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a game by Sega, and Bullfrog Productions
Genre: Strategy/War
Platforms: PC (1992), Sega GenesisGenesis (1992)
Editor Rating: 7.3/10, based on 8 reviews, 9 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: God Games, Populous Games

Up for a little pillaging? Step into the power-hungry boots of PowerMonger's conquest- crazed Captain and try to take over a medieval world one piece at a time. Just don't hope for great graphics to show you the way.

Power Play

PowerMonger will be familiar to anybody who's played the previous versions on the PC or Genesis. There's also a resemblance to the Populous games, but here the goal is more savage: You want to conquer everyone in your path, whether that means enslaving them, recruiting them into your army, or slaughtering them.

A point-and-click interface accesses information and executes 16 different commands, while tiny 3D graphics show you the results. To succeed, you'll have to do some spying, invent new weapons, trade goods, kill animals for food, and buddy up to helpful locals. The point-and-dick controls are slow at first as you try to understand all the icons, but they quickly become comfortable. An interesting aspect of the control is the Posture setting. If your legions perform their tasks with an overly aggressive Posture, they're likely to kill a few too many innocent villagers. But if their Posture is too passive, they might not kill enough, or they won't invent weapons what're strong enough. Decisions like these are the heart of the game.

ProTip: Constantly refer to the Captain's Window and scroll around the Overview Map to help keep your bearings.

Battle Fatigue

Cutting into whatever enjoyment the military strategy offers are relatively weak graphics. There's almost no introductory footage, and the maps are so pixelated that you can barely see what's going on or who's who. After going through lots of slow strategy, a nice visual payoff of your decisions being executed would've really added to the FunFactor.

The sounds do what the graphics don't: They help and entertain you. You can tell what's ahead from feint sounds in the distance, and all kinds of martial sounds (the stomp of marching soldiers, for instance) rouse your fighting spirit. A few of the sound effects are unclear, however, and you'll wish you had good voices coming from the onscreen characters.

  • Full stomachs help an army march well, so keep your store of food well supplied by slaughtering sheep you find.
  • Conquest is easier when you're well armed. Your men can Invent superior weapons for use against larger forces.
  • Don't be too aggressive, especially at the beginning when you have few resources. If you kill everyone you're trying to conquer, you won't have any new soldiers to recruit or people who can perform tasks for you.

Military Intelligence

It's complex, it's time-consuming, and with 195 territories to conquer, it's big. All of which means it should adequately satisfy advanced gamers who love strategy simulations. Look elsewhere if you want high adventure and intense action, but look to PowerMonger if you're in the mood for a long, slow pillage.

You can keep enemies from making Inventions by chopping down trees.

Download PowerMonger


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Game modes: Single game mode

Player controls:

  • Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
  • Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
  • "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
  • "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
  • "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)

Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.

Game Reviews

Powermonger, this time it's war! The story so far... once you were King - until an earthquake abruptly ended your regal status, and now, not caring for life as a humble commoner you set forth overseas with what few remaining subjects you have, to battle for a new Kingdom. Your task is to conquer 195 separate territories, in each of which you must gain control of 2/3 of the population. You achieve this by applying various strategies within each territory, but ultimately it comes down to war.

Exactly how you fight that war, or perform other functions like trading or diplomacy, is decided by your level of aggression at the time of giving the order, but you can move from passive persuasion to complete butchery of the local 'populous' (a small clue to the roots of this game) depending on your strength - and your mood.

Unfortunately after successful completion of each territory, regardless of how gross and well-equipped your army, you must begin afresh with only a handful of ill-equipped men. This does allow much testing of different strategies, but also makes the game feel very fragmented. Oddballs who find stealing weapons and macabre scenes of mindless violence being inflicted on enemy personnel morally reprehensible, can chose instead to invent and manufacture various weaponry from ploughs to cannons. What you can invent depends on the people and facilities of the towns you occupy, and is limited to only eight items, and weapons of genocide are not on the list.

