Going mag with power.
PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating
DEVELOPER: Nihon Bussan
RELEASE DATE: October 1988
I’ll give just about any shmup a good grade if it can provide me with a decent challenge, fast speed, and some shuper shweet weapon/ship upgrades, but Magmax? Besides having an intolerably stupid name, Magmax is slow, boring, and its four levels (only four?!) can be beaten all the way through in fifteen minutes or less. These four levels do repeat, but the layouts are uninteresting, and the enemies remain the same, so what’s the point?
That question is only slightly rhetorical. Magmax, while mediocre at best, does present some unique concepts. For example, the four levels are actually split up between an upper level/above ground and a lower level/below ground. Gray platforms will periodically pop up, informing you that you can ascend or descend. It’s not necessary, to alternate between the upper and lower levels in order to beat the game, so in theory, you could play through the entire upper level for one playthrough, then descend to the bottom for the second playthrough. The lower level has harder enemies and more environmental obstacles to avoid – and obviously, the backgrounds fit the environment – but otherwise, shooting things that shoot at you is still your primary objective. Magmax‘s other creative, though poorly executed, idea is the ship attachments that transform you into a robot. You can collect these parts in either the upper or lower levels. The problem is that, once you transform, you are incredibly large and enemy projectiles can easily destroy your gathered robot parts.
The entire goal of Magmax is to transform your pathetic vessel into an overwhelming robot and terrorize the poorly designed locales. In reality, you might be a robot for thirty seconds before some restless vagabond blows up your legs and top half, and you’re left puttering in your ship, shooting weak lasers in a sandy desert, and dreaming of a better shmup.