Nichibutsu's 1985 MagMax

Who doesn't want to be a giant robot and wreak havoc around? Well, Mag Max got you there. Somewhat of an earthbound Xevious, you roam around a parallaxed, side scrolling terrain which almost looks 3D, blasting the usual compounds and roving enemies. First you're on what seems a truly ugly SUV, but soon you'll find a chest with a robot head; that's when you realize you're on the truly ugly belly of a robot. Docking this two parts yields stronger firepower. Manage to stay alive long enough and you'll find the legs, and also what seems like a sword or wand, which enable to blast previously indestructible structures. There are some hatches around that, when open, give access (via a nifty transporter-beam effect... well, 80's nifty, that is) to an underground section. Here the enemies are more numerous and there are volcanoes and stalactites to worry about. Hatches on the roof give acccess back to the surface when you've had enough. Manage to keep enough time in full robot mode, and its firepower is almost adequate for the enemy onslaught. Make it to the desert, and enemies keep getting interesting...

Missing Ingredient

The nice graphics, varied with the usual industrial compounds, desert wastelands, tecno-looking bases, rivers where enemy towers surface, are really the strong point of the game. The full bodied robot looks good, if somewhat nerdy, roaming around. However, this isn't really 3D, and it shows when trying to hit many ground-based enemies, which seem to be paper-thin, as you have to be positoned exactly in front of them to score a hit. And the number and speed of flying critters really put a hamper on gameplay. It looks tamer than the R-Type kind of games, but the accuracy and tendency of foes for homing in is very high. Faster firepower and a more forgiving collision detection would have made it more enjoyable. Still, it has even some humorous moments, like when a full robot loses the head. The long-legged, chicken-looking robot that results will make you chuckle... until it's blasted by a swarm of bat-looking planes that homed in for the kill with deadly accuracy.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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