Aspiring diplomats will be disappointed by the lack of scope in this field, being restricted to making treaties or trading weapons and pots for food, but as the conquests become increasingly difficult your effective use of diplomacy becomes essential for success.

Rarely does one play a game where sound plays such an integral role as opposed to just being peripheral knobs and bells to make the game more interesting. The sound of wood being chopped or metal being worked means a nearby tribe is inventing and manufacturing pikes or swords, sheep bleating denotes a nearby rogue larry just asking to be served as lamb chops. Seasons change too, and the wind noise gives warning of winter approaching. The sound does much to enhance gameplay.

Powermonger is good fun and is supported by a good engine and a smooth, if sometimes confused, mouse interface, but it loses the long term strategy element required to play with the big boys, being a fraction of their price and not being hard disk hungry. It's a game to install and return to periodically, 195 times in fact.

  • Manufacturer: Electronic Arts
  • Version: Amiga, Atari ST

PowerMonger, the latest game of conquest from Bullfrog, uses a similar interface to Populous, the British design team's first game. It thrusts the player into a real-time world as a rather insignificant general who must take over the entire game map through diplomacy and battle.

The PowerMonger screen is divided into two sections. In the center is the close-up map of one part of the current sector. The detail is incredible. Arrows fly, men roast sheep for food, water flows and rain and snow fall from the sky. The left side of the screen shows an aerial view of the sector and icons for rotating and zooming in and out on the close-up view.

The strategic map can be switched to focus on contour, objects, settlements or food. This information instantly pops up via colors and dots as the player jumps back and forth between map profiles to keep up on sector changes. Orders in PowerMonger are issued entirely with the mouse, using command icons.

Watching over the action above the close-up view are the player's captain, any subordinates and the opposing captains. Click on a captain's medals to get important information about him and his troops.

PowerMonger is a fascinating war game that takes the player into the intricacies of conquest. It represents the workings of small groups of soldiers led by people like Napoleon and Alexander the Great as they traveled across the land.

The most important factors in playing PowerMonger are the same as any real army's: supplying the men with food and attracting new troops. After conquering two or three sectors, the number of soldiers is greater, but so is the challenge of keeping them loyal, fed and strong. There are sheep all across the land to kill for food. If the army goes hungry, the soldiers will stop, even when in the midst of battle, to forage. This most often leads to defeat. Many games are cut short by lack of food. Make sure that there are enough supplies for everyone, even the inventors and inhabitants of the conquered towns.

The more complex options in the game, like inventing, diplomacy and spying, are not necessary in early sectors. The player should only attempt these functions after getting used to the rest of the game system. It is better to spend more time in the earlier sectors to build up numbers of men and food in an environment that is relatively easy to explore.

The graphics and sounds in PowerMonger are simply excellent. The 3-D effects in the close-up window are unique to Bullfrog. As the close-up view rotates, the program reveals more of the landscape to the player. The detail in the game is impressive. Birds fly overhead, angels of dead men rise to the heavens, waterfalls tumble from up high, men walk around in their daily routines and battles come to life right in front of your eyes. As the seasons change, rain and snow cover the close-up view.

Sound effects are very important in the game. Sheep "baa", men respond to commands by saying "yeah" in a way that reflects their enthusiasm or lack of it, soldiers celebrate wins, birds sing and workshops are noisy as townspeople invent new weapons.

PowerMonger is a unique game that opens the player's eyes to the human side of conquest. The economics of battle reveal themselves dramatically. Bullfrog brought all of the best elements of Populous into PowerMonger, then added a lot of realism while upgrading all the bells and whistles.

A couple of years ago, a game from England called Populous brought the gaming world to attention. Few computer gamers could resist its unusual player interface and eccentric scenario. In Populous, you play god and can cause earthquakes and floods arid all sorts of neat disasters. You use these disasters as well as miracles to control a world's population.

