PC cover art
|Publisher(s)||Playmates Interactive Entertainment (US)
BMG Interactive (Europe)
|Designer(s)||Brian McNeely (Game Design / Direction)
Ezra Dreisbach (Programmer)
PowerSlave, known as Exhumed in European territories and Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu (西暦１９９９ ファラオの復活) in Japan, is a first-person shooter developed by Lobotomy Software and published by Playmates Interactive Entertainment. It was released in the US, Japan, and Europe for the Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, and PC over the course of a year from late 1996 to late 1997.
PowerSlave is set in an area around the ancient Egyptian city of Karnak in the late 20th century. The city has been seized by unknown forces, with a special crack team of hardened soldiers sent to the valley of Karnak, to uncover the source of this trouble. However on the journey there, the player's helicopter is shot down and the player barely escapes. The player is sent in to the valley as the hero to save Karnak and the World. The player finds himself battling hordes of evil creatures including mummies, Anubis soldiers, scorpions and evil spirits. The player's course of action is directed by the spirit of King Ramses, whose mummy was exhumed from its tomb by these evil creatures.
Throughout the game, gameplay follows a standard first-person shooter formula. Familiar elements from the genre, such as collecting keys to open doors in a level, are present.
As the game progresses, the player character picks up a number of artifacts which give him new abilities. Such abilities include being able to jump higher, levitate, breathe underwater, walk in lava, walk through force fields and jump further to reach previously inaccessible areas of the maps. In a similar fashion, there are a number of key symbols (Power, Time, War and Earth) that can open sealed doors in previously visited areas. In the console versions, each map is connected together by a world-overview map in a similar manner to Super Mario World.
The first version of game to be released was on the Sega Saturn, shortly followed by a release on the PlayStation, with tweaked gameplay, added architecture, some different levels, and other changes. Both these versions are based on Lobotomy Software's SlaveDriver engine and feature a true 3D world, similar to Quake. The same engine was used to power the Sega Saturn versions of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake.
Besides some changes in the levels (extra rooms in one version that's not in another, added architecture on the PlayStation), the levels Amun Mines, Heket Marsh, Set Palace, Cavern of Peril, and Kilmaat Colony are almost completely different between the two versions. There are exclusive powerups on the Sega Saturn such as the All-Seeing Eye, Invisibility and Weapon Boost. Also exclusive to the Sega Saturn is the ability to bomb-boost, which is similar to rocket jumping in other FPS games.
Level progression is non-linear, letting the player go to any previous unlocked level at any time. Extra exits to new levels and parts of levels are only accessible after getting the many different abilities, very similar to the Metroid series. This adds an exploration aspect not usually seen in FPS games at the time.
The PC version of PowerSlave is quite different from the console versions.
- The PC version runs on the Build engine, licensed from 3D Realms. The version used is a slightly earlier version, written sometime before Duke Nukem 3D.
- The HUD interface is different; featuring an ammo counter, lungs (oxygen levels) for swimming and animated mana and blood vessels.
- Players have usable Mana energy that can cast spells once the spell has been acquired (e.g. collecting a torch allows the player to use energy to illuminate dark areas).
- Ammo is not universal. Instead of blue orbs usable for all weapons, separate ammo is needed.
- Some sprites are different (e.g. M60 machine gun), sprites are larger and more animated in general.
- Audible words are used for the player character instead of grunts.
- Grenades are used instead of Amun mines.
- Mummies fire a "white skull" attack, or a partly homing red one, that when hit, turns the player into a mummy momentarily, additionally with the most powerful weapon in the game (mummy staff).
- Checkpoints are placed throughout the level by indication of golden scarabs.
- Saving is automatic between levels.
- Red spiders are used instead of blue scorpions (also known as Terranians).
- The light sourcing from the Slavedriver engine is not used; the Build engine's own light sourcing is used instead; the game also uses "fake" dynamic lighting where sectors light up as projectiles or "glowing" objects in general pass through.
- Levels are conducted in a more linear format. Players can replay previously completed levels, but later stages may only be played after completing the level prior.
- The Manacle of Power fires a lighting cloud above the enemy, rather than firing lighting bolts from the player's hands.
- Most of the artifacts from the console versions are not present (except the Sobek Mask, which is a spell).
- The Saturn version's powerups are included as spells (invisibility, invincibility and double damage).
- The Ring of Ra weapon is not included.
- Weapons pause to reload after a certain number of shots fired.
- Some enemies have different death animations when killed by fire/grenades, bosses have longer death animations.
- There are extra lives instead of health extensions.
- The Amnit enemies are not included; instead there is the giant Ammut miniboss which has ramming and biting attacks.
- There is additional story text.
- The transmitter, which was a set of eight key items needed in the console versions to get the better ending, is not in the PC version per se, but it is seen before the final stage of the game, where the player receives orders to attack the Kilmaat ship. Likewise, the Team Dolls are not in the PC version.
At one point, the PC version was to be released by 3D Realms as one of their games to show off the power of the Build engine. During this time, the game was known by its working title Ruins: Return of the Gods. Apogee Software released screenshots of the early working version with a slideshow of another of its published titles, Mystic Towers. 3D Realms eventually dropped the title, which was then picked up by Playmates Interactive Entertainment and published.
Voice narration in the game was performed by Don LaFontaine, also known as "The Voice-Over Guy".
- Interview with PowerSlave's Developer
- Review of Saturn Version
- Information on PowerSlave including team doll locations and Death Tank