The Top 7... Power-ups you DON'T want to collect

5) The bubble gun: Earthworm Jim 2

The original Earthworm Jim didn’t really go in for power-ups. It probably didn’t think it needed to. And what’s more, it was probably right. When the result of every one of your design meetings is essentially the product of the cast of Monty Python vomiting madness out of their eyes until Salvador Dali walks in and warns them to “Steady on, lads. You’ve gone a bit far”, the very concept of thinking of ‘special bits’ to stick on top of the normal gameplay is arguably unnecessary, and frankly a bit insulting to all concerned.

Earthworm Jim was a game in which you played a limbless worm in a power-suit who could use his own body as a whip or a grappling hook, fought a fish-belching redneck in a junkyard (not before fighting a tuba-launching monster made of tyres), before racing a crow through a black hole, fighting a snowman in hell, riding a giant pink hamster, battling a mad scientist with an upside-down monkey for a head, and guiding an idiotically happy puppy past inexplicable tentacles and asteroid showers in order to avoid him hulking out and killing you. Expecting a couple of special weapons or abilities to stand out from that lot was like expecting a veteran porn star to be aroused by a peck on the cheek.

Once we were used to the insanity though (or perhaps just bludgeoned into submission by it), Earthworm Jim 2 decided to dabble a little more with the pick-ups. We got a homing shot (that fired homes) and a spread-gun that fired from Jim’s fingers, but the crown jewel of the belligerently surreal line-up was the bubble gun. It fired bubbles. Not acid bubbles, or bubbles with killer sharks inside. Just bubbles. And when we say “fired”, we actually mean “weakly squeezed out with all the force of a gerbil fart”. And incidentally, the gerbil had been long-dead. And hadn’t even actually existed before it died, because it’s just part of an elaborate analogy we’ve just written.

Above: We know what you're thinking and we're sorry we had to publish such a frightening picture

The bubble just floated straight up. That’s all it did. It didn’t even hurt enemies it made contact with directly above Jim. Believe us, we tried to make it do so. We tried, we failed, and we cursed the name of the wretched bubble gun forevermore after.


4) Lightning Cloud: Mario Kart Wii

Surely everything you pick up in Mario Kart is going to be of some use, right? So what's the point of this one? Supposedly (though we can't really see it), it makes you go faster while it's hanging over you like a… well, like a thundercloud, actually. If it does have a positive effect, the difference is negligible, meaning all the attention turns to its other special 'benefit'.

This benefit boils down to getting zapped in the head by a smarmy-grinned thunderbolt. Sounds harsh? It is. We're sure it's meant to be a fun, hot potato juggle designed to set parties alight with hilarity and joy. It's quite literally 'pass the bomb', only with a cute little face.

But we all know what Mario Kart's collisions are like. You bump into each other… then you immediately bump again. There's no time delay before the cloud becomes able to be switched to another player, so as soon as you've passed it to someone else, they've almost certainly passed it back to you. And probably realised immediately what you're trying to do and so naffed off over the nearest hill.

Above: Luigi's only frustrated that he picked the damn thing up. He loves Mario really. Like a brother 

You're left holding onto your so-called 'power up', knowing full well what's about to happen. But then - aha! You remember another item. The power block doesn't hurt you if you jump when it hits. So you try doing that, only the cloud doesn't work like that, and now the extra momentum from the jump coupled with the spin-out animation from the zap carries you over the edge of the nearest ravine. Marvellous.

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - July 22, 2011 9:51 p.m.

    Heh. I love the evil mushrooms. Especially urging my friends to collect them.
  • Atari2600Forever - July 21, 2011 1:35 p.m.

    Mad props for the Bomberman love! Gotta play it on the Turbografix with 4 other friends (preferably after drinking keg beer all night).
  • papergoon - July 20, 2011 12:46 p.m.

    I've lived to see the day I picked up an EMP from a carepackage. Hijacked. Best MW2 moment.
  • 510BrotherPanda - July 20, 2011 4:02 a.m.

    I heard that in the NES version of the Lost Levels, the Poison Mushroom was A LOT more similar in coloration to the regular Super Mushroom. They changed it to purple + a skull in the SNES version to be a little "nicer".
  • snothammer - July 20, 2011 2:05 a.m.

