Monday, 4 March 2013


"Power-up" and "1-up" are examples of a common form of wasei-eigo, in which the word "up" is prefixed by some desirable quality. The general meaning of X-up in Japanese is "this will increase your X" and this construction is regularly used in areas such as advertising. This is similar to another phrase, X get, as seen in Super Mario Sunshine's Japanese version's "Shine Get!" phrase. Pac-Man is credited as the first video game to feature a power-up mechanic. 

The effect of the power-up was illustrated by one of the first cut scenes to appear in a video game, in the form of brief comical interludes about Pac-Man and the ghosts chasing each other around. The power pellet entered popular culture with a joke on the controversy regarding the influence of video games on children. In 1984, Sabre Wulf introduced power ups which provided effects such as speed up and invincibility. In 1985 Super Mario Bros. introduced the Super Mushroom, which has entered popular culture described as "the quintessential power-up". 

The original game idea was to have an always big Mario as a technical advance, but later the power-up was introduced to make him "super" as a bonus effect. The development team thought it would be interesting to have Mario grow and shrink by eating a magic mushroom, just like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Konami's 1985 game Gradius had the first use of a selection bar where the player could select which power-up effect to trigger, instead of having a fixed instant effect. In 1986 and the years after, the concept of permanent power-ups appeared in the action role-playing genre in the form of perks.