What time is it? You guessed it its crappy movie tie-in time, and what disappointing movie-based game are we going to be looking at today? Krull? No… Ghostbusters? Nah! Philly Flasher?.. Hell no! Ah! Of course there can be no other than Mega Force! Who remembers Mega Force? ‘cause I don’t, this movie was a total flop at the box office barely making back a quarter of its 20 million dollar budget. It’s your standard Mad Max style post apocalyptic future with awesome vehicles and explosions everywhere. This movie is so disliked that it has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics, though it seems audiences like it a bit more with it sitting 41% with them. With a movie this well received it seems only logical that a game bearing its name should be released for the good old Atari VCS. Before we delve elbow deep into this stinker I feel the need to impart some trivia. The commercial for the Mega Force Atari game featured a young Brian Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, he still looked like a 50 year old man though and only had around five frames of his face in shot but it is undeniably Brian Cranston. Okay no more trivia.
I gotta hand it to them; they did very good when it came to the graphics of Mega Force. The background and environments are detailed and pleasing to the eye. The enemy sprites are rather simplistic but they get the job done well enough. The sprites for the cities, fuel depots, and other environmental items like palm trees and oases are done fantastically and are very detailed by 2600 standards. Overall the graphics are done well but I struggle to find anything meaningful to say about them so I’m just going to go on to the sounds.
The sounds are alright, they’re good and chunky just like I like them. The shooting and explosion sound effects are particularly gratifying but that’s about all I can say about them. The rest of the sounds are the same ones that you’ve heard dozens of times in every other Atari game, in fact I can’t say with certainty that any of the sounds are original, they might all be reused from a different game, Fox or otherwise.
The gameplay is so close to being good that it hurts, but it just has so many flaws that it doesn’t quite work. The game that they were trying to emulate was Defender, what with the side-scrolling shooter gameplay and overall feel. The problem is you aren’t allowed to go all out scorched earth like in Defender, here you have to be slow and meticulous because you aren’t out to just destroy things you have to protect them as well. You are tasked with destroying the black and red enemy base while also protecting the white and yellow city of Sardoun, it sounds simple. The get to the enemy base you have to cross a no-man’s-land of enemy aircraft, ground to air missiles, and fuel depots. Here’s where things get difficult, saucers will appear around fuel depots, as will the missiles, the saucers will fire on you pretty indiscriminately while the missiles will lock onto your position and attempt to hit you from the bottom. Any sensible person would just nope the hell out of there but you can’t you have to stop and destroy the saucers because the saucers will continue forward and destroy the city of Sardoun, the game won’t end if the city is destroyed you can destroy the enemy base and finish the round but you won’t get any points for it and you’ll lose a life. So, you’re being forced to confront the saucers it sounds like it shouldn’t be much of a problem, but it is. You maneuver like a three legged rhinoceros wading through molasses, turning around from full speed takes about half the screen and vertical movement is extremely slow while moving forward makes Usien Bolt look like a tortoise.
The game simply doesn’t work; you are forced to make calculated and sudden movements with the controls from Defender, while maintaining your fuel level, destroying enemies that are attacking from front, back, and bottom, and if you let a single enemy past you may lose the game because those suckers can level Sardoun in a few seconds. The manual mentions bonus items that will boost your score but they won’t matter since you either won’t be alive long enough to collect them, or you won’t get any points from them since Sardoun was leveled since you missed a single saucer and couldn’t turn around in time. If the controls were more precise many of these complaints would be retracted, but as it stands Mega Force is just an average to bad game. If you want a copy for yourself then you’ll be paying around 7-20 dollars for a loose cartridge and 35+ for a boxed copy. It’s Collector’s Zone for Mega Force without a doubt, just play Defender or Defender II you’ll have a far better time.