Let's get something straight right from the get-go...Jim Power In Mutant Planet for the PC-Engine is not a very good game. Not in the slightest. However, exceptions can be made when the soundtrack for said game is absolutely mind-blowing. So before we continue, please enjoy this six-minute mix of Jim Power music, composed by Chris Huelsbeck. It's pure 80's sci-fi synth heaven.
Ok, with all that out of the way let's talk gameplay. Jim Power is a hybrid action game, part side-scrolling platformer and part horizontal shooter. You maneuver Jim through the levels, collecting keys to proceed past locked doors, jumping and shooting at enemies and trying not to die.
After that, you get to control the jetpack through a horizontal shooting sequence to get to the next level.
The story kicks off with a video message sent to Jim Power, informing him that the President's daughter Samantha has been kidnapped by Vulkhor, the ingominous devil from a Mutant Planet in a Galaxy called Exortos, which lies at 538 million light years from Earth (I promise you, I did not just make this stuff up).
Somehow Jim Power zaps himself 538 million light years away to the Mutant Planet, and thus the game begins.
The biggest problem with Jim Power's platforming sequences is in his jumping mechanics. Unfortunately, whoever programmed the game did a horrible job in getting the jumping right, and it's essentially a gamebreaker. There are numerous objects to avoid and platforms to jump to, and because Jim can't jump properly it's going to result in numerous deaths. The other problem is that Jim can't take shit for hits, and one hit by ANYTHING in the game will obliterate the dude into a pile of dust.
These issues make for a very frustrating experience while playing Jim Power. So much so, that I ended up using a cheat code to make Jim invincible just to get through the game. All you have to do is enter WHOCHEAT as the password before starting the game, then once the level starts press Select + DOWN.
You will be given 9 lives, and although you can still be killed during the platform sequences (invincible in boss/shooter levels), you do not lose a life and can continue on where you left off.
Jim Power In Mutant Planet is a pretty short game lasting around 5 levels. Using the cheat mode, it can probably be beaten in 30 minutes. The graphics in this version are so/so. Some of the mini-bosses and level bosses are cool looking, but forgettable.
Speaking of Bosses, once you get to Final Boss Vulkhor, the ingominous devil from blah blah etc...prepare to laugh. I almost feel sorry for the guy, as it appears he got beat with an ugly stick. He looked pretty menacing during the opening sequence, and I don't know what the designers were thinking, but menacing ain't one of 'em now.
The game ends abruptly once Vulkhor drops dead. We get a scene showing Jim Power standing on top of the cave over Vulkhor's corpse and then a THE END screen with him and Samantha. I guess we should be glad it's finally over.
Jim Power In Mutant Planet was redesigned by French developer Loriciel for the SNES, adding new levels and 3-D graphics. The game was renamed to Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D and even came packaged with a pair of 3-D glasses. I have not had a chance to play that version yet, but apparently the same gamebreaking mechanics were still implemented, as I hear the SNES version is considered one of the most difficult games ever made.
In the end, just as I mentioned at the very beginning...it's all about that Jim Power soundtrack. It truly is one of my favorite soundtracks of the 16-Bit era. Chris Huelsbeck, who also composed the Turrican soundtrack, produced an absolute gem here. So if anything, play the game just to enjoy those rockin' tracks. I'll leave you with a few of my favorites.
Jim Power In Mutant Planet - Title Theme
Jim Power In Mutant Planet - Stage 1
Jim Power In Mutant Planet - Stage 3
Jim Power In Mutant Planet - Stage 4