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Of PID & Powerslave Comparison Part 2
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 2/23/23 10:36 a.m.

Continued from Part 1

5. Powerslave Exhumed

Powerslave Exhumed is the remaster of the original Sega Saturn version. For easiness sake, weíll call it by that name and the DOS version as DOS Powerslave. This one is closer to PID so weíll go through what we havenít already covered as well as the talkthrough bits.

We start the game and already the map screen looks a lot better than DOS Powerslave. It reminds me of Sonic Advance 2, Dungeon Keeper 1 or Rayman 1/Rayman Advance. It still looks nothing like Karnak IRL, especially the volcano but what can you do?

As said above, the red spiders are still in the game but we also have blue scorpions that function more or less the same way, originally unique to the Playstation version. Spiders were Saturn only.

Like Pathwaysí later levels, the Egyptian influences are noticeable in the tomb walls at the start. Pharaoh Ramses II has no subtitles this time and his instructions are different:

He tells us to seek out 6 powerful artefacts required to defeat the Kilmaat. Those artefacts could be parallels to the Isfet crystals in PID, the nuclear bomb, and the Alien Gemstone. In gameplay, they are the Metroidvania artefacts we need to reach new areas.

Unlike Marathon and DOS Powerslave, you drown in 5 seconds as soon as you go underwater. There's no Sonic bubbles either so we need that Sobek mask to survive.

Also like Marathon, hazardous substances boil down to lava and toxic goo. (no pun intended) Unlike most shooters including the Build game, lava and goo are instant kills when you fall in. We need a varia suitÖI mean protective anklets to survive.

Other than the gameís plot, setting and opening story, this was the second or so PID similarity I noticed in the game: your hitbox is too wide. In the PID Tour of Duty, I speculated that Sergeant Eddings was either incredibly fat or had huge ears. Itís the same case for Sergeant Sand here: I got hit by fireballs that I was standing to the side of.

In normal sized small hallways, you cannot dodge enemy attacks at all.

The ancestor of Metroidís Hi-Jump Boots.

In Pathways we need to find a radio beacon to signal the extraction team to pick us up after the bomb is planted. In Poweslave Exhumed, we need to do the same thing except the radio beacon is in pieces so we need to find them scattered throughout the different levels.

They look like holy water showers, but theyíre teleporters that bring us back to Ramses tomb.

While PID has us gain health from every 4XP we earn, Powerslave simply makes our health extensions ankh pickups like the energy tanks in Metroid or the Argent Energy balls in Doom 4.

I thought Set was exclusive to DOS Powerslave but no, heís in Powerslave Exhumed too only smaller and fought in a cool primitive coliseum. No Kilmaat spectating though like Marathon Infinity, but omen wasps like to hide in the jars here.

Mummies in Exhumed are more like Greater Nightmares if they couldnít fly and didnít explode. Their cobra staffs are highly damaging and hard to dodge.

We even get a cloak item though its purpose is completely different to PID. We have a bit of ďSípht interrogation sceneĒ dialog from Ramses upon returning: he describes what sounds like a magic fire weapon but itís really the flamethrower. Unlike the DOS game, the Flamethrower in Exhumed is the opposite. Itís like the Marathon one if it all enemies were weak to it and had a much longer range.

Hereís where the hitbox can cause problems. If youíre too impatient, youíll get hit by those fireballs.

In Marathon, you never have to grenade jump. Here, itís the only way to reach the next transmitter piece on that ledge behind the platform unless you come back with the flight feather.

If Powerslave DOSís omen wasps are Marathon Eternalís wasps but bigger, Powerslave Exhumedís omen wasps are Marathon 1ís but smaller: theyíre not annoying in this version, weak to everything and easier to hit except maybe with the knife.

Unlike Metroidís varia suit or PIDís violet potions, the anklets only make lava and goo behave like regular hotplate polygons. Itís damage resistant, not immunity. We need them to reach the Nile delta swamps and get that health ankh in Setís Palace above.

In the Halo SPV3 Tour of Duty, I likened the swamp in 343 Guilty Spark to a full 3D version of the Marathon Rubicon swamps on Plun Darr AKA Pfhor Prime. Powerslave Exhumedís Heket Marsh is the logical in-between step from the two, especially as the Slavedriver engine is full 3D too, albeit designed to work on the Sega Saturn as opposed to Macintosh or Xbox. The anklets will come in handy if we fall into the swamp but you still gotta bunnyhop your way to safety.

The flamethrower most certainly does not suck in this version: it has long range, everything is weak to it and it does good damage at the cost of still not having enough fuel. It also has no splash damage this time.

