There are a host of shoot-em-ups out there these days and some, like Rival Megagun attempt to pull you in with a twist. The twist in Rival Megagun is the ability to attack your opponent, but that only goes so far.
The graphics hark back to the days of arcades and home computers with names like Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, and Acorn Archimedes. In fact, I caught myself humming "Megablast" by Bomb the Bass which people of the right age will recognise as being the theme to Xenon 2.
There are three game modes, Arcade which is traditional vs AI single player campaign mode, Versus which is the head to head mode vs a player or CPU, and Online Battle which is vs a friend or some random via matchmaking. I can't comment on the third option since I never managed to find an opponent, but the first and second are fun enough.
And that's the problem, this game is "fun enough", there's a bit of a hook in the antagonistic gameplay, dropping bombs and switching to uber ship mode and blowing holes in your opponent is fun, but that's about where it ends. I'll be frank, if I want to play a vertically scrolling shmup I'll play Xenon 2.
Arcade mode puts you on the left of the screen in whichever character you pick playing through a specific story for each. I was tempted to put "story" in quotation marks there, as it is more than a little derivative (evil space robots attack the earth, big battle leaves debris in orbit, blah-blah-blah to be honest, I hit skip at that point). Happily, there's not a great deal of preamble and once the zero wing-esque screens are done it's into the combat. The object of the game is as you'd expect, kill the beasties raining down on you and survive as long as possible with the best result being they die before you do.
The characters are just a bland grab bag of clichés: plucky kid, evil genius, strange cyborg kid with a blancmange on their head, square-jawed hero, smiley robot, genius child... you get the idea. Pick an 80s Saturday morning cartoon and you'll find the same vapid bunch of clowns. Each has their own ship and commensurate special attacks and super boss shooty-at-the-other-player form.
In a totally unsurprising turn of events, the special attacks are powered by a meter on the side of the screen. The amusing part is that the attacks in question don't blow away big chunks of bad guys, they plink away at your opponent in the form of missiles, bombs, and so on. That is until you fill the meter, at which point you warp into your mega super shooty form and appear at the top of their part of the screen like an old school shmup boss. Needless to say, if they can dodge your shots, they can shoot you down and force you back onto your own side.
Killing things in quick succession in batches of five spawns new nasties on your opponents' screen, and occasional goodies pop up on your own, all the usual fare; bombs that clear the screen, repair kits to heal your ship, and so on.
All of this may in some way make you feel you'd like a go at Rival Megagun, but I am about to point out the reasons I'm not recommending it. Hit detection... IT'S AWFUL! Shots that just clip you can do naff all, or suddenly wipe out 90% of your health with no consistency at all. The levels offer up no standout variation, the enemies are so similar to each other that I can't really tell them apart too well, but that could just be my 45-year-old eyes.
Completing the campaign for each character unlocks cards that give you an insight into the background and lore of each one, but I confess I couldn't find a reason to get that far.
Rival Megagun will appeal to retro fans and those who didn't have an Amiga in the 80s, but for those who did... it's a pale imitation at best.
Rival Megagun (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
A Mediocre vertical shooter with an unimpressive twist.