Rival Megagun Review PC
key review info
- Game: Rival Megagun
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Playing Rival Megagun evokes strange feelings in players. If you’re old enough, it’s going to take you back to the golden days of gaming. If you’re young, you’re going to be captured by its difficulty and role reversal.
Rival Megagun falls into a category of games called shmup, shoot 'em up, or STG. The latter is an abbreviation familiar to Japanese players. These types of games have been around for a very long time, but by that, I mean that we had similar stuff running on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
It’s entirely possible that Sinclair ZX Spectrum sounds like something made up for young players. It was long before personal computers and they worked with audio cassette tapes. I still remember programming the game myself, copying the code from a book, and running it. It was about three pages long, and if you made a single mistake, the game wouldn’t run.
Lots of game genres came and went, but shoot 'em ups stuck around and for the longest time seemed to have evolved along with all the others. But in the past decade, we’ve seen an interesting trend, of games going back, at least concerning graphics, to a much more exciting era.
People that have been playing these types of games 20 or 30 years ago, in arcaded or at home, are now making their own games. Or at least they influence a new generation to appreciate what we have before, and are passing the legacy to new developers.
Like most games, Rival Megagun has a story, but it’s not the kind of thing that would entice most players. We’re here for wanton destruction, and that’s what we’ll get. But it’s important to mention that the game has a single-player portion that’s basically an introduction for each character.
There aren’t many levels available by default, and on normal difficulty, it should take less than hour to complete them. But story-wise, each character has its own background, and I’m sure that some people will be more than happy to go through each narrative.
The basic gist is simple. An alien race who specialize on harvesting garbage invade our world and utterly destroy our defenses. Since they are so fond of gathering debris in orbit, a simple plan is formulated. Humanity starts sending all the garbage in orbit in the hope of keeping the Harvesters busy.
A couple of decade pass and Earth has a difficult time finding garbage to send into orbit. A contest is organized to discover a hero that’s capable of taking on the alien enemy. This is where all storylines start, and the reason why you’re facing a rival.
Gameplay and design
The screen is divided in two, with your ship always being the left. Your opponent, an AI or another player is on the right. The first problems are the enemy ships and their projectiles. Destroying them gives you firing power, which can be used to send your own projectiles over to the right side to increase the difficulty for the other players.
Each ship can only take two hits, and power-ups, bombs, and repairs are quite rare, so dodging everything is your best bet. If you’re overwhelmed, you can use a bomb that destroys pretty much everything on your side of the screen, but you only get one.
Now, here comes the kicker. Instead of sending projectiles in your rival’s screen, you choose to save that power and unleash all at once. Your ship turns into a boss and invades the enemy’s screen. You only need to hit the ship twice.
The only problem is that the AI is incredibly proficient. If you’re playing the game on easy or normal difficulty, you will notice some patterns for the AI, and you will have a chance of winning. Anything more difficult, Rival Megagun turns into punishing experience. And that’s actually OK.
It’s a well-known fact that shoot 'ems are usually extremely difficult, and Rival Megagun is no exception. These types of games are supposed to be difficult, so don’t despair.
And to make things a little bit even more interesting, on the highest difficulty setting, the AI can change into its Boss form and invade your part of the screen right from the start. I don’t have to tell you just how frustrating the game becomes then.
Funny enough, the last fight of the game is a standard level in which you face the alien mothership, in a regular battle. It kind of made me wish for a new game with that type of gameplay in mind, but then I reminded myself that I’ve played that kind of scenarios way too often.
Of course, characters are different from one another, and some ships might seem better. But in the end, you’re still going to face the same problem with AI.
Since this game is called Rival Megagun, you must imagine that playing against other people is a big thing. You can choose to play against a player on the same computer, against a player in your contact list, or against some random guy online.
And that random guy is always someone that seems to have been playing this game all his life, with an uncanny ability to dodge pretty much anything. I have yet to win an online match, but I also understand that I must put a lot more hours in if I want to stand a chance, ever.
Besides the storyline, which pits players against the AI, it’s also possible to play against the AI in single matches, that have no connection to the story. And, for some weird reason, there is also an option to watch a match between two AI players. My guess is that you can see what strategies are employed, but that’s as far as I can go with it.
As for the graphics and design itself, I have to say that Rival Megagun is almost perfect. The graphics are just fine, the animations smooth and interesting, but I’m more interested in contrast. When playing shoot 'em ups, especially difficult ones, is essential to be able to see everything that happens on screen,
Most of the time, there are dozens of projectiles flying about, and you’re out of bombs. Dodging incoming stuff is much easier when the everything is well defined, projectiles are clear and easy to see. I’m not saying that it makes the game easier, just less annoying.
- Engaging concept
- Big differences between available ships
- Play against friends on the same PC or online
- Some difficulty spikes are more annoying than challenging
These are rhetorical questions and won’t get an answer, but I’m now looking forward seeing if the concept will be pushed forwards in the future. Maybe make some adjustments and let 2 vs. 2 matches be a thing.
In any case, the combination of melancholy, frustration, and joy Rival Megagun brings to players mustn’t be underestimated. It’s an almost perfect blend of genres that just might spawn some fantastic sequels.