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Mega Apocalypse

Sp-Sp-Speedup.

"Speedup! Rotate! Extra life! Missile! MissMissMissile! Speedup!" Those were the words which repeatedly barked out of the C64's extraordinarily capable SID chip every time you picked up the plethora of pickups which spewed forth from outer space between rounds in the frantic, but wonderful arcade shooter Mega Apocalypse.

Synthesised speech back then was kind of a big deal - but the feats of audio legend Rob Hubbard knew no bounds when it came to the C64, and somehow he even managed to devise a means of overlaying the crystal clear speech on top of one of his trademark three channel tunes.

All this and a great game too. As the follow-up to the neglected-but-promising Crazy Comets, Mega Apocalypse was easily the most impressive game ever to emerge from the rather patchy Martech stable (a cottage industry publisher, based in Pevensey Bay, East Sussex, no less), and, hilariously, was referred to at the time by critics as being retro. In 1987.

The gameplay was utterly compulsive, and charming in a hypnotic, repetitive, one-note kind of way. The idea was simply to shoot all the approaching planets, by guiding your triangular-shaped spaceship around the lower portion of the twinkling starfield.

1

There was a fine risk-reward balance, with more points gained from waiting until the planets were nearer to you, but if you waited too long, it'd require more shots to take them down - oddly. With approaching planets continually joining the scene, you'd risk having to dodge your way through several of them - but you could always use your stock of missiles to get yourself out of trouble.

In the pantheon of so-called classic games, this one's easy to overlook. It wasn't especially ground-breaking even then, but dig it out now and you'll rediscover one of the finest arcade shooters ever to grace the 8-bit scene.

8 /10

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About the author

Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed

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Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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