Review by antseezee
Reviewed: 07/29/03 | Updated: 07/29/03
This is not an exciting adventure in the Amazon.
Many action games need to capture an essence of fast paced gameplay, plus an excitement that captivates the gamer. While some classics have been able to attain this status, many have not, much like Amagon. Basically, Amagon is an action platform game which involves numerous jumps, bad enemy AI, and lacking controls. While it has a partially good concept, none of it is executed properly during gameplay. The basic storyline behind the game is that you're a commando/soldier named Amagon. Suddenly, your air plane crashes on a deserted island, but there just so happens to be a boat on the other side. Thus, you must travel all the way across the island until you can reach this boat. However, you come across numerous mushrooms, birds, and snakes that try to kill you in the process. Will we ever understand why these harmless organisms are trying to kill you? Probably not.
Every side scrolling action game needs well designed characters, distinguishable enemies, and decent level designs. For the most part, Amagon is able to capture most of these objectives, but it never goes into extreme detail in each department. The main view of the game is similar to that of any side scrolling 2D platform game. Your character is small, but somewhat decent looking (although his puny character frame makes him resemble nothing to that of a soldier). Amagon instead looks like a fruit pop kid, with bright red hair and a leather sports jacket. Detail is minimal, as you can only make out his smiling grin, or supposed gun in his hand. Enemies do show particular features, such as jumping mushrooms or swooping birds. Many animations are well designed; you can tell when a bird is flapping its wings, or a snake is going to shoot out fireballs. Unfortunately, the backgrounds in Amagon are very linear based, mainly composed of one or two colors. Rather than a wild jungle full of weird and interesting things, the entire game turns into the background of a bland painting.
Bosses are hardly even marked differently and just look like rip offs of other enemies. The character animations of Amagon are not impressive, but they do get the job done. You can tell when your rifle shoots a blasting bullet, or you crouch to dodge an incoming projectile. There are varying colors throughout different levels, but you will not notice rainbow-like colors on any stage in the game. Sammy Entertainment did a decent job in the graphical departments, but many things turn out of proportion and can frustrate the in-game display.
Not once during the game did I feel any sign of excitement from the in-game music. Most of Amagon's music is comprised of singular songs, almost as if they only use one beat. You don't hear any exciting or action-packed songs, but instead they remind me of songs you would hear out of a bowling alley. With the cartoonish background themes, Amagon loses its appeal to most gamers within the first few minutes. Occasionally, you'll come across different titles for bosses, powerups, and level themes, but most of the songs seem outdated from a standpoint. As for sound effects, they're very horrible. Every blast of your gun sounds like someone belching