Activision always knew how to make a great Atari 2600 game, and I was very happy when they
started to port games to the 5200 Supersystem. Megamania, by Steve Cartwright, was
originally a Space Invaders/Galaxians style of shooter on the 2600. Instead of saving the
universe (again), or protecting your base from invaders, in Megamania you battle hamburgers,
ice cream sandwiches, bugs, radial tires, steam irons, diamond rings, bow ties, and finally
dice. If I recall the "plot" correctly, I think it is a take-off on somebody's nightmare. The 5200 version was ported by Glyn Anderson and released in 1984.
Each of these eight foes has its own unique behavior. If you defeat them all, you start over
again, but the enemies' patterns actually change, making a very challenging shooter! I remember
getting very excitedwhen seeing each new wave of enemies, wondering how each would move and
which new patterns I'd have to learn. You also have a dwindling energy bar (a trademark
Activision game mechanic; it's almost like it was required in their games!) which forces you
to shoot everything as quickly as you can.
To illustrate the movement patterns a bit, each type of enemy basically moves left to right
horizontally (hamburgers, bugs, diamond rings, bow ties) or top to bottom vertically
(ice cream sandwiches, radial tires, steam irons, and dice), but each has its own strange
pattern of moving that way. Bewildered gamers of the 80's tried valiantly to shoot those
tires and ice cream sandwiches before these rammed into their ships; the same gamers knew
that if you didn't shoot at least one steam iron in each of 3 columns, before they reached
the bottom of the screen, that you would be in big trouble. The nice thing is that you get an
extra life every 10k points, so you can die a lot yet still see many levels. I'm always trying
to get to the next 10k point level for a life!
Graphically, 5200 Megamania's objects are much more detailed and improved in appearance and
animation over the 2600 version. The sounds are basically the same, but higher quality and
with a neat doubling effect on some sounds like your ship's recharge. 5200 Megamania is a
very playable shooter, and I like it better than 5200 Space Invaders and 5200 Galaxians.