Mag Max (Imagine) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

Mag Max
By Imagine
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #23

Mag Max

Great games come in many forms. Although I've criticised shoot-'em-ups in the past as repetitive and predictable, when they're done well they are wildly addictive. Classy shoot-'em-ups have more action than a singles' bar and this one guarantees you a severe case of Knackerus Fingeroid Firitis.

All this will be music to the ears of anyone who's been waiting for the game. It has taken quite a while to convert. I can't attest to its authenticity in terms of the arcade version, but I can tell you it's a great game. The scenario, thankfully short, tells you the human race has met its ultimate end, leaving just a robot to battle the alien invaders.

The robot is in pieces: one of them is under your control; the others you have to find. You have to progress through scrolling levels of mayhem, both above and below ground, against an ever increasing number of aliens.

The game is split into levels, each one having both above- and below-ground sections. You can get between them using craters, so that you can travel through whichever one you find easier to deal with. In both cases the screen scrolls from right to left, but the perspectives are different.

Above ground you have a 3D view with the ship skimming over the surface. In the caverns, this switches to a 2D view. In both instances, the ship can move freely about the screen, but can't stop the steady scrolling that reveals the enemy forces.

As you make your way across the screens, you can find the bits of the robot which will give him additional firepower and a new weapon. However, hanging on to these for long can be a problem. The first add-on module looks like a teddy bear and provides the upper half of the body. When the legs are added, it gives you a wider field of fire but also a bigger target for the aliens. A lance can also be added to the body section to destroy otherwise indestructible objects.

The surface aliens come in all sorts of shapes and behaviour patterns. Some are static and blast away at you; others dodge around trying to zap you. Different types of each are revealed as you get further through the game. If you run into them or their bullets you will lose a piece of the robot. When there are no pieces to lose, a life will go down the swannee.

Underground the aliens all fly and move in patterns. Like the surface ones they tend to come in waves. All the bullets are aimed at your current location when fired, so you have to be constantly on the move around screen to avoid their deadly accuracy. Your own firepower also needs to be accurately directed. You can only shoot straight out from the ship to the right of the screen.

At the end of the level you are supposed to run into a dragon that has to be shot bit by bit. But I didn't notice one just more and more waves of aliens. The background graphics change between levels, and of course the aliens get meaner and more plentiful.

What with constant moving, no auto-repeat on the Fire button, hordes of the enemy and needing a high degree of accuracy, this is a testing shoot-'em-up indeed. Fortunately the aliens do appear in the same formations every game so that you can learn the patterns and progress further. There are also regular "restart" spots where you will begin after losing a life.

The graphics are detailed, colourful and varied. Combined with a reasonably smooth, slow scroll, it makes an excellent game to look at. The gameplay is demanding but very addictive. The crucial aspect is that of variety: there are so many different aliens and attack patterns, a 3D and 2D view, weapons and parts to collect, different levels to move on to.

This is the sort of game that rewards hard work. The longer you play it the better you'll get. You'll certainly come away with a much fitter fire finger and a throbbing hand, a sure sign of a good shoot-'em-up. It will take you to your gameplaying limit and still keep you hooked.

Second Opinion

This game is enjoyable, highly playable and guaranteed to give you a sore finger or two at the end of the day. It's good to see some effort being put into a shoot-em-up - Imagine deserves a pat on the back. Fast, colourful and addictive as all shoot-em-ups should be.

Green Screen View

There's no escaping them in green.

First Day Target Score



Graphics 83%
P. Reasonably smooth, slow scrolling.
P. Lots of different, colourful alien sprites.

Sonics 42%
N. Title tune plays only once.
N. Just zapping effects in the game.

Grab Factor 90%
P. Instantly tough and addictive
P. Can make progress as you learn the attack patterns.

Staying Power 89%
P. Lots of variety in the aliens and stages keeps things interesting.
N. Guaranteed to wreck your hand.

Overall 89%
P. Shoot-'em-up fans looking for a challenge will love this one.

Bob Wade

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