MagMax (NES)

MagMax Box Art

MagMax

System: NES

Release Date: October 1988

Developer: Nihon Bussan

Publisher: FCI

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Alien raiders have conquered the Earth and are in the process of killing the populace. It’s up to you, the chosen one, pilot of MagMax! This is Nihon Bussan’s first game released in the US. It’s typical side scrolling shoot ‘em up fare and also not at the same time. You see, there are two different parts to the level, an underground portion, which is straight up side scrolling as we’ve seen a million times before, and the above ground portion which is more of a 2.5D representation.

In both styles, you pilot the MagMax, which is a hovercraft. It shoots with a press of the A or B Buttons. Throughout the level, you can come across powerups that upgrade the MagMax into a bipedal robot. There is an upper torso piece and a lower torso piece. Each piece adds an extra bullet to your shot, allowing you to cover more ground. There is also a wave gun upgrade that you can acquire when you have the upper torso piece. The beam destroys otherwise impervious obstacles on the ground.

If you get hit, you lose the torso piece that was struck. If you get hit again, you lose the other piece, then a third time will cause a loss of life. It’s always a pain in the butt when you already have the upper torso and wave gun and that’s what powerups are in your path. There are gray ovals that you can step on to warp to the underground portion of the level. I found the underground to be easier than the above ground. As you continue on, you’ll run into a boss that must be destroyed to move to the next section. There are four sections, forest, desert, ocean, and town, that you loop through over and over again until you run out of lives. There’s not a lot to this one.

Graphics: 1.5

The graphics are nothing to write home about. I give it some credit for trying the 2.5D perspective.

Sound: 1.0

I wasn’t blown away by the music or sound effects. In fact, it seemed that the sound effects would override the music sometimes, which I don’t like.

Gameplay: 2.0

There are powerups and the movements between above and underground, which is novel.

Difficulty: 1.5

The enemies each follow patterns, so the difficulty comes from not learning or reacting to them correctly.

Fun Factor: 1.5

I wasn’t have a lot of fun, but I’ve had far less with other shoot ‘em ups.

Overall Grade: 1.5

MagMax earns a C-. It’s another middle of the road shooter on a system with a ton of them. Worth a bargain bin pickup.

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