Shoot ’em ups were all over the video game scene from the 80s to the early 90s, and Space Megaforce joined the genre in 1992 on the Super Nintendo. Developed by Compile and published by Toho, Space Megaforce offered two different modes, one “short game” that focused on short levels intending to earn a high score and the regular mode that features 12 levels. How does Space Megaforce compare to other shoot em ups that I’ve reviewed?
It happens more than you realize but video games that come from Japan are often changed for Western audiences and what the U.S. wings of the Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Microsoft deem suitable for North America. Japan, to put it bluntly, has more artistic freedom, their stories, and characters may seem weird or too “sexy” but it’s what they like. For one reason or another, everything gets toned down for the North American releases which to me is very disappointing. Why can’t we experience what the original creators wanted? Are our minds and eyes too fragile and sensitive and who decides that? I begin with that paragraph because Space Megaforce comes to North America vastly different than the Japanese original. It wasn’t the first game to be changed and there will be another million in the future that are changed. Let’s take a look at the difference between the U.S. and the Japanese version of Space Mega Force.
The year is 2048 and Earth has an alien object in the shape of a giant sphere start destroying cities around the world. Somewhere over South America, the sphere begins to become a hub for the aliens as a base of their attack. The world desperately searches for a way to destroy the sphere but all their fighter jets have been destroyed by the aliens.
Scientists begin to build a super fighter jet and pairs the newest technology with an ace pilot. He goes on to battle with the aliens eventually breaking through their defenses and destroying the orb. Kinda a boring story right?
Well, in the Japanese version it’s much different. The pilot from this story is named Raz and he has fought the sphere before and failed. The first attempt to destroy the sphere resulted in a trapped consciousness in the sphere escaping and creating a female body to help co-pilot Raz’s fighter jet against the aliens.
This female is called Thi and she instructs Raz that they need to destroy the sources of energy to the alien sphere first before trying to take it on. With her instructions, Raz and Thi begin their missions to destroy the energy sources. After they succeed in that goal, they take on the sphere and destroy it but Thi starts to act weird and enters the sphere. She frees all the other intelligent lifeforms and consciousnesses that were trapped within the sphere. The remaining pieces of the sphere leave Earth and travel to the ends of space. Raz and Thi are heroes and keep the peace of Earth. Now isn’t that way cooler than the previous crap story that North America got? There are tons of images and cut scenes that were removed or replaced from the American version too that features Thi. I don’t know if Nintendo of America thought the game was too sexy or if the female pilot was not needed but they changed the entire ending. Here are a few cut scenes that were removed from the American release.
You be the judge, why was this game censored or changed for America?
I wrote my notes down for Space Megaforce before I realized how censored it was but the opening for the game has very little information on what is going on. There are a few images and then a jet comes flying at you on the screen.
Right from the start, a lot is going on. Weapon upgrades will constantly fall from the top of the screen. Remember this is a vertical shooter so you’ll be flying into them. There are six different weapons to choose from and each has six or seven upgrades available. This makes the game highly replayable. I stuck with three different weapons that I found worked for me. There was a homing missile set, a huge laser, and a circular orbs that spun around your ship and destroyed anything they touched. You power up the weapons by shooting enemies who will then drop yellow eggs. You’ll have to collect enough of these eggs until a green one comes up, once you collect a green one your weapon is upgraded. Do this routine six times and you’re almost unstoppable.
Health doesn’t exist in Space Megaforce, there are no “one-hit kills” against you or a health bar. Instead, your ship is kept alive by how many weapon upgrades you have. The higher the number the more hits you can take which means when you are fully powered you can take up to six hits but each hit will knock your ship down a peg until your weapon level reaches zero. If you are hit when your weapon level is zero, then it’s game over as your ship explodes. You’ll be revived on the spot depending on how many lives you have left and you’ll start at zero again to begin building up your weapons. The weapons were so much fun to use and I had a blast figuring out which ones I loved and which ones I didn’t.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot is happening on screen. Some games wouldn’t be able to handle this but Space Megaforce does an excellent job with no slow down or enemy flickering. I came away impressed with how much it could handle. When things got to be too much you are granted a few mega bombs that will clear most of the screen for you. Dropping them is always fun as they obliterate everything.
Each level is Space Megaforce feels, for the most part, unique and boss fights at the end are a valid reward for your hard work. I’ve played a lot of shooters now after starting this website and Space Megaforce ranks up near the top for most impressive bosses, not just aesthetically but for strategy. There was a boss who cages you in and then rolls his core around in the cage to try and kill you. I thought it was awesome and a new challenge I hadn’t yet faced from a shoot ’em up. The final boss was an alien head that looked similar to the heads from the aliens in the movie “Independence Day”. He extends his long necks and fires bullets at you while being flanked by two buddies of his.
Never heard of this game before reviewing it.
Space Megaforce is just a terrific shooter overall filled with unique bosses, tons of actions, and a great weapon system that will keep you coming back for more. Its length is also to be commended as it will challenge you for more than 20 minutes. You’re looking at about an hour of gaming if you do a perfect run. Lots of fun to be had with this shoot ’em up on the SNES.
Space Megaforce scores a 9.1 out of 10.
Do you remember when Space Megaforce first came out? What did you think of the gameplay? Were you aware that the game was drastically changed from Japan to the North American release? What was your favorite boss? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Space Megaforce, you can purchase a used copy of it for the SNES for $200 on eBay.