Monday, July 5, 2010
Retro Monday - Megamania
100th blog post! Truth be told, I'm surprised I made it this far, so I'm kind of happy about this. But I won't let my joy spoil the mood, so let's get back to the things that matter: vidya games. This week's Retro Monday takes a look at the first system I remember playing, the Atari 2600, and one of the better games I remember from it, Megamania.
Megamania is a Galaga-style shooter where your little ship at the bottom moves left and right while shooting straight up at enemies who shoot back, drop on you, or both. Instead of your normal enemies of aliens, however, you're stuck in the middle of a nightmare and you're shooting things that straddle line between weird and what the crap on the spectrum of video game enemies. So, instead of UFOs and the like, you're shooting, um, hamburgers and cookies and irons and bow ties and diamonds and what is this I don't even. I even remember knowing this back when I was four or five and not coming close to batting an eye about it. Seriously, who came up with that idea? (That's rhetorical, so don't any of you tell me Steve Cartwright.)
Instead of going purely off nostalgia like I normally do, I actually went on Microsoft's Game Room and spent the 240 MSP on Megamania. To be honest, I'm surprised how much fun I had with the game after not playing it for nearly a quarter of a century. Sure, it looks like crap, has no title screen, involves those ridiculous Atari 2600 "Game Select/Game Reset" switches, will glitch up and stop once you get to 999,999, and involves the most unexciting enemy design (HAMBURGERS!) known to gaming since Plaque Attack and Lost Luggage, but with all that said I still had a blast and kept going for one more game. The enemy patterns change once you get through each different enemy, which makes continued play not only difficult but interesting. For example, the burgers just go from left to right the first time at a steady pace until you shoot them all. Next time, they go, then stop, then zoom across the screen like fast food (GET IT?!?), then go slow, rinse, repeat. The, uh, tires or whatever they are have a vertical pattern of drop, stop, go side to side, then repeat, but second time through they just keep falling diagonally one way and then the other. Like I said, it's a lot more interesting than the usual dose of watching them just get faster and shoot more bullets. Speaking of the difficulty, even after all the years playing Galaga and the like, Megamania still feels like a hard game.
Megamania's downfall with being played today on the 360 is that most would rather just download an indie title for a third of the price and probably get a better game out of it. And with most games on Game Room I'm definitely in that group. Nostalgia won this round against me, though, and surprisingly kept me entertained. I doubt that a lot of people will share this much enjoyment outside of the older generation like me that do remember fondly the days with the 2600, but I really do think the game is worth at least a look if you bothered to download Game Room onto your 360. It's in Game Pack 003 if you're curious about it.