PacMan – the Power-up originator!

Power-ups are a real favourite of gamers! They can provide all sorts of advantages during a game such as extra lives, increased strength, or special abilities. Whatever these advantages are, they all serve the purpose of mixing up the game and enhancing gameplay.

Everyone who’s played games will have their favourite power-up, but here is a selection of some of the most iconic.

The Blue Shell

The blue shell is the most frustrating of all of the shell power-ups in “Mario Kart“. Whilst all shells serve the purpose of taking out, and therefore hindering the performance of a competitor, the blue shell is particularly infuriating (if you’re the victim). Usually given to someone near the back of the pack during a race, the blue shell will swiftly make its way to the front, specifically targeting the race leader, causing them to spin out and crash. This serves the purpose of mixing up the racing, particularly if the leader has managed to hold 1st position for a while.

The slightly less discriminate red and green shells have similar functions, however the green requires a lot more skill (or luck) to successfully disable another racer, since it only travels in a straight line. The red shell sits in between, behaving like a heat seeking missile, it will follow and attack the kart in front. Both red and green shells can be defended against with banana peels, but there is no defence against the cruel punishment of the blue shell.

Pac-Man Energizers

From way back in 1980 and credited as the first video game power-up, energizers (also known as Power Pellets) helped “Pac-Man” turn the tables on his ghost enemies. In normal circumstances, the ghosts chase Pac-Man around the maze, trying to catch and eat our circular, yellow hero. Yet, once Pac-Man got his hands (if he has hands) on an Energizer, the ghosts turned blue and began moving much more slowly. During this time, Pac-Man was able to eat his adversaries, scoring extra points in the process.


Not strictly attributed to a single game, the heart is likely one of the most common power-ups in the gaming world. Games such as “Grand Theft Auto“, “Legend Of Zelda“, “Mario Bros.“, “Minecraft” and “Jurassic Park” all feature a heart power-up, which is typically used to restore the number of lives a character has, or increase the or restore their health capacity.



In real life, we’re told not to eat wild mushrooms, especially if they’re bright red and have white spots. Yet in the fantasy world of Mario, mushrooms are your friend and should be eaten at every opportunity. Since its debut in 1985, the mushroom helped Mario grow to twice his size, and become “Super Mario”.

Throughout the franchise, the use of the mushroom has varied. In “Mario Kart“, the Mushroom is a power-up similar to the shells that provides advantages in the race, in this case providing speed boosts and the ability to drive off track without slowing down. Mushrooms have provided many other features, such as providing Health Points (HP), poisoning enemies and getting some extra dice rolls in “Mario Party“.

A new format for Power-ups

Although they started in retro gaming, power-ups have grown in popularity across all gaming industries, including the relatively new iGaming sector. The popularity comes from the enhanced experience that Power-ups provide, bringing new dimensions to traditional games such as bingo and poker. Power-ups in iGaming can be used to bring in additional variables that make it more social and fun. For example, Power Up Poker is a modern twist on Texas Hold’em, with power-ups that allow you to view the next cards in the deck, or force opponents to reveal one of theirs. This provides opportunities for new tactics that would not be available under the traditional rules.

Whatever your favourite power-up, it’s clear that they are a quintessential part of gaming. Whether you are a fan of modern or retro video games, you will have certainly come across many, and they’ll likely have changed the outcome of your game, for better or for worse.

Michael Williams