Rival Megagun (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 06.02.2019

Review for Rival Megagun on PC

Far in the future, the first Rival Megagun tournament is about to begin. Participants from all over the globe are competing for the grand prize: enough money to make anyone's wildest dreams come true. There is a catch however. For over two decades, the Harvesters have lorded over Earth, demanding all of its resources for their own consumption. Whoever survives this brutal competition must enter the alien home world and destroy it once and for all. Yeesh… If these fighters really needed some cash, they'd have better luck with the lottery.

For the longest time, the idea of people playing a shmup competitively was beating each other's high scores. That all changed with the release of Twinkle Star Sprites in 1996. This classic mixed 2D shooter action with the mechanics of a falling block puzzler to create something entirely fresh and fun. There have been other "Versus" shmups such as Change Air Blade, but the subgenre never really caught on. Even though over twenty years have passed, the number of titles in this niche has yet to reach the double-digit mark.

Enter Rival Megagun, the manic PvP shmup that aims to keep the dream alive; the dream of burying hapless rivals in a hail of bullets. If players don't have an ironclad resolve and the ability to adapt to nightmarish scenarios, then they won't get far in here. This is a relentless and unforgiving game where momentum can shift as easily as the tide. There are also a wide variety of possibilities to account for. Each of the five stages has different enemy combinations, all with their own bullet patterns. The seven playable characters have an array of weapons and techniques to work with. It's a lot to absorb, especially when everyone is always two mistakes away from becoming space debris.

For now, here's a look at the basic strategy. This revolves around chaining, meaning that, as long as the player is shooting down multiple enemies in a short period of time, the chain will grow. While the chain is building, portals will start to appear on the opponent's playfield. When the chain ends, all of those portals will open, and an armada of drones will arrive. Naturally, these drones are going to start firing, and they won't stop until they're destroyed. Now keep in mind that the opponent will be doing the same thing, so both players can expect to deal a veritable battalion of enemies, before a winner is decided.

Screenshot for Rival Megagun on PC

While engaging with hostiles, pilots are bound to notice the power gauge. By pressing the appropriate button, a little energy is spent to launch a special attack. This fires a projectile directly into the opponent's playfield. That same button can be held down and released to fire more projectiles, at the cost of additional energy. The applications are numerous, but keep in mind that this ability requires one to stop firing. It's a big risk, because it could mean losing the chain. On the other hand, if the special attack connects, then the opponent's chain will break. Broken chains are disastrous to say the least. All of the pilot's summoned portals disappear, so that means no drone attack. Also, any meter earned via the current chain is lost.

If that just isn't enough, then it's time to bring out the big guns. When the power gauge is at 100%, the pilots can transform their vessel into the almighty Mega Gunship. This behemoth makes use of a sizable arsenal to crush any adversity. Once either player has entered their "boss" form, their life-bar must be depleted before the match can continue as normal. If this sounds a little unfair, then consider it all the more reason to build that power gauge and coordinate those special attacks. The best way to deal with a Mega Gunship is to stop it from ever appearing. Otherwise, be ready to put those dodging skills to the test.

Finally, there's the Overkill attack. In order to perform this ultimate technique, the power gauge has to be raised to 200%. Granted, this is rather difficult to pull off, since getting the gauge past a certain point requires a chain. To add to this, the gauge will drop back down to 100% if the chain ends. If the player manages to unleash the Overkill, their opponent is all but finished. Expect to deal with a ton of drones, a bevy of special attacks, and the Mega Gunship as the coup de grace. The chances of survival are slim to none.

Screenshot for Rival Megagun on PC

There is one resource to fall back on when the situation becomes truly dire, and that's the bomb. At the start of a match, one bomb is allotted to each player. This weapon clears the screen of drones and bullets, while doing immense damage to Mega Gunships. Managing this limited resource is essential, because it helps to keep pilots from being overwhelmed. High-level play tends to become more about endurance than anything else. Being able to avoid a flurry of bullets is nice, but one must also take care not to mentally exhaust themselves. If that means dropping a bomb instead of trying to deal with a small army, then so be it.

Even accounting for the basics, Rival Megagun has a sizable learning curve. Not only do players have to figure out their opponent's strengths and weaknesses, they also have to handle minions that are filling the screen with bullets. If one can't handle the drones, there's no way they'd stand a chance in an actual competitive match. Of the four difficulty settings, it's a good idea to start with normal and work up from there. The higher difficulties are reserved for those who can comfortably handle almost anything that's thrown at them. It might also be worth spending some time with AI opponents. They're inconsistent at times, but they get the job done.

Anyone looking to get a better understanding of the storyline should check out Arcade mode. It features a series of bouts against most of the cast, with a climatic finale taking place in the Harvester's home planet. One of the intriguing aspects of this mode is that there is a scoring system. Mostly it rewards matches that go on for a long period of time, like, for example, by allotting 10,000 point bonuses for every Mega Gunship transformation. However, the inconsistent AI becomes more prominent of an issue. They might gracefully dodge everything the player throws at them, or they could die in the first 20 seconds of the match. This can make playing for score a little frustrating. Also, the hardest difficulty causes the AI to transform at the beginning of every match. That's just plain cheap.

Screenshot for Rival Megagun on PC

Since the Versus and Online modes are liable to take up the bulk of one's time, there is another feature to consider. As play time accumulates, various gears will unlock. These upgrades can be equipped, offering perks such as an autobomb, or an option that adds a little extra firepower. Alternate special attacks are also available to every character, giving their arsenal a slight twist. Customized loadouts will definitely have an effect on how matches play out. Thankfully, the developer makes relatively frequent updates, so if something seems overpowered, then it won't be overpowered for long. Also, it's worth noting that some might prefer not to use gears at all, especially in a tournament setting.

Upon starting this game, the first thing anyone is going to notice is that it plays extremely well. The controls and mechanics suit the action perfectly. Weaving through the chaos is as natural as breathing, and it's rewarding in itself to escape certain death by pixels. This makes for a shmup that's naturally fun. Though there is a learning curve, it doesn't take a ton of skill and experience to dive in. There's an appropriate level of feedback and the UI accounts for all of the necessities. Players are unlikely to be confused or left wondering why they keep taking damage.

Where this title really excels is that it's ambitious, yet still manages to be very balanced. There are a lot of factors to consider in every match, yet there doesn't seem to be any weapons or setups that offer a clear advantage. The strategy doesn't devolve into "use this character" or "spam this special attack." There are methods for turning a bad situation around as well as opportunities to exploit openings. A lot of "back and forth" goes on in a match, with players trying their best to exhaust each other's resources and get the win. The longer a duel goes on, the more thrilling it becomes. Although it can be difficult to find competition online, there is a dedicated community that's always looking for a fight. Online tournaments seem to occur on a semi-regular basis, as well.

Screenshot for Rival Megagun on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Seeing as how Versus STGs are incredibly uncommon, Rival Megagun could easily get some recognition just for being part of such a rare niche. Thankfully, Spacewave Software went above and beyond to create a fantastic shooter. It has gotten the basics down pat, and delivers an exceptionally realized meta. Players are rewarded for thinking three moves ahead, reading their opponents, and finding the right opportunity to strike. For competitive gamers looking for something new, this is highly recommended.

Developer

Spacewave Software

Publisher

Degica

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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