Now Bullfrog, the designers of Populous, have taken their unique view of gaming a step further, creating a war game that, while more down to earth than Populous, features a gaming world so realistic it's almost spooky. If you have an IBM-PC compatible, an Amiga or an Atari ST, rush down to your nearest software dealer, and pick up a copy of PowerMonger. You won't regret it.

When you get back from the software shop, join us on the short tour of PowerMonger that follows, wherein we'll look at some helpful strategies for hopeful captains. If you don't have Power Monger, read along anyway. Of course, no short photo essay can tell you everything you need to know in order to play PowerMonger successfully. If you want to be a top-ranked captain, be sure to pick up your copy of Master Populous & PowerMonger; published by Sams and written by yours truly, available soon in better bookstores everywhere.

  • Machine: Amiga

Although it's a little late to be talking about the Game Player's Awards for 1990 (they were announced last month), and a little early for the 1991 awards, Powermonger is clearly a future contender. That's not surprising, considering that it's the latest effort from Bullfrog, the British programming group that produced last year's award-winning Populous. Although Powermonger is not a sequel to Populous (Populous II is coming a little later), it takes the concepts that made Populous a smash hit and carries them a step further. As result, Powermonger is an even richer, deeper, and more rewarding game.

In Populous, you played the part of a primitive tribe's god. In Powermonger, you're reduced to the role of a dispossessed king who wants to conquer the world. This is no easy task, because the map of the world is divided into 195 sections, and you've got to reach the bottom right corner of the map before you can consider yourself the ultimate powermonger.

In each section of the map you start out with a captain and his small band of followers. Your mission is to conquer villages until two-thirds of the population is under your rule. You do this by forging alliances; by attacking weak villages and bringing their people under your control; and by building (or taking) weapons that make your army more powerful. You are opposed not only by the native inhabitants (who fight fiercely to defend their homes), but also by roving bands of other invaders. In addition, you must keep your army supplied with food and contend with forces of nature (such as rain and snow) that slow your marches.

The layout of the game screen and controls is very similar to that of Populous. In the center of the screen is a scrolling map of a small area of countryside, viewed from a three-quarters perspective. You can move around this closeup map by clicking on arrow icons or by positioning the cursor on a tiny overview map which appears in the upper left comer of the screen. Though the manual doesn't say so, you can also scroll around by pressing the cursor keys. As in Populous, the figures on the close-up map are very small, but their actions are quite lifelike.

This sense of realism is heightened by the simulated 3-D effects. You can zoom in or out on the map, and even view it from any angle by using rotation controls.

At the side and bottom of the close-up map are various control icons. By clicking on them, you can send your captain orders - instructing him to attack, to build weapons, to get food from a friendly village, or to march from one spot to another.

One of the most important controls is one that allows you to display an information window about any person or object on the screen. For example, you can click on a building in a settlement to find out what kind of building it is, who's inside the building, who rules the settlement, and what quantities of food and other supplies are stored there. By clicking on an individual person, you can find out the person's name, age, occupation, and loyalty. This feature allows you to learn a great deal about the little figures that go scurrying around the screen.

Another source of information is the game's many sound effects. In the Amiga version of Populous, you could always hear a heartbeat that represented the health of your tribe; in Powermonger, you can always hear the breathing of your captain. When it's slow and regular, all is well. When you give your captain an order, he'll respond by saying "Yeah" - loudly and enthusiastically if he agrees with the order, or less so if he feels it's a bad idea. When your army wins a battle, the men cheer loudly. Sometimes you can hear the troops murmuring among themselves as they sit around the campfire. As you move around the map, you'll hear various local sounds. Saws and hammers indicate that the enemy is building weapons; the bleating of sheep identifies a potential food source; singing birds tell you that spring has come at last.

