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5  |  Pretty Tacky, All Right...
Darryl B. , 10/14/2009 12:17:23 AM

Megatack screenshot - fatmanmegatack.jpg

(Note: no, this game isn't 'tacky', as in it pushed the boundaries of nudity or taste by having disgusting, questionable violence in it or something, I'm just making fun of it's name.)

Oh, this game; ick.

Megatack (whatever that's supposed to mean) seemed to be part of a series of three similar games; I don't recall what the second one is, but it's crowning achievement was Challenger.  After all, all of them were made by GamePlan and liscensed to Centuri (again, if memory serves correctly, as I don't recall the other game), had similiar sounds, gameplay, title and even high score screens.

In this particularly blah installment, though, the player controls an ugly spaceship at the bottom of the screen shooting up at colorful enemies that slowly descend downward while dropping a lot of bombs in the process ("megabombs"? Hey, that fits with the lack of success with this game!).  The player's cannon can shoot in three directions; start firing quickly, and it alternates between shooting left (at an angle), straight up, and right.

Make it through a screen of this and the next wave consists of rings that, when shot, will turn into smaller ones; have one grow to full size before destroying it, it'll suck your ship into it and you'll lose a life (just like how it'll suck your sanity away if you play too many games of this).  And that's the whole game, pretty much.

Unfortunately the game isn't very fun or engaging; part of the problem is the screwy way your ship shoots -- the alternating shots -- as it's awkward.  The game also doesn't get progressively harder that I could tell; you're eventually going to lose all of your ships by the massive amounts of bombs that are dropped by the enemies, and that's about it, it doesn't seem to speed up or anything.

The game pretty much fails on every level possible since, even though this was fairly novel back then to have two different waves in one game, Galaxian (released the same year) and Astro Fighter (released earlier) were way better than this, even though Galaxian's gameplay was simpler, but Astro Fighter had several different waves of enemies, all of which behaved differently.  So Megatack was still beaten to the punch because of that.

Like I said, Challenger raised the bar big time, as it first fixed the shooting problem, having your ship fire in all three directions at once.  The aforementioned rings were made the prominent enemy, making it into a cross between Space Invaders (bottom of the screen shooter, and a way better one) and Asteroids (the rings breaking into smaller ones).  Players were also given an added warp feature to warp their ship to the top or bottom of the screen, a Super Bomb that would affect everything during a wave, and a blue ship that would come out and give the chance for a player to earn bonus points by docking with it...a way better game than Megatack.  I think in the other game that I mentioned earlier that I can't recall it's name, it implemented different characteristics in the enemies' behavior, but that didn't help much.

And don't forget that the graphics weren't very good (even for back then, and I'm still trying to figure out what the heck those later enemies are that look like a cross between a red T. I. E. Fighter from Star Wars, but with a demon face; wtf?), the sounds cheesy, and the controls...well, I can't recall how they were though -- it's been over 20 years since I played this at the one game room I ever saw it at back during the day -- but even if they were good (I think they were), it still didn't save this game any at all (Astro Fighter's controls were known to being poor, but that was still a way better game, ironically!).

Since it was rare even during the day, chances are monstrously low you'll ever find this anywhere (which you should be grateful), other than at a gaming expo or museum.  If you do, don't pay any money to play it (most games at these types of shows are set on free play anyway), then unplug it after you're done (like it's out of order) to spare anyone else from wasting their time with it.

And go find a Challenger machine instead.  (Did I mention that one was way better than this tripe?) Even the name doesn't make much sense: if it doesn't mean "mega attack", then I don't get it.

But neither did GamePlan, in regards to figuring out why it took them three tries before they could make a decent game out of this simple concept. 5/10


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