Amagon Review

Developer: Aicom Publisher: American Sammy
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

Yay, a good game! Well, I guess I haven’t had too many bad ones recently in the NES section. Anyway, Amagon was this enigma to me as a child, this strange-looking platformer with goofy, almost pirate-like artwork. Well, once I finally got a hold of it I was impressed, and then shocked at the typically negative reviews this title receives. In every case I’ve looked at, it boils down to one thing, not understanding how the game is played. Let me say it outright, Amagon is awesome, one of the best platformers on the NES. Keep reading to find out why.

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Graphically, I really like what they’ve done here for the most part in Amagon. Amagon, your character, has this cool, cartoony look to him. The scenery is lush and detailed with vibrant colors for the most part, and the larger bosses are pretty well done, though slow at times. No flicker, however. My only real gripe are the minor enemies. Sometimes, it’s really hard to tell what they’re supposed to be. These bat, crab looking things in the first level are listed as tarantulas in the manual, and I still don’t see it. Lots of examples of this, but for the most part you’ll understand what they’re doing. Some medium-sized enemies would have fleshed it out better, in my opinion, and here and there some of the creatures are just out of place to me. I get it, he’s going to investigate an alien craft, but why during the final level (yes, I know, near the UFO) am I fighting against teeny, weeny flying saucers and little car-like things? Not very ‘alien’ to me. Anyway, overall I was happy.

Amagon has great music overall. It fits the theme and feel of the game, as well as the character. The majority of the sound effects come from Amagon’s actions, so I was slightly disappointed. Perhaps a few more for the creatures would have been good, but overall I really didn’t notice that much. Good job in this category.

Amagon is, on the surface, a typical platformer. Run around, fight enemies, get power-ups, collect things, fight bosses, repeat. However, they add a few interesting features that make this game stand out. The first thing I noticed on several reviews on a site I will not mention here is that people who’ve played this game don’t seem to get it. Most likely because they didn’t read the manual. In Amagon, along with shooting down enemies with your gun, you’ll notice he can only take a single hit before he dies. You’ll also notice you collect a variety of point icons along the way. Why? Well, once you reach a certain point mark, you can access your ‘Megagon’ power, provided that you’ve collected the ‘Mega Key’ that frequently appears during play. After this you can turn into Megagon, who does have a lifebar, based on how many points you’ve collected. Once you complete a level, they’re transferred back to your point total to be used again. There is, therefore, a bit of strategy to Amagon depending on when you use the points or how many you collect (Megagon cannot collect point blocks). Really like this idea, top notch. Along with this, it has a weird feel to it with large, interesting bosses and plenty of variety. Sometimes you’re jumping platforms, then you might be riding on logs over the river, and so forth. They really keep things moving and interesting. Check it out before I discuss the problems:

The one big problem with Amagon is the controls. Don’t get me wrong, they’re intuitive and easy to use, but Amagon’s jumping ability is awkward at first. He has this odd, mid-range jump that will likely cause you to hit the depth of a few pits when you first try it. However, it’s quite easy once you get the hang of it and as Megagon there is no problem because his jumping range goes through the roof. The only other issue that some gamers have is the difficulty. Amagon is pretty hard. With practice it’s a breeze, but it can be off-putting at first glance because, as far as I’ve seen, most people aren’t aware of the strategic element or even that you can turn into Megagon in the first place. Once you figure this out and how to use it, it’s more of a medium-difficulty title. At first, however, expect to die a lot. Other than that I loved it.

Amagon has some interesting, creative elements to it that pushed the mold at this time. The basics are all there, but they put in some cool features here that I haven’t seen in many other games. The ability to change into Megagon, which has a bit of strategy to it, was novel and made me keep coming back, which brings us to the final category.

Amagon is one of the few games I could say I’ll come back to play now and again. I’ve played it many times over the past few years and it never really gets stale. Plus, I consider it something of an accomplishment to complete it without cheats. It’s probably a game I wouldn’t really mind playing every day, once I got past its minor faults. It’s has good length, too, you’re looking at about an hour and a half of straight play. Luckily, they have a continue feature programmed in here so that when you make it to level four, you can continue from there on out to each level where you’ve arrived.

Amagon needs to be given a more thorough look by gamers because it’s been given an unfair shake on most review sites. Why? Well, people just don’t take the time to play these games usually, they have them on an emulator, try playing with a keyboard and think they suck without having a clue about how the game is played and then pretend they know what they’re talking about. A number of reviews, for example, were totally unaware of the fact that Amagon can change into Megagon, making the game a heck of a lot less fun and really, really difficult. It’s a good lesson, always make sure you check a game out thoroughly and give it a proper sit-down before you decide whether you think it’s good or not. I would say to most people who take the time, they’d find this title shines on many levels.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.8
Written by Stan Review Guide

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