Powermonger is chiefly a game of skill and planning. Brute force doesn't always win the day: If you kill too many of the local inhabitants, there will be nobody left to produce food, and no new recruits for your army. Since the conditions are different in each land, you must also vary your strategy. In one place, for example, food may be in short supply, so getting groceries might be your main goal. In places where there's a lot of water, your army may want to use boats for conquest, but taking too many will reduce food production in the fishing villages. In some lands you've got to attack quickly and repeatedly to succeed, while in others you've got to bide your time and build your forces - or face instant annihilation.

The game becomes even more complex when you take over a village that has its own captain. Since he, too, comes under your control, you can give him orders just as you can your original captain.

Although Powermonger is not a fast-action arcade-style game, neither does time stand still while you're deciding what move to make next. Your army's food supply is constantly being consumed, seasons are always changing (which determines how much food is available and how easy it is to travel), and your enemies are building weapons and perhaps even conquering villages themselves. If you have several captains under your control, it takes some fancy footwork (or mousework) to watch all of them at once. It's quite possible for one captain to be attacked and wiped out while you're leading another captain to war.

Although there's a lot to learn before you master Powermonger, the beginning worlds are easy enough to tackle after picking up only a few commands. As you progress, new twists and obstacles are added to each world, and you must learn new tactics to overcome them. The deeper you get into the game's options and strategies, the more exciting and challenging it becomes. With game play that is deep and engaging, and extraordinary graphics and sound, Powermonger may become an even bigger hit.

Power Monger sets the player as a ruler struggling to reclaim the kingdom he lost during violent storms that destroyed his civilization.

You must first appoint yourself as the captain and build an army along with your loyal subjects. Create weapons, barter for food or items, and prosper as you prepare for battle against those who have taken advantage of your absence!

Take on PowerMonger, new from the makers of Populous! You are the leader of a displaced tribe, newly arrived in an uncharted territory - a living world where each individual has a home, occupation, and level of intelligence. Conquer 195 territories before the world is yours, or play a random computer generated map. Millions of maps are available! Unite the world under your rule, and win the allegiance of the people through force, negotiation, or....

The Bogard Boys and their brawling band of bruisers are back in action on the SNES. Need some more of that Fatal attraction? You'll get it with this game, which features new characters, new backgrounds, and new moves from the previous Fatal Fury. Want some great fighting and knockout moves? That you may have to search for in this lopsided, two-dimensional game.

Fightin' Words

Translated directly from the Neo∙Ceo, this game's song remains the same. You fight against a brawlin' bud or against the computer in a best- of-three slugfest to determine who's the king (or queen) of the Fatal fiefdom. There's a diverse make-up of fighters, from an old man (who's butt- kickin' abilities are still sharp) to a young, nubile martial arts Madonna (who makes Lorena Bobbit look like a schoolmarm). Each character has their own unique person-ality, along with a range of special moves. Some of the moves are very pretty to watch, like Mai Shiranui's Fan Toss, while others are standard fireball-tossin' fighting staples.

You play as one of eight characters and tear through the other seven opponents to find that you have to contend with three bosses. The last boss, Wolfgang Krauser, is a huge fighter with super-fast moves (or at least faster than yours), so it ain't over 'til the fat lady breaks out the bandages.

Gorgeous Gorges

The graphics definitely don't live up to their Neo«Geo heritage, and the character sprites seemed to suffer in the translation. For instance, when Mai does her flaming fan, the opponent doesn't even catch on fire, which they do in Fatal Fury Special. The background graphics are great, with full-palette renderings of Mount Rushmore, the canals of Venice, the Australian outback, and even a magnificent ballroom complete with a full symphony.

It's too bad they didn't use a real symphony for the sound, because it's tinny and useless. It doesn't add anything to the game, and the yellings and mutterings of the characters are unintelligible. Better dust off the Walkman -- you're going to need it.

Broken Battle

The control in this game really makes you furious. Some of the special moves are hard to perform, and even though you repeat the identical joypad command twice for a specific move, you get two different results. Study that manual, grasshopper.

