Amiga version. The Commodore 64 version also misses the terminal at the start, though this doesn't change the game by that much. Also, the Amiga version supports both one and two button joysticks, with the second button being used to jump. Other than that, the games essentially play identically.

Graphically, the differences are much bigger. Powerglove on the C64 looks nice enough considering the system it runs on, but some of the size limits (the game was originally released as an entry in a 16KB game competition) do show here. This is not to say the game is boring or lacks animation though, the player character animates very fluidly and each of the monsters has genuine character - one of my favourite ones is that squid/face hugger thing that hugs platforms. I also like that the backgrounds are clean and that, thanks to intelligent colour choices, it's always clear what is what.

The Amiga version however, is a very clear step up. It looks extremely nice. The colours are very well chosen, the monsters simply ooze charm and the player still animates very nicely. To top it off, there is a great looking parallax background layer and some really nice explosion effects. I know this is subjective, but I'm really impressed by how good this looks. I suppose you could argue the game's levels looks fairly simple and isn't very 'busy' on screen, but this doesn't take away from the sheer quality of what is on screen. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the better looking games on the system and it certainly doesn't feel out of place compared to the better commercial releases from the 1980's and 1990's.

Sound is also (obviously) rather different. Both version have music and sound effects, but the sound design is quite different between the versions. The Commodore 64 version has (as far as I've heard so far) one in game tune and basic sound effects - both playing at the same time, which is relatively rare. The tune itself is a good one and manages to be both atmospheric and not overly 'present', which is good as the game is fairly long and the tune manages to not get boring regardless.

For the Amiga version, there are several tunes in the game, which switch as needed by the room you're in. This seamless switching feels very 'console-like' and adds to the quality of the game. The sound effects are very good, with nice voice samples and meaty explosions. Just like the Commodore 64 version, the game plays music and sound effects at the same time and the tunes manage to not overstay their welcome - even though you hear them play a lot.

Most of the differences are actually due to the hardware. Both sound good and which you'll like best is purely subjective. That said, the Amiga version's music and sound effects do feel more like a '16 bit console game' - which is nice to hear.

In conclusion, I like Powerglove and the Amiga remake is in many ways the 'ultimate version' of the game. It's not quite a 'full' metroidvania, it has too few upgrades for that, but it does hit the mark for slowly exploring a map and having to find the right tools to overcome new obstacles you find on your path. It's good fun to play and both versions come recommended by me, more so if you enjoy the slower pace inherent in these types of games.

Powerglove for the Commodore 64 is published by RGCD and is available on cartridge from The Amiga version, Powerglove Reloaded, is also published by RGCD and is available on CD-ROM and floppy disk from their store. Digital versions of both games can be found over at

8 / 10