Power Struggle

Power Struggle is a N64 homebrew game by The Shaders released on 9 Dec 2021.In it, you play as a robot that has to assimilate other robots on its way to the end of three levels. The game was made for the 2021 64brew game jam competition.

You can download the ROM from the download page for this homebrew game by using the password struggling4power or see the source code on Github and download from Drive.

Power Struggle style and gameplay

Style and story

Terraforming Program Status Report:

Power generation unstable. Malfunctioning service robots detected.

Establish link to mainframe and restore power. Use of force is authorized.

Damage robots to destroy their head modules. Robot chassis can then be hijacked by aiming with the analog stick and pressing [L] or [R]

The game takes place in a large terraforming area which looks like a huge bunker or science facility. Something like a low-poly version of the lab from Valve’s Portal.


At first the gameplay in Power Struggle is fairly straightforward. It’s a game where you have to progress through the level from start to finish without dying.

The level design is fairly linear with a few forks in the road that have keycards which allow you to progress. The third and final level is a bit different – the central room splits off into four branches where the six keycards are located and a fifth one where all the doors are.

Along the way, the main obstacle you’ll encounter are other robots that have gone haywire and will do everything in their power to take you down. They all have about the same amount of health, a few hits knocks their head off and a final attack destroys their body.

This is the fun part about Power Struggle comes in – after knocking robot’s head off, you can press L or R to move your ai into their body, allowing you to take over and play the game as them. This also recovers some health so it’s important to keep changing bodies to stay alive.


Throughout the game you come across a wide variety of robots that you can hijack.


Mend-E is the bog-standard robot. It’s the one you start as, but rarely see outside the starting area. Being a melee bot, it’s hard to hit other robots without getting hit yourself, especially if they are also melee.


Harv-E wields a scythe and swings it around in a counter-clockwise motion. It has a longer range than other melee attacks, but you need to be careful to manage your distance between you and the enemy as it swings.


This is I think the most powerful robot. The Herb-E speeds by and drops bombs that detonate after a few seconds. Though it can only drop one at a time and it’s a bit hard to hit an enemy without being hit, you can just speed by and ignore all enemies. You don’t need to kill anyone to beat the game, so it’s a viable trick.


This one is quite fun to use. It’s a charging laser that shoots in a straight line and does 2 hits worth of damage when it connects. Careful not to overkill your enemies if you’re planning on hijacking them.


A large artillery robot that shoots bombs that explode after a few seconds. Very hard to hit enemies, particularly melee enemies but very beefy.


Grease-E is the second robot you encounter. These ones move slower than a Mend-E, but have a ranged attack that allows you to damage enemies while moving away from them.


I didn’t manage to capture this one so I don’t know exactly what it’s called, but it kinda reminds me of the Grinder from Red Alert 3, so we’ll go with this name. It waits until you get near and then it charges at you at high speed until it hits you or a wall. And then it tries again and again. Kinda hard to kill with melee, but you can cheese it by attacking around a corner.


Gas-E is very similar to the Grease-E except that instead of aiming and shooting one bullet at a time, you shoot four bullets in all cardinal directions every time.


Quite similar to the Mend-E. It’s a box with a spike that protrudes outwards at melee range. Not very useful when controlled by a player, but quite annoying when you have three of these on your tail.


This doesn’t really count as a robot, it’s just the end point of the game. All you need to do is hijack it and win! It’s just a big box in the middle of the room and there aren’t any other robots defending it so it should be easy.

‘Control’ theme

They were originally going to make this a game similar to Binding of Isaac. Instead went to more of a Mario Odyssey capture mechanic where you get to take over and control enemies but still keep that top-down perspective.

Though to me, the game felt like the Berserk arcade game with all the robots, mazes and shooting around corners. It also reminded me of Space Station Silicon Valley with the player taking over various creatures.


Power Struggle was made by The Shaders, which consists of:

  • Wiseguy – Programming
  • SausageSage – Level design and enemy concepts
  • InTheBeef

Music and sound effects came from 3rd party libraries.

Review and conclusion

In my first blind play I didn’t realise that you could capture enemies so I tried to make do with the Mend-E, arguably the worst bot in the game and without healing. Comes to show that you should always read the instructions when they appear on screen.

I really liked Power Struggle! IT has a fairly original concept without being too complicated to understand. There is also a great balance of risk/reward where you can gain health but be forced to switch to a bot you don’t like. Also when trying to capture a melee bot, there’s a high risk you’ll take more damage trying to capture it than you would from the actual transfer.

The game is a little buggy, there’s an end-of-level glitch that causes the game to crash upon completing a level or dying. A soft reset doesn’t fix it, you need to do a full on/off cycle to overcome it. Luckily, the game includes a level select so you can just skip to where you left off.

While the robots do give you a fun selection of attacks to try out (kind of like a Kirby game), something that I feel would have made this game better would be different ways to interact with the environment. So far, the only thing you can really do is collect keycards and open doors with them, but it would have been great if there were, for instance, some areas that are only accessible with certain robots. Or maybe some door requirements that weren’t just keycards (eg clearing a room of enemies).

Though I understand that this is a Game Jam and the games are pretty much going to be made under time constraints, it would be nice for a Power Struggle sequel or level pack.

That said, it’s just a nitpick. This is a nice fun game that has a great concept, learning curve, design (those robots are adorable) and manages to explore its possibilities very well.

Articles across the web

Power Struggle is a N64 homebrew game by The Shaders where you control a robot that hijacks other robots to progress in each level.
Article published on N64 Squid


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