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What is the difference between the notions of "bonus" and "power-up?"

I have in-game some objects and the player has the ability to pick up some bonuses/power-ups that allow the player to create an explosion all around. There's also an item that lets the player teleport from one place to another -- are these all power-ups?

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A bonus signifies permanent change (increased abilities while wearing an item) a power up is temporary (increased abilities for a limited amount of time). Also bonuses are usually awarded while power ups are collected. – Benjamin Danger Johnson Sep 13 '13 at 21:59

"Bonus" is usually used to describe something that effects the score or the outcome of the game (such as a score multiplier). "Power-ups" generally refer to things that give the game extra abilities/mechanics like increased speed or power. However, whoever you are talking to will probably understand what you mean no matter which word you use.

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Personnaly, I'd see :

  • a "power-up" as something that makes you more "potent"
  • a "bonus" as a reward
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+1 Ah, "potent". What a great word. – Arcane Engineer Aug 3 '11 at 21:54

Genrally (and perhaps not only in games)...

IMHO there is no bonus in what you describe, but only the pickup that lets the player explode all around (as a powerup), where the teleport is simply a trigger.

E.g. in Super Mario you have the coins which are simply pickups and you have the mushrooms that actually give you an extra ability making the mushroom a powerup. In some games you gain an extra bonus if you complete a level if you completed the level within a given time.

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+1 I quite like this distinction. – Arcane Engineer Feb 2 '12 at 20:12

From my point of view,

  • "power-ups" are items/abilities that can be gathered while playing (like a super temporary shield) to help,
  • whereas "bonus" is something given because you were good enough to deserve it (like a bonus stage).

But power-ups are often called bonus and vice-versa.

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  • "power-ups" as the word suggests "pulls-up" your current "powers" ingame. Thus the effect is temporary and your powers will return to their previous default value when the power-up expired.

  • A "bonus" is an addition to the things you own ingame (score, collection, powers) but it is has no time-out. (example : have a defensive bonus on a shield. the bonus won't go away unless i decide to swap it for some other bonus / if the bonus can expire after some time it's a power-up ;-) )

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bonuses give you extra points/currency

power-ups give you extra abilities which you can use to earn points/currency more efficiently

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