Codex Gamicus

Basic Information

Power-ups are items found in video games which aid the player by providing some sort of positive effect when collected. Power-ups may improve the player's score, give the player weapons or items, increase the player's health, activate temporary powers, or have numerous other effects. Some power-ups are activated immediately when collected, while others may be added to an inventory, depending on the game.

Power-ups may be pre-positioned throughout the game (either randomly or by level design), or dropped by enemies. In many multiplayer games, pre-positioned power-ups will respawn after a short while. Some games have power-ups delivered through special means, such as randomly by parachute drop in Worms Armageddon.

Types of Power-ups[]

  • Health: Health power-ups increase the player's health or hit points, usually to a maximum level. Health powerups often take the form of hearts, food, or medkits.
  • Armor: Similar to health power-ups, armor power-ups boost the player's armor points, usually to a maximum level.
  • Score: A score power-up exists exclusively to boost the player's score in a game. While a score power-up does not have any other direct effects, it may indirectly trigger another effect in games where the player receives awards upon reaching certain scores. Examples of score power-ups include treasure in Wolfenstein 3D or fruit in Pac-Man.
  • Coin/collectable: Collectable power-ups, such as coins in Mario series video games, do not provide any effect on their own but when collected in a certain number will trigger a bonus (usually an extra life).
  • Weapon: A weapon power-up gives the player access to a new weapon. Depending on the genre of the game, this may be added to the player's inventory (such as in a first-person shooter video games) or replace the player's current weapon (often in scrolling shooter video games).
  • Extra Life: As the name suggests, an extra life adds a life to the player's current number of lives. Sometimes a power-up will add multiple lives. A single-life power-up may also be known as a "One Up" or "1-Up" (a term from Super Mario Bros.), while multiple lives will replace the one with the number of lives provided. Extra lives are most frequently found in platformers.
  • Special: Countless types of special power-ups exist, which activate a special power or effect which is generally temporary. Here are some common examples of special power-ups:
    • Invincibility: As the name suggests, this type of power-up makes the player invincible to damage, most often for a temporary period of time. An invincibility power-up does not always completely prevent player death; for example, in many classic 2D platformers an "invincible" player can still fall off the screen and die.
    • Invisibility: Most common to first-person shooters, an invisibility power-up makes the player partially or completely invisible to enemies. This type of power-up is usually temporary.
    • Damage: A damage power-up boosts the amount of damage a player's weapon or attack does, most often temporarily. Damage power-ups are often labeled with a multiplier and then an 'x' (example, 4x, which is read "four-times" and indicates damage multiplied by four).
    • Defense: A defensive power-up decreases the amount of damage the player takes from enemy attacks. Sometimes labeled as a fraction, such as 1/2 (one-half damage).
    • Speed: A speed power-up boosts the player's rate of speed, usually temporarily.
    • Wings: A wing power-up makes the player to fly for a short period of time.