This palace seems to be in the mouth of the Nile, implying itís a reference to the lost library of Alexander the Great in the ruins of Old Alexandria. (Though that is further west) Now, we have a bit of a similarity to PIDís Watch Your Step level: Breaking jars, statues etc. can give you extra health, weapon power or double weapon power (in this version a giant purple human egg cell instead of a red one, no longer an inventory item) randomly. However, as the game goes on, jars in even early levels start to become booby trapped a lot more often: omen wasps or scorpions may be hiding in them or even sometimes bombs that launch clusters of cobra staff shots you canít dodge. But the real comparison to PID in that regard isnít the trapped jars, itís this:

Take Watch Your Step from PID and combine it with Post Navel Trauma in Marathon Infinity, except underwater instead of in a vacuum. Fuck this level, especially on the original console with its strange looking controls. Mouse & keyboard on PC is a lot fairer but those sea mines are a pain in the arse. Get close enough to trigger them and you usually canít swim to safety in time before they blow, forcing you to use grenades/Amun bombs to destroy them from a distance, on top of being harassed by piranha fish instead of flying lizards. Thereís air pockets in some areas and you need them. Like Watch Your Step, point markers are rare.

Guess we do get dead bodies after all: those slave corpses in this deserted concentration camp count as ďjarsĒ. We can only talk to Ramses though.

The Path to Selkis is giving me Flame Core vibes in its design. It isnít the only stage either.

Like Set, Selkis is a lot easier than her DOS Powerslave counterpart: Her tail gun just fires the same cobra staff shots as mummies and we have ankh tanks, plus a full weapon power sphere behind and above a secret wall. This seems to be a running theme with the bosses in general. Maybe itís because the game was optimised for consoles originally?

PID has us use the green Isfet crystal to kill sentinel monks so their forcefields donít obstruct our path. Powerslave has us do the same with a staff, minus the monks. In practice, it works like the weapon shot coded doors in Metroid. Weíll be doing this to retrieve a radio beacon piece we missed in the marsh or rather, couldnít get at the time.

I forgot to say this at the start but camels serve as our PID ladders. The main difference is that while they do lead to particular maps, they always open the map screen first which also lets us travel anywhere else instead, like a level exit and fast travel system in one.

Oh boy, magma fields. I wasnít kidding when I said some lava levels in Powerslave Exhumed reminded me of Flame Core. Unlike DOS Powerslave which revealed all its enemies too early, this is where we meet an old ďfriendĒ.

The Magmantis is much smaller in Exhumed and easier to fight but no less dangerous. They cannot be killed and simply fuck off if you damage them enough. If they swim under the lava, you can now see their tails surface occasionally.

Inside the volcanoís crater, I have to carefully fly down a lava waterslide without touching it as well as some sneaky shafts of lava with mines in some and a full health powerup in another until I reach a long shaft to the lava chamber with falls of the stuff on all sides.

This tunnel would be perfect for a slit scan effect. In the magma chamber below are more magmantises. Beyond is a path (level exit) to the neighbouring mountains.

At the pinnacle of Horus Peak is the final artefact we need to fight the Kilmaat: The tanuki feather powerup from Super Mario Bros 3 on Famicom. You think Iím kidding?

More like Fissures of Fright. Hidden here is the final radio beacon transmitter piece, hidden in magmantis infested lava fissures on a ledge guarded by lasers. Youíre gonna want to be flying a lot here.

Thereís a clever but obvious pun in their name: Kilmaat. Maat is the Egyptian name of creation and order in the universe. These insectoid/reptilian aliens are opposing it and making abominable experiments in mockery of the Egyptian gods. On top of that, their reptilian sides are associated with Apophis i.e. Apep, the snake god of chaos or Isfet. In short, those aliens Kill Maat.

Iíll get my coat.

The Kilmaat Colony actually looks unique in Powerslave Exhumed compared to Powerslave DOS. It looks like an actual advanced alien city, like something out of Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker Doctor Who. Maybe the Pfhor live in cities like this too, though the ones in Marathon Eternal loved their purple, much like their ships.

Remember the nuke warehouse full of trip mines in Half Life? Say hello to its predecessor. Lasers are always instant death in this game and we need to carefully fly between them using the feather. This is where the PID style hitbox really pisses me off as itís so easy to hit a laser from being too high even though there looks like thereís space, or fly sideways into a vertical laser as you were concentrating on avoiding the horizontal ones. An octagonal grid of them activates after getting the key and I donít know how to get out so I just grenade jump while flying to reach the catwalk.

