Steve Cartwright’s second game for Activision, Megamania, riffed off of the formula popularized by Space Invaders and seen in practically every other game in the early eighties. Megamania was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600 and bears a close resemblance to Sega’s Astro Blaster arcade game.
Piloting what looks like the USS Enterprise, players must blast through waves of enemies zigzagging across the screen. These take the shape of seemingly random objects such as hamburgers and bow ties. Each enemy class has a unique pattern and typically, the difficulty increases with each defeated wave.
I found a few interesting mechanics at work in Megamania. Firstly, after firing I could control my shot, moving it to the left or right. This was beneficial as Megamania was pretty tough. Secondly was the energy meter which effectively provided a time limit for defeating a wave and provided points if any was leftover. Lastly, some of the waves descended towards the ground (all the while zigzagging) but would keep cycling through from the top, meaning I had to defeat every enemy.
Activision Anthology unlockables included a commercial, a patch, and a gameplay mode which were unlocked with scores of 5,000 to 45,000 points. The trippy commercial features a theme song of sorts performed by The Tubes. The starfield gameplay mode attempts to be as wondrous but doesn’t quite make it.