Cover image for Nintendo.

P.O.W. -Prisoners of War- (脱獄, Dasugoku which means "Prison break") is a 1988 beat 'em up game by SNK. The arcade version of the game is for two players. However in the version ported to the NES, it is just a one-player game.


The main character in single player is a captured P.O.W. commando codenamed Snake (Bart in the NES version) who must bomb his way out of a P.O.W. prison cell and escape. They must escape through four levels of gameplay where the mission is not only to escape, but to infiltrate the enemy base and destroy their leaders. There are brass-knuckles, body armor, knives, grenades, and machine guns that the players can use in order to aid them in their mission.

There are four levels of gameplay:

  • First Mission: Escape from Prison Camp
  • Second Mission: Attacking the Industrial Area
  • Third Mission: Guerilla Attack in the Jungle
  • Fourth Mission(Final Mission): Destruction of Communications Headquarters


P.O.W. is a side-scrolling, beat 'em up game, which were typical during the time that it was created. The game play is simple. For the NES version of the game, the crosspad maneuvers the character in all directions. The 'A' button kicks and if equipped with a weapon it will utilize the weapon. The 'B' button is used for punching and if equipped with a rifle, the player can strike opponents. When both buttons are pressed simultaneously, the player unleashes a powerful flying kick. The usefulness of the punch in the arcade version has been called into question, since it drives the enemy soldier backward, possibly giving him a chance to get away and then return to the fight. In the attract mode in the arcade version, a machine gun becomes available to Snake much earlier than in actual gameplay, a fact that some might say smacks of false advertising.

There seems to be consensus that the video game music on the third stage of the arcade version is rather compelling and suitable to the action.


The arcade version has an unfortunate glitch in the fourth level (at the point at which the player is facing the boss of that level) in which an enemy soldier will roll indefinitely and cannot be killed, thus making it impossible to progress further. This only happens sometimes.

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