Unlike DOS, itís much easier to dodge the Kilmaatís shots and youíll need to. They deal a lot of damage and I was close to death by the time I reached their sanctuary. Fuck the sanctuary. Itís full of instant death plasma cannons one of which can be turned off for 3 seconds, piranha infested sewers with no room to dodge & with Kilmaat ambushes on the surface, lava & fireball cannon trap areas and unintuitive key hunting. In fact, if you miss an upper fireball trap & lava area above the first sewer with a specific secret wall at the end that can only be broken on this side, you softlock the game and have to restart the level as the only way out of that general area of the level with the first key you need is through that same wall. The sewer water is too high to try flying or grenade jumping out of and I didnít have the health for the latter anyway.

My thoughts when getting the full health powerup near the end were ďFucking FINALLY!Ē

Final Haunt if you will. Rumours of an ancient Black Pyramid which is neither Egyptian, Aztec nor Mayan have been circulating in the Karnak Valley since the invasion began. Iím gonna call it: thatís the Kilmaat ship.

The entrance is underneath this sphinx. Not as impressive as the Sanctuary one in Tomb Raider the same year on the same console as this i.e. the Saturn but A for effort.

Remember that semi-serious gag I did in the Pathways into Darkness Tour of Duty about 100 years ago where I laid the Isfet crystals in a circle and chanted a prayer to Solaris for safety before arming the bomb? In Powerslave, we have to do that for real: we sacrifice the artefacts and thus my powers in order to open the inner sanctum. The Kilmaatkhan waits for us in Xen on a small island floating in the void.

I run out of ammo for my machinegun but the flamethrower saves the day. I make her my bitch with only one langolier spawn.

See what I mean? Thatís clearly the Mirage Saloon act 1 boss and itís even fought the same way, albeit we do it the Shadow the Hedgehog way as like him, we arenít a pussy. At the end of the space catwalks is the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses II suspended in a large power syphon.

If we fail to assemble the radio beacon, Ramses offers us to join him in heaven as thereís no way for us to escape on foot and live unlike PID. Pyrrhus would be proud. He seals his tomb and we snuggle inside his sarcophagus with him. Unfortunately, the Kilmaat return, destroy the world, excavate our body and put us on display in their history museum as an example of humanityís conquest as revenge. Oops.

Except not as I was forearmed and got the beacon. Hereís what really happens:

Ramses has one final reward for me: He grants me immortality, his power and his kingdom on Earth. The sun will rise at my command and I will rule everything itís rays touch. And in return, all earthly life will bow at my feet and give worship. ďMay the gods shine on you, and give you peace for all eternity.Ē As his coffin closes for the final time, the wall with the relief of Anubis tending to Ramsesís body shatters and the tomb begins to collapse as Ramses seals himself inside. You know the drill.

A lot more explosive than the final escape in PID or System Shock 1 isnít it?

As we will later see in System Shock 2, Sergeant Sand speaks for the first and only time in Powerslave Exhumed as I board the chopper: ďLetís get the hell of out of here.Ē

Iíve done it! Iíve saved the world! With the Kilmaatís defeat, the people of Egypt rebuild the new kingdom.

A huge ceremony is held in my honour and the world rejoices at my heroics inside the pyramids and tombs. As if by magic, world peace is declared.

Several hundred years later, my immortality and power over Earth is proven true and I become King of the World. And I & those I care deepest about lived together happily ever after. I am Destiny.

BAD. ASS.

Thatís what the original Iron Maiden song Powerslave was named after was about right? How awesome it is to be God? Eat your heart out, Durandal. This is one of the best endings to any media I have ever witnessed. Itís a far cry from Powerslave DOS and another reason I consider Powerslave Exhumed and the original Sega Saturn game to be the definitive version of Powerslave.

As the genmaicha tea following this meal, I am treated to the Mother 3 Mr Saturn coffee scene as the credits role.

I also give a second opinion of the game through Civvie 11ís video I found it by.

Interesting how he compares the hitbox to a Macubus wearing a mascot costume: Greed the Big Blue Meanie in PID is exactly that. Gman lives has a good video on it too as well as comparisons between versions.

Summary of similarities: plot, certain enemies, hitbox, cross-legged monks, dead squadmates, radio beacon, grenade jumping, Kilmaat design, powerups & required items, save points, back & forth level design, a tough level of mines & annoying enemies, forcefields we use a green artefact to break, the pyramid blows up at the end and we escape with an extraction team.

So in conclusion, while the game isnít exactly like PID or Marathon, they do have suspiciously similar elements in places though I admit theyíre really subtle. The next game or rather 2 games we cover is a lot more direct with its similarities despite still not being directly inspired by, though the second one almost certainly is in some way. Next time, System Shock!

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