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Megamania - The Atari Times


Space Invaders + bunch of everyday items = classic?
by Darryl Brundage

November 26, 2003
Megamania kind of makes me think of the severely warped classic of the British skit show Monty Python. I saw Eric Idle (I think it was) being interviewed in regards to the show once, and he said that when people met up with him in public, he was asked a lot if anyone on the show did drugs (especially since the show was adorned with a bunch of cartoons, which, even though they were funny, were weird as anything), and when he said "no", he said they usually seemed disappointed!

Well, I don't know if Megamania creator Steve Cartwright was on drugs or not when he made this game, but it's creation probably went something more like this:

Scene: A couple of clumsy kids with their hands full bump into each other in a room.

Bratty kid #1: Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!

Bratty kid #2: Well you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!

I suspect that's what started it all, with Mr. Cartwright musing about how he could make a different kind of Space Invaders-type game, and he decided to use everyday objects instead of aliens!

So the idea (wherever it REALLY originated from, I don't know) resulted in you controlling a ship (that looks like a Klingon vessel from Star Trek) that shoots at a bunch of projectiles that fly by, which those projectiles can consist of bow ties, cookies, steam irons, tires, and other household oddities, pretty much.

There. That's it. The game could've just been sold as a gimmick alone, but it was still pretty good (after all, Activision DID make it, they were one of the best game companies ever, pretty much), and the reason why is because all of the enemies you'll face (even bow ties are a formidable enemy, believe it or not, they're not just ugly things that tv reporter Irving R. Levine wears) have different attack patterns and all: some objects scroll straight across the screen, others bob up and down, practically touching your ship (which, if one of them or their shots hits you, you're a dead Klingon, or whatever you are), and others fly at a diagonal, among other ways to annoy you.

Steam irons, for instance, have a really nasty trick that you're not going to catch onto right away until it's too late, as there's two rows of them, which, if you don't shoot a few from each row, they'll fill up the screen in two vertical columns that are so dense that you won't be able to squeeze in between any of the irons in order to destroy them, so you're out of luck there (oh, plus you have an energy reading at the bottom of the screen, and if you run out of energy during a wave, again, you're dead).

And then if you're able to survive an attack wave from every enemy in the game, it starts over, but the difficulty bar is raised, as the enemies get faster, suddenly stop and start their attacks, etc. So the game keeps on challenging you through and through.

The sound effects are really spectacular on this one, I think; I can't think of an adjective to describe what it sounds like when you shoot something, but the sound effect really packs a punch and will wake you up, and when you die, you'll fade away, which that graphic is matched by an equally cool sound. About the only thing I don't like about this game is that sometimes an attack won't start immediately, and you're hanging around for several seconds until something pops up, which will cost you a bit of a bonus for remaining energy at the end of a wave.

Also, the graphics aren't that great, as you can't tell what things are half the time unless you look at the instructions, but you could tell what everything was by the time they released this for the 5200 (and probably the Colecovision, I imagine, but I never saw that version).

Still, this is a severe classic, even with it's oddness. Space Invaders never had a better gimmick than this!

Anyway, back to the squabble...

Annoying kid #1: I SAID you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!

Annoying kid #2 (pushes kid #1): You want a piece of me?

Mom: You're BOTH idiots.


(c) Activision

Yes, the colors are weird just like the objects you shoot.
These look a bit like racecars.
Some things march together left to right, other levels get more interesting.
Tiny green things...??
System: 2600
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 60%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 88%
Control Score: 94%

Final Score: 92%

Reader Comments for Megamania

Big fan of this game by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-24 17:46:37
Because I loved Space Invaders and Phoenix, I loved this game as well. The player has a ship at the bottom of the screen that can be moved left and right. The ship looks like the Enterprise on Star Trek. The player must fire at enemies that are above. One thing that sucks about this game is that the player has fuel. If the fuel runs out before every enemy on the screen is destroyed, the players ship is destroyed.
This game has 8 screens. That was rare for Atari 2600 games. The enemies on the first 7 screens fire lasers at you but not on the 8th screen. This is a very good game. It was well worth the $10.00 that I paid for it back in 1984.
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