    I personally like picking up the viruses in Bomberman. They're a fun gamble, because some of them are (arguably) good. My personal favorite is the flame trail in Bomberman 64. If you pick one of those up, you can kill all the other players with one swift movement. I think the main thing I didn't like about them is how some of them have no effect on computer players. For example, if the COM picks up a control reversal virus, it is totally unaffected. Damn AI programming.
  • IceBlueKirby - July 19, 2011 6:29 p.m.

    I always wondered about the bubble gun in EWJ2. I thought it MUST have some purpose, but now I finally know that, no, it didn't. It was there to piss you off. I hate the lightning cloud more than anything though, because unlike most of these other powerups you can't just avoid getting it. The game just gives it to you, and then laughs at your futile efforts to give it to someone else. Even the AI is smart enough to just bump back into you the second you pass it off, giving the game even more chances to laugh in amusement of your impending shrinkage. And then once you're shrunk someone runs you over. Splendid.
  • philipshaw - July 19, 2011 1:42 p.m.

    Great top 7 and number 1 is spot on
  • nokeisoka - July 19, 2011 9:06 a.m.

    The skulls in bomberman 64 specifically the flame one is pretty fun combine it with the heart and you can go around killing ghost and players with increased run speed and instant contact death while picking up your heart everytime you die.
  • jmcgrotty - July 19, 2011 8:03 a.m.

    Without bothering to give examples, the whole Mario franchise is flooded with pathetic and downright bad power-ups.
  • theoatmealguy - July 19, 2011 7:55 a.m.

    The molotov was a crappy weapon at first, but once the green armor is picked up, the flame gets much higher, and travels farther. Great for destroying ground based enemies.
  • Yeager1122 - July 19, 2011 4:53 a.m.

    The clouds alright as long as you pass it along otherwise yes it does suck.
  • Stabby_Joe - July 18, 2011 10:19 p.m.

    Finally! Some just had to call out that dam lightning cloud. In my experience it's sort of rare... and let it stay that way or nothing at all. Another pick up, while not a real example for this list is old school shooters where you have a weapon to suit your current needs then you land on another that is, let's say only good for bosses.
  • Mumb00 - July 18, 2011 9:27 p.m.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the article's title was the invisibility potion from Wizards & Warriors on NES. I suppose the Bomberman skull is the same thing when it triggers the invisibility effect, but it made your character invisible only to you! All the enemies could home in on you just as easily as any other time, and that stupid shimmer effect did not make it easy to be jumping the various narrow ledges trying to run away from the buggering things!
  • humpiedumpie - July 18, 2011 7:24 p.m.

    That is some verry funny writing there haha :) great article
  • jackthemenace - July 18, 2011 7:09 p.m.

    I've only ever gotten, like, 1 care package. So Cundy's better than me./ Oh, and I WANT THAT T-SHIRT
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - July 18, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    What the hell is wrong with the care package? If you are bad at the game, you usually get choppers or airstrikes. If you're good, that's when you tend to get uav's and ammo. If you don't like it, don't put it as one of your killstreaks. It's as simple as that.
  • rxb - July 18, 2011 6:11 p.m.

    The bombmerman skull is terrible but has resulted in some of my most hilarious memorable moments ever. The care package is a godsend for poor COD players, I stll remember the first time i got crushed by one, happy days......
  • Ampatent - July 18, 2011 6:10 p.m.

    Two things. The propensity of UAVs in care packages is a good thing because any FPS veteran will tell you that a UAV can change a match completely. Second, I imagine most of us would have figured out faster that the purple mushrooms were bad if the skull on them was actually distinguishable. Clever idea though.
  • Darkhawk - July 18, 2011 6:09 p.m.

    The Molotov was only ever good for one level in the entire "Ghosts" series. But man did it ever make that level easier. Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Genesis. Stage 4 boss. The boss in this level is this shelled maggot thing, which Arthur is actually standing on top of. Its weak points are on its body, and certain ones can only be damaged by standing directly above, jumping, and then shooting straight down. This is extremely tricky to do because not only are there smaller maggots crawling towards you, there are also flying worms above your head, making it impossible to jump half the time anyway. HOWEVER! The Molotov, being the only weapon that arcs downwards, makes it a lot easier. You can just crouch and lob fireballs down on to the weak points, and finish it off quickly and painlessly. Here's the boss in action. Unfortunately, this guy is using the spear so you'll see how much trouble he has:
  • batmanboy11 - July 18, 2011 5:44 p.m.

    Yeah, this is about right