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The Story Behind PO’ed, 2024’s Weirdest Remaster

An obscure, mostly forgotten 3DO FPS got a second chance due to a birthday wish

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An image shows the main character of PO'ed.
Image: Nightdive Studios

In 2024, I doubt most people have played or even heard of PO’ed, a’90s first-person shooter featuring strange aliens, bizarre weapons (like a frying pan), and hard-to-navigate levels. The odd Doom-like shooter was released first on 3DO in 1995 and later ported to the original PlayStation in 1996. And since then, beyond a few diehard fans who remember PO’ed, the world had mostly forgotten the strange FPS.

That changed in April, when video game remasters and porting experts Nightdive—the studio behind the recent Dark Forces remaster and System Shock—announced plans to update PO’ed and bring it to modern consoles via the studio’s proprietary KEX engine. When I first saw this news, appropriately announced on April 1, I had one question: Why? So, I talked to the folks behind the PO’ed remaster to find out. And it turns out you can blame it all on a birthday wish.


“The inspiration for the game came from Sam “Kaiser” Villarreal, our lead KEX developer,” said Larry Kuperman, Nightdive’s director of business development. “Sam played the game when it originally came out and it had (and still has) a special place in his heart.”

Nightdive / Gametrailers

According to Kuperman, Villarreal’s birthday was coming up, and Nightdive CEO and studio head Stephen Kick asked what gift he wanted for his b-day. “He wanted to remaster PO’ed. And here we are,” explained Kuperman.


So Kick began looking into whether it would even be possible to track down the original developers and owners of PO’ed to make a remaster happen.

“After tracking down the original developers we put a deal in place to make it happen,” said Kick. “They were absolutely thrilled to hear that PO’ed would be getting the Nightdive treatment.”


Porting PO’ed to Switch was pretty painless

Weirdly, according to the folks at Nightdive, PO’ed was one of the easiest games to port and remaster thanks to the fact that the its source code was still held by the original developers.


“After the team evaluated it, we found it to be one of the cleanest code bases we had ever seen,” said Kick. “I believe we had a Switch port of the original game running in the first two weeks of development.”

While working with the original PO’ed source code, the team did discover some new information about the obscure shooter that nobody outside the original development team likely knew about.


“The development team discovered some interesting things in the code,” said Kick. “There were a few undocumented cheats as well as references to an unused enemy that didn’t make it into the final game. The monster was called ‘ET’ and the two undocumented cheats gave you full ammo and health upgrades.”

As for why the cheats were never documented online before the team began digging into the code: “[The cheats] require you to aim at a certain pitch, which is impossible to do, even on the PlayStation,” explained Kick.


Even games like PO’ed deserve to be preserved

After playing the remastered PO’ed on PC recently, I was both impressed by how well it was ported to computers and also surprised at how faithful it was to the (not-so-great) original. According to Kuperman, the team didn’t sit down with plans to “fix” or improve PO’ed.


“Whenever we remaster a game, there is always a bit of a balancing act between improvement and remaining faithful to the original. In the case of PO’ed, we wanted to maintain the original experience,” said Kuperman.

A screenshot of PO'ed.
Screenshot: Nightdive Studios

Kuperman and the Nightdive team believe preserving video games is important. Even a game like PO’ed, which might not be as famous as Super Mario 64 or as well-made as Halo 3.

“When we think about games and their importance, I try to apply the same standards as I do with music. Was it good? Was it influential? Those are two different things,” said Kuperman.


“Brian Eno said of the Velvet Underground: ‘The first album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band’ and I think that there is something similar with games. There are games that didn’t sell well, but changed everything. We have and will continue to remaster those.”

PO’ed is out now on Xbox, Playstation, Switch, and PC. You can buy it and other Nightdive remastered shooters via the studio’s Humble Bundle collection.