The game's speed really affects the fighting action; compared to other brawlers on the market (and even the preliminary version of Fatal Fury Special), it's so slow you'll swear you were battling Mrs. Butterworth. The final problem is the game's too easy. You can battle through on the normal setting without a hitch, setting this game up as a "Renter Wanted" commodity.

Combo with Cheese

Are there combos in this game? If you're lucky, you'll find a way to string a couple of moves together for some good hits. Better get your licks in early, because a character like Big Bear can get lucky and override the skill of any player by just jump kicking his way to victory. Hey, who said life was fair?

The numerous flaws shouldn't turn you off to the Fatal family forever. This game is just a step up from the previous Fatal Fury, but a couple of flights down from a great fighting game like Super Street Fighter II. If you love the Fatal fighters and you want more bang for your brawlin' buck, then hold out and wait for Fatal Fury Special, which contains everything this game doesn't -- speed, combos, and great graphics. Until then, scrape up the three bucks and head out to rent this one.

Power! It's your divine right, but you're currently a king with no country and only a handful of loyal followers. With a little luck, and a lot of strategy, you just might find a new kingdom to rule in PowerMonger.

A Game for Would-be Kings

PowerMonger's a strategic simulation that's more or less similar to Populous. Based on a popular PC and Amiga title, the game puts you in charge as you and your soldiers try to conquer enough of the game's 195 different territories to become ruler over the land.

Although PowerMonger is a complex and absorbing game, its intricacies will definitely have a limited appeal for many gamers. You view the one-player action via several different on-screen windows. The central window displays a view of the landscape that features nicely rendered, multi-scrolling, 3D graphics, much like those in Populous.

A hodge-podge of sounds highlight the action and cue you to different goings on, but they're hard to follow and some (e.g. the creaking sound) are more annoying than helpful. On the other hand, the tramping of your soldiers' feet as they march and the roar of their campfire are downright guaranteed to stir your fighting blood.

Command Performance

Your control of the action is via a point-and-click interface. You move from window to window and select any of the 20 icons that line the right side of the screen. A thick manual details all of the possible actions you can take, but it's up to you to discover their ramifications. Since the Genesis' control pad is limited to three buttons, the different button combos are somewhat tricky to master. The game's commands were more straightforward on the PC.

ProTip:: Read the manual, or you won't have a clue!

The game play is complex and time consuming, definitely not recommended for gamers who like their action down and dirty. In the initial scenarios, your trusty band of followers is armed with knives and a small amount of food. Led by you, this hardy group roams the countryside in search of territory to conquer. To succeed in your quest, you'll have to form alliances with villages and enemy Captains, force other soldiers into your army, invent new weaponry, trade goods, transfer men and weapons among several different armies, and always, always, always keep your soldiers fed!

Passive-Aggressive Game Play

A really cool level of complexity is added with your ability to control the aggressiveness of your followers. For example, if you attack a village passively, you're more likely to form an alliance and spare the inhabitants. If you attack aggressively, you'll notice a lot of little angels floating skywards. If your men invent passively, you'll probably get a plow. When they invent aggressively, they're more likely to produce a weapon. Get the idea?!

One key to conquering more technologically advanced territories is to invent a Cannon. Work hard to get your men to build an iron mine, invent a Cannon, and then blow your enemies away.

More Power To You

Overall, PowerMonger's a good video game adaptation of a PC classic. The biggest loss for fans of the original is the two-player head-to-head mode. Playing against the CPU's just not as much fun. Despite its drawbacks, pick up this game if you're in the mood to burn and pillage a little countryside.

  • Where there are birds, there are usually trees.
  • Sheep are an excellent source of food. Whenever you run across them, slaughter them to add to your cache. Remember that you can store surplus food in hidden bunkers across the landscape and return for it later.

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots

See Also

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