Title Megaball 4 (Second Review) Company Intangible Assets Manufacturing Game Type General Action Players 1/2 (hotseat) HD Installable Yes Compatibility Both AGA and ECS version on disk Submission Jason Compton This Amiga Report review appears here by courtesy of Jason Compton Review Breakout, Brickbreaker, Arkanoid...whatever the first game you saw in this genre was, chances are you liked it. There seems to be an irresistable element to these games that brings people in droves. Hordes of beginning computer students have slaved away to recreate the game on all sorts of platforms in all sorts of languages. The premise is so simple...a bar at the bottom of the screen hits a ball around, which hits bricks at the top of the screen. Get rid of all the bricks, you win. Breakout had the original idea. Arkanoid made it slick, with the concept of falling "powerups" to give you special weapons or abilities. (It seems to be the inevitable evolution of arcade games that powerups always show up sooner or later...) MegaBall improves on the Arkanoid model, giving it a sense of style and something uniquely...Amiga. MegaBall hasn't exactly been a secret. On the contrary, it's been a shareware game for years, up to and including version 3, from the Mackey brothers, Ed and Al. A unique registration offer came to them a few years back from one Dale Larson (a pizza and a tour of Commodore, where Larson was in the Amiga Networking Group at the time), and none of them forgot about the experience. After doing well in the Amiga market, Larson decided he wanted to publish a game. After doing well in the shareware market, the Mackeys decided they wanted to be published. And so MegaBall 4 was born. MegaBall loads on virtually any Amiga system, down to a 1 meg A500 and up to an Amiga 4000/040. The game is designed to run in NTSC, but a MODEID tooltype can be used in conjunction with a special tool, included with the game, to identify valid screenmodes for play. PAL users will simply find that their entire screen isn't being used by the game. Graphics card users are encouraged to try, but not to expect great results. Just a tip: Multiscan Extra-Low Res looks bad, too. The brick-breaking idea in MegaBall form is this: Go up against multicolored bricks in anything from the standard Breakout rectangle to Santa Claus shapes. Grab powerups that may make your paddle bigger, smaller, give it guns, kill you, change the laws of physics, or a number of other things. Delight in blowing up half the screen with special Dynamite bricks, or watch in disgust as Green Slime bricks breed across the screen until they touch another brick and clone it. Wince as Blue Growers make your task difficult by blowing up into even more bricks. And, oh yeah, be sure you stay away from the "powerup" that kills (you). At the same time, one of 5 music tracks plays in the background (leaving one channel free for sound effects.) The tracks and graphics, both ECS and AGA, were designed by Al Mackey--and a fine job of it. All 5 music tracks have a very "arcade" feel to them, giving MegaBall a sense of atmosphere beyond being a simple genre piece. If the hundreds of levels included with the game bore you (and it'll take quite some time), you're welcome to build your own with the Board Editor, a ridiculously simple program that will turn you into a hero in the eyes of your jaded MegaBall-owning pals. Speaking of friends, MegaBall allows for two players, but they take turns rather than working cooperatively, as games such as CyberSphere allow. Perhaps best of all is that MegaBall is highly system friendly and multitasking. It is, bar none, THE best thing to do with your Amiga during a long download, taking away an insignificant amount of transfer time (on my 030/25 A3000) but plugging away at full speed. And should you need to check that download or render, MegaBall automatically pauses upon sensing a screen switch. If you're REALLY lucky, you'll hear the special "pause" music track. MegaBall lacks a few Arkanoidian features, such as multiball play and those annoying spaceships that come down from the top of the screen to make your job tougher. You won't notice, though, as your single ball achieves lightning speeds or you gleefully send it plunging through half a screen full of exploding bricks. You won't notice when you make a level out of your boss or ex-boy/girlfriend's name and happily blast it to bits. You won't notice when you realize it's 3 AM and you should probably get some sleep... Your US$30 buys you a loud red box, 3 disks of MegaBall 4, an AFS Floppy demo disk, and a really great game. The manual for both MegaBall and the Board Editor is in AmigaGuide (Aside from his book, Dale Larson is not one for extensive printed documentation--the printed one page insert is a record for IAM products), and includes tips for advanced players, notes to MOD authors who want to make their own works MegaBall-compatible, and the cheat keys for the game. If you've been wanting to register MegaBall 3 but just couldn't get around to it, IAM's worldwide distribution leaves you little choice but to buy MegaBall 4.