P.O.W.: Prisoners of War Cheats & Cheat Codes

Enemies in P.O.W.: Prisoner of War.

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War Cheats & Cheat Codes

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War is a classic beat ’em up game developed by SNK. The game was initially released for arcade machines in 1988 and one year later found its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Since the NES version, it was also ported to other platforms, including PC. The game invites players into the world of military escape and combat, as the name suggests. It features a storyline where the protagonist, a prisoner of war, embarks on a daring escape from captivity. Players navigate through various levels, battling enemy soldiers and overcoming obstacles to achieve freedom and disrupt enemy operations. Let’s dive a little deeper into what makes P.O.W.: Prisoners of War tick and what cheats players can expect from the game.

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War Premise

The game sets the player in the shoes of a captured commando known as Snake in the arcade version and Bart in the NES version. He is determined to break free from a P.O.W. prison he’s held in. The journey to freedom is fraught with danger as it encompasses a series of missions across different terrains, including escaping from a prison camp, going through an industrial area, and surviving an attack in the jungle. Lastly, the player needs to destroy the enemy’s communications headquarters and defeat the Commando, before escaping on a helicopter. Throughout these missions, players can utilize a range of weapons and close combat attacks, from brass knuckles and knives to grenades and machine guns. The protagonist has to defeat enemies to progress further through the levels.

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War features classic side-scrolling gameplay, similar to many other SNK arcade games, and the support for two players simultaneously in the arcade version. However, the NES adaptation is single-player only. The game’s arcade mechanics involve moving with an eight-way joystick and using three action buttons for performing various attacks, including special moves like jump kicks and back punches. The NES version has certain modifications to the control scheme and adds new elements such as hand grenades for boss encounters, new enemy types, and power-ups to enhance the player’s abilities.

Two players in P.O.W.: Prisoner of War.
The arcade version of the game allows two players simultaneously.

©Screenshot for P.O.W.: Prisoner of War – Original

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War Characters

In P.O.W.: Prisoners of War, the main character is central to the game’s narrative. Snake, or Bart on NES, is the protagonist who aims to escape the P.O.W. prison. This Vietnam-inspired storyline features various obstacles in the way of the protagonist. Most importantly, after a slew of regular henchmen, the protagonist has to defeat level bosses. As usual for beat ’em up games, these bosses require distinct tactics and quick thinking.

  • Snake/Bart: The protagonist, a prisoner of war, who undertakes a daring escape. He is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and can use weapons dropped by enemies. His doppelganger Bart appears as the second character in the arcade version with different colored attire.
  • Helicopter: The first major obstacle in your escape, this boss requires grenades to defeat. Focus on eliminating non-knife-wielding enemies to collect grenades, then use them against the helicopter for an easy victory.
  • Shot Gunner: Armed with a shotgun, this stage 2 boss is a bit more of a challenge. To defeat him, dodge his shotgun blasts and grenades. Engage in close combat using punches and kicks, with brass knuckles adding your punching power.
  • Fat Man: This stage 3 boss can be taken down with punches and jump kicks. Dodge his attacks and maintain a steady assault to overcome him fairly easily.
  • Pistol Carrier: The stage 4 boss is another enemy that can be beaten with simple punches and kicks. Just remember to avoid his pistol-whip attacks. Attacking constantly and in fast succession should lead to an easy win.
  • Tank: The penultimate boss, similar to the helicopter. Defeating the tank requires grenades. Target unarmed enemies to gather grenades, then use them to destroy the tank.
  • Commando: The final and most challenging boss, the Commando, demands a strategy of evasion and attack. Dodge his jumps, then counter with kicks. Maintain distance and attack strategically to secure victory.
Helicopter in P.O.W.: Prisoner of War.
The game has unique boss fights and action sequences, like soldiers dropping from a helicopter.

©Screenshot for P.O.W.: Prisoner of War – Original

Games in the Series

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War is definitely a memorable entry in the beat ’em up genre. It features an intriguing escape narrative and combat allowing both shooting and close combat. While the game is known for its addictive gameplay and iconic boss fights, it didn’t develop into a full-fledged game series. The original P.O.W.: Prisoners of War remains the only title in the franchise. However, SNK went on to develop many more games in the genre.

  • P.O.W.: Prisoners of War (1988)

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War Cheats

The game doesn’t have expansive options for cheaters, but the developers did include one cheat. Players can perform a button combination to unlock more lives in the game. Also, those who have access to Game Genie can enjoy many more cheats, which we’ve also listed below. 

Start With 21 Lives

Players can enable a cheat that changes the protagonist’s lives to 21 for the playthrough. This is accessed by pressing A, B, B, Up, Up, Down, Left, Start on the title screen.

Game Genie Codes

AENSLPPAInfinite lives
STOLOUONTake less damage when hit from behind
AAVGOTPAInfinite bullets
APKGPLAZ + APESYZAZPlay with less energy


Can I play P.O.W.: Prisoners of War in two-player mode on the NES?

The NES version of P.O.W.: Prisoners of War is designed for single-player gameplay, unlike its arcade counterpart which supports two players simultaneously.

How do I perform special attacks in P.O.W.: Prisoners of War?

To execute special attacks, press two buttons simultaneously. For example, perform a jump kick by jumping and then kicking, or a back punch by jumping and punching at the same time.

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