MegaBlast Review—Not Quite Like a Megaforce
I love old arcade shooters, having grown up in the heyday of the arcades. I don’t really like modern shooters, or shmups, as they are called. So whenever a new shooter comes out that is retro themed, I am interested, but somewhat skeptical. It’s very hard to mix new and old well. MegaBlast from Super Icon attempts to do this, and while they produced a competent game, it’s lacking something.
MegaBlast is a wave-based shooter, rather than a scrolling shooter. You control a ship down at the bottom of the screen (at least initially) and are confronted with a formation of enemies. You kill them all, then move onto the next formation. But rather than the enemies flying in, as in Galaga or Gyruss or the like, they just appear there after you have dealt with an upgrade screen.
Yes, in between every level you have the opportunity to upgrade your ship. There are four different things to improve, different aspects of your ship’s gun and movement. The effects are very slight, and you must upgrade gradually, so it’s really overshadowed by the pick-ups you can acquire during a wave. So personally, I found it more of a nuisance than anything else. In a nice touch, you can downgrade your ship, getting points for the useless things and spend them on the more expensive things. Which also aren’t noticeable, but still….
But what is really different in MegaBlast is that your ship doesn’t just stay at the bottom of the screen. In order to pick up the things dropped by enemies you kill, you have to move upwards on the screen. You can either do this by applying just a little bit of thrust (you drop back once you release the thrust button) or by jumping to the top of the screen using the shoulder buttons. This also comes in handy when fighting some of the bosses.
Boss fights seem to come every 10 stages, as does a color change of the palette. MegaBlast looks very nice on the Vita screen, and everything is well animated and runs smoothly with no slowdown. Enemies are somewhat bland-looking, though, just basic shapes. Jasper recently teased me for glossing over the soundtracks in games, but in this case there doesn’t seem to be anything to gloss over. (As a substitute, you can listen to the Megaforce soundtrack)
Four or five years ago, Taito released an updated version of Space Invaders, called “Space Invaders Extreme.” The original Space Invaders was a big hit, but actually kind of slow-moving, especially the arcade version (the 2600 version played much better). But Space Invaders Extreme really updated the pace of the game, along with the presentation. More than anything, MegaBlast reminds me of Space Invaders Extreme…except they didn’t update the pace.
The game just sort of plods along. Your ship moves slowly, you shoot slowly, and while levels are over fairly quickly, it’s mostly because there aren’t many enemies on the screen to begin with, and you constantly have to deal with upgrading your ship. There’s no way to skip levels, and the game really doesn’t get interesting or challenging until about Wave 9. So basically, you’re putting in close to ten minutes of busy work before the real fun starts. And when you finally feel like you are getting some action, the level is over and it’s time to upgrade yet again. Having it every five waves would have been better, or at least every other.
MegaBlast is a decent shooter, slickly and professionally done and original to the PS Mobile platform, but its pacing sucks out much of the fun, which ultimately is the most important part of a game.