I spent hours at the arcade playing Galaga as a child. My dad gave me a handful of quarters as I attempted to beat my high score. Almost two decades later, I still play the classic at the theaters. The shmup genre is something special, so when Rival Megagun came my way, I had to play it. How does it stack up against the genre greats? Let’s find out.
Rival Megagun attempts to do something different. Instead of only shooting waves of enemies, you also need to worry about another player. In the story mode, that’s a CPU-controlled opponent, but you can play local or online multiplayer. The screen is split vertically, with one player on each side. From here, players experience a traditional shmup. Enemies gravitate towards the player, who must shoot them down. You rack up points with each killed ship, but there’s a twist. Every five destroyed enemies place a drone on your opponent’s screen. Once the combo breaks, the drones start going after your rival.
Shmup with a twist
It’s an interesting mechanic that keeps players on their toes. It can get hectic because of the mixture of enemy ships, drones, and your opponent that aim to kill you. After killing enough enemies and surviving for a while, a special meter starts to fill. When it’s ready, you can activate a special ability that sends you to the opponent’s screen. From here, you’re given a time limit with an ultimate attack that can kill your opponent rather quickly. On the flip side, dodging your opponent’s special move can prove to be stressful.
There is a story, but it’s generic at best. Each character enters a contest to essentially become the hero the world needs. Every character has some deviation from the narrative, but it’s basically the same. I played the campaign multiple times because the challenge was greater on higher difficulties. Playing on normal was simple fare and one that took me out of the experience. That doesn’t mean Rival Megagun isn’t difficult, but the early difficulty levels are primarily for those unfamiliar with the genre.
Online multiplayer, anybody there?
One of the best things about Rival Megagun is the competitive gameplay. Sure, playing against the computer is fun, but the best experience is with other humans. You can do this through local multiplayer, but unless you have people to play with, that can be difficult. Rival Megagun supports online multiplayer, but the issue is that the community isn’t large. This means that you’re going to struggle to find people to play with. Even though I find the single player entertaining, going up against the computer countless times grows stale. Unfortunately, the lack of online players means that the replay factor is limited.
A cool way to shmup the competition
Rival Megagun is a surprisingly entertaining addition to the shmup genre. As a lifelong fan of Galaga and 1942, Rival Megagun is right up my alley. The gameplay twists genre conventions, the action is intense, and the competition can be tough at times. Despite all the great things, you can figure out enemy patterns through repetitive play, the online community is lacking, and unless you have people to play with, the overall experience outstays its welcome after a while. Still, those looking for a unique indie on the Switch will definitely find some fun in Rival Megagun.
A review code was provided by the publisher.