Space Megaforce FI

SNES A Day 104: Space Megaforce

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Approximate Release Date: October 30, 1992
Genre: Scrolling shooter
Developer: Compile
Publisher: Toho

After two consecutive middling shooters, Space Megaforce plays like a dream.

I’m usually not one for vertically scrolling shooters. It’s not for any real reason except I have more experience with Gradius III-styled side-scrolling shooters. Despite that preference, I had a great time with Space Megaforce.

The biggest thing Space Megaforce gets right is how even with a ton of stuff going on at any given time on screen it never feels overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out how the developers were able to accomplish this. Given that there can be many enemies flying around, a detailed scrolling background, stuff in the foreground that you have to destroy, stuff in the foreground that’s just decoration, energy beams, and power-ups all at once, that wasn’t an easy accomplishment. I never died because something important was visually buried.

There are eight different weapons that spawn in set locations in levels. Space Megaforce bucks tradition by having all eight be worth using. Some are more situational than others – the charged shot takes a really long time to charge to full power – and some are probably overpowered – the laser in particular can clear out entire screens without much effort – but not having any that are awful is an accomplishment. And by pressing the R button, most weapons will toggle between different firing patterns.

One feature that falls flat is the “short game” mode. The mode takes the standard Space Megaforce levels, cuts them in half, and shuffles them around. It’s a great idea, but the levels just end suddenly, sometimes without a boss battle. It’s not satisfying and I never felt that the standard levels were too long in the first place.

I don’t really have any other problems with the game. This is a very fun and very refined game. If you’re looking for a shooter to play on the Super Nintendo, Space Megaforce should be at the top of the list.

I still prefer side-scrolling shooters, though.

Tomorrow: Punch and kick millions of dudes in Super Double Dragon!

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