Thursday, 19 June 2014

M.U.S.H.A. - Sega Mega Drive - 1990

The first boss is a pagoda on caterpillar tracks.

M.U.S.H.A. is a vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up released exclusively for the Sega Mega Drive in 1990.  It’s a game I was not familiar with and have to admit that first impressions were not that good.  If I had to describe it in one word it would be frantic.  You get wave after wave of enemies and gun emplacements firing at you.  The action is relentless and very fast and I was overwhelmed by the amount going on.  I died very quickly.  Time to consult the instructions.

It’s the year 2290 AD and man is advanced enough to start colonising outer space.  However, the supercomputer controlling a colony goes rogue and starts sending its attack units against mankind (very original).  You are one of a squad of pilots sent to put a stop to the attack.  Unfortunately all your wingmen are shot down and it is left to you to fight on alone.

The game has you clad in the flying Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armour of the title.  This ‘armour’ doesn’t provide any protection as you lose a life with one hit.  If you die you reappear in the same spot with no let up in the onslaught.  The default weapon is a single forward firing laser.  In line with the genre, M.U.S.H.A. is played over several stages (seven in all), each concluding with a boss fight.
A couple of the weird and wonderful bosses.

Your longevity and firepower are greatly improved by picking up the secondary weapons/power-ups that frequently appear.  They are displayed as Lightning, Fire and Water symbols.  The Lightning and Fire power-ups improve your firepower, while the Water icon provides a rotating defensive shield.  You can only carry one type of power-up at a time, but it can be upgraded up to four times if you continue to collect the same icon.  They also provide some protection as if you are hit you lose the power-up before losing a life.  Strangely, the main and secondary weapons are mapped to different buttons so I had to hold down both for maximum effect.

Firepower can also be increased by collecting the chips dropped by a particular craft that occasionally hovers on the screen.  As well as upgrading your main weapon, the chips provide a maximum of two bullet firing drones - three chips for each drone.  Continuing to collect the chips when you already have two drones creates replacements that are available if one is destroyed.
The white object on the right moves back and forth across the screen and drops 'chips' when shot.

You can cycle through several formations for the drones depending on the situation. ‘Forward’ supplements your main weapon. With '3Way' they fire forward and slightly to the side. 'Back' fires backwards. Select 'Reverse' and they fire in the opposite way to which you are moving (the same as the red pods in Image Fight).  If you choose ‘Roll’ they circle your ship firing outwards in all directions.  In ‘Free’ mode, the drones home in on enemies and pelt them with bullets until they are destroyed.

Finally, you can also change your speed but only when the game is paused.

M.U.S.H.A. is intense, non-stop action with lots of bullets and varied enemies filling the screen.  Additionally, the scrolling is smooth and fast with no hint of slowdown when the screen gets busy.  The music is also good and gets the adrenaline pumping nicely.  Although very fast, the game is not overly difficult due to the fact the power-ups provide limited protection and you respawn in the same spot when you die.  M.U.S.H.A. is a game I like a lot and proves that first impressions don’t mean a thing.
It's not all shooting.  This is a fast section where you have to avoid the walls.

Example gameplay - NB. Uploading the file to YouTube caused glitches in the graphics making the ship and weapons disappear.  Also the scrolling is not as smooth.

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