Overall Rating: 1.5/5 Stars
In 1989, developer Aicom created a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System console called Amagon, published by American Sammy. It was a one-player platform game that revolved around the idea of a Marine being stranded on a tropical island and having to fight his way from one side to the other, using his trusty rifle. However, there were a couple twists: The island features quite an eclectic variety of enemies from native wildlife to robots and aliens, and the Marine, Amagon, can occasionally transform into his alter-ego Megagon, a much more powerful version of himself with a punch-blaster form of weapon that outperforms the rifle by far.
On the NES, a preponderance of platformers already existed, and Amagon tried to separate itself from the pack by incorporating a somewhat unique storyline and the transformation feature. However, in the end, the title ends up playing like a slower-paced, less-polished version of Adventure Island, which was released two years prior. In what may have been a noble intent spoiled by a lack of any remarkable, spectacular replay value, Amagon collapses under the weight of its lackluster experience.
The protagonist, Amagon, is a battle-ready Marine with a limited amount of ammo that must treak across the island he has wrecked upon. This means the actual play style is fairly basic: One button fires, one button jumps, and Amagon instantly dies if he makes contact with any of the various creatures or projectiles.
Considering the patterned movements of many of the enemy obstacles, this already creates the inherent issue of requiring the player to undergo trial-and-error gameplay techniques in order to conquer the game, which provides a very repetitive, unenjoyable time. Even when Amagon is able to transform into the much (much, much) more powerful Megagon, it is still for a limited time, and ultimately a cartridge cannot rely solely on a single appeal in order to make a great game.
The looks are fairly decent, but nothing extraordinary. The animals are animals, the plants are plants, and the bare-chested, Hulk-like Megagon carves an intimidating presence on the screen. While the appearance is a step up over earlier, cruder NES gaming renditions, and are competently developed, they are still pretty average overall.
The music is actually not bad, and can even be somewhat catchy at portions. The sound effects themselves are serviceable but, again, nothing too groundbreaking or newsworthy.
Creativity & Innovation
The idea of a platformer sporting a character that must traverse a hostile island was not original, even dating back to the Pitfall series that began on Atari systems. However, the transformation of Amagon into Megagon was certainly the innovating draw here, and perhaps a prescient one when considering later classic such as Altered Beast for the Sega Genesis.
Overall though, Amagon is bland, and not worth too much playtime. Perhaps it is a worthy challenge, as it does have a steep level of difficulty, so gamers may derive some satisfaction with a long session of trying to beat it. Otherwise, though, there is no truly lasting attraction. For being a “meh” platformer on a system already inundated with platformers, Amagon gets one and a half stars out of five.