"Welcome to POWDER!
Your goal is simple: dive to Level 25 of the dungeon to reach Baezl'bub, slay him, and return to the surface with his black heart. Plenty of nasty monsters stand in your way, however. Fortunately, the dungeon is littered with useful equipment.
Check for updates at www.zincland.com/powder"
POWDER is a roguelike, a video game based on the tradition of such fine games as Angband and Nethack.
Of all other roguelikes, POWDER most strongly resembles Nethack. Levels are fairly small, usually containing less than a dozen rooms. Once randomly generated, levels are static, unlike in Angband variants where if you leave a level, it will be completely different should you return. Item generation isn't based on level, so a lucky player has an equal chance of finding that artifact longsword or amulet of lifesaving on level one as on level twenty. Identifying items does not come cheap, and the player is usually forced to just try them out and hope for the best.
Despite the many ways it resembles its predecessors, POWDER has many distinguishing features of interest. Most notably, Powder did not start its life as a computer game. POWDER was born as a homebrew game for the Gameboy Advance. Its creator, Jeff Lait, grew tired of the slow, cut scene-filled RPGs available for the platform, and chose to create his own, without reusing code from any other Roguelike. To accommodate its birth platform, POWDER distills the concept of a roguelike to its basics. Controls are much less complex than most roguelikes. Common commands like using spells or checking the map are all assigned a button, and most commands involving items appear in a pop-up menu when you select an item in your inventory. The number of items and monsters, though still very diverse, is significantly reduced compared to most modern roguelikes.
Most importantly, the length of the games is reduced drastically. Most games last only a matter of minutes, and a winning game only takes about three hours. This change is what makes POWDER truly interesting. In nearly all roguelikes, POWDER included, beginning characters are near-useless and easily killed. This is the most boring part of the game, and getting past it is a significant challenge. Passing this stage is no less difficult in POWDER, but it can be done much quicker, usually within the first twenty minutes. Quicker gameplay also makes it much less painful to lose a successful character. When your mighty battle-mage falls in a spiked pit and dies, at least you've only been playing him for a few hours, rather than the weeks that can be spent on a single game of Nethack.
The other really notable feature of this game is the unique class system. Each class is linked with one of seven gods. Rather than being forced to stick with one class, each time you level up you choose a god from the list of gods that don't hate you at the moment. Your chosen god will give you skill, health and mana bonuses appropriate to your class whenever you level up. Following the values of each god will gain you their favor, and disregarding them will gain you their hate. For example, casting a healing spell will gain you favor with Pax, god of clerics, and he may choose to do you some benefit, such as removing curses from your equipment. On the other hand, that same healing spell will anger Tlosh, god of necromancers, and H'ruth, god of barbarians, possibly leading them to polymorph you into a mouse, or to scourge you with fire. Cautious players can follow no gods, and be spared of both the positive and negative influences of deities. On the other hand, you can take the risks of following XOM, who has the potential to give far greater rewards on level-up, but frequently changes his mind about what he wants you to do.
Despite (or perhaps because of) it's relative youth and simplicity, POWDER retains all the addictive fun of the best roguelikes. POWDER serves as a terrific introduction to the genre, while still providing a challenge to veterans of Nethack and ADOM. POWDER is available for free on a vast array of platforms, including GBA, Nintendo DS, most major desktop operating systems, iPhone, and GP2X.