Mega Apocalypse (Martech) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Mega Apocalypse
By Martech
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #48

Mega Apocalypse

A whizz of fast load makes my disk drive whirr as I sip my coffee and wonder if Mega Apocalypse is going to be as mega as the mutterings on the grapevine suggest.

I nearly fall off my seat when a title screen comes up for all the world like Crazy Comets and a most Paperboy-like voice shouts "get ready".

I'm ready and start to blast away at the aliens that buzz my spearhead ship quicker than Mike Pattenden can say "mine's a pint" where he spots a fellow reviewer at the bar in the City Pride.

The very obvious and immediate similarities to Crazy Comets (just out as a cheapo on the Ricochet label) soon fades as "Game Over" flashes on the screen seconds after I start - and before even reaching stage two.

When I say fast, I mean like lightning. The nasties home in on your ship in clusters as a background of swirling stars gives you the impression you are about to be sucked into a vast lunar whirlpool.

There are going to be mixed opinions about Mega Apocalypse - principally because it appears like just an upgraded Crazy Comets. So much so that one CU reviewer who shall remain nameless commented: "I've heard of companies ripping off other companies' games before but I've never heard of them ripping off their own" when he first saw the game.

I decided to put this gripe to the test right away, and loaded Crazy Comets on a computer beside Mega Apocalypse. Believe me, the similarities don't just end with the title screen, but Mega Apocalypse is at least ten times quicker, looks better, sounds better and is much harder to play.

The toughess is mainly due to the rotate function - a facility you will be initially loath to use because of its complexity but it is absolutely essential that you do if you are to master this blaster. Basically, picking up a 'Rotate Pod' enables you to turn your ship through 360 degrees by pressing fire and pushing the joystick in the direction in which you want the ship to face. Sounds easy, I know, but once you start dodging the aliens and rotating at the same time it is anything but.

Spotting the Rotate Pod among the cluster of nasties also takes a bit of learning - as does identifying the Extra Life Ship and Special Missile Ship.

These facilities aside, the rest is simply. Blast like mad and keep moving. The rest is down to speed of reactions - blasting and dodging at the same time, not separately. The only tip worth mentioning is to shoot the planets before they grow too large.

The Special Missiles are the key to blasting the big planets - or Mega Hothopians to give them their official titles. Once you pick up the missile it hovers in front of your ship - like the out-riding ships in Salamander. Wait for the right moment then lock it on to the planet and watch that missile eliminate that planet.

The game is crammed with play options. My favourite is the Duel Enemy option where you both take on the nasties. Sure, you team up to blast them but you are not that bothered if your 'partner' gets downed by the nasties either.

Duel Allies is where you genuinely team up to take on the Mega Apocalypse assortment of vicious planets.

You can also play solo which is just as much fun - and every bit as challenging.

The mutterings about Mega Apocalypse that I mentioned earlier were full of buzz words like "five channel sound", "digitised speech" and Rob Hubbard soundtracks.

Well I have to say that these aspects of the game are not what makes it for me.

There are fifteen digitised phrases in the game - most of them not very clear at all. The exceptions are "get ready" and "you've been hit". All of these phrases and the sound effects have been "sampled", programmer Simon Nicol assures me. This is as may be but they are still fairly murky as far as I can hear.

The music is OK but hardly one of Hubbard's best - even though it is continuous as the game plays, and does not pause to allow the sound effects. You get both together.

You can't criticise a game for not living up to its hype too much. If you did that, just about every game ever launched would receive a universal slagging. Anyway, there is a lot more to Mega Apocalypse than mere frills. What you have here is a shoot-'em-up for the professional marksman. It lacks the sophistication of game design of, say, a Zynaps or a Delta - but for sheer frenetic blasting it hits the spot.

Eugene Lacey

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