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P.O.W. (Prisoners of War)

P.O.W. Prisoners of War is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up video game developed and published by SNK.   Released in 1988, the game was initially developed for the arcade and was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System the following year.

Players are placed in control of the captain of the Army Special Forces Unit “M” who has been imprisoned by the enemy forces GOON (Government of Offensive Network).   In order to infiltrate GOON and eliminate their leaders the captain of the Army Special Forces Unit allowed himself to be captured and imprisoned to execute a strategic plan to attack the enemy from behind enemy lines.

The game starts as the captain begins to execute his plan of attack by escaping the prison cell.   Gameplay begins as players takes control of the captain and starts fighting their way through the enemy’s camp.  The game consists of four stages, a POW camp, a warehouse, a jungle and the enemy’s base.  The arcade game features a multiplayer mode allowing a second player to escape from the military prison along with the captain of the Special Forces and to fight along his side to stop the enemy forces.

SNK ported the arcade game to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989, releasing first in Japan as Datsugoku: Prisoners of War.  Unlike the arcade version of the game the Nintendo Entertainment System’s adaptation did not feature a multiplayer mode.   The port was a single player experience but retained the same premise as the arcade version.  Along with the removal of two player co-op the port also had to alter the control of the characters due to the Nintendo Entertainment System’s controller lacking a third action button.  The majority of the moves were retained by the addition of button combination such as pressing B and A simultaneously to preform a jump kick.   Other actions were preformed by using similar button combinations with only the headbutt attack not being included in the Nintendo Entertainment System adaptation of the game.

K. Amusement Leasing Co. (Japan)
Electrocoin (Europe)
Media TypeCabinet
Genre(s)Beat ’em up
Multiplayer (Arcade version)
Development TimeTBD
RatingPre-Dates ESRB
Rereleased Platform(s)Ports
Famicom – June 30, 1989
NES – September, 1989

SNK 40 Anniversary Collection – 2019

The port’s graphics were drastically scaled back to allow the game to run on the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Although the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game had numerous alterations and some features removed that were included in the original Arcade game, the port also made additions to the game that were not found in the Arcade game.  These additions include huts and rooms where players can obtain power-ups by defeating the enemies inside and new enemy characters, as well as a new final boss.

Both the Arcade and Nintendo Entertainment System versions of the game were generally well received upon release.  The game performed quite well for SNK and has been included in the SNK 40th Anniversary collection that was released in 2019.

Game Screenshots:

An overview of P.O.W. by NES Friend


NES Friend

NES Friend is a YouTube channel that provides overviews and reviews of Nintendo Entertainment System games.

Eikichi KawasakiExecutive Producer
Toshikazu TanakaSound
Profile PlaceholderYoko OsakaSound
Profile PlaceholderKazuhiro NishidaSound
Takashi TsukamotoDesigner
Profile PlaceholderYoshihisa MaedaDesigner
Profile PlaceholderHideki FujiwaraDesigner
Profile PlaceholderOsamu KamadaDesigner
Profile PlaceholderF.KiyoshiDesigner
Profile PlaceholderKazuhiro NishidaProgrammer
Profile PlaceholderA. YamashitaProgrammer
Profile PlaceholderSho ChanProgrammer
Profile PlaceholderAkira GotoProducer
Profile PlaceholderYasuharu EbaraHardware

Arcade Cabinet

Nintendo Entertainment System (North American Release)

Famicom (Japanese Release)

Media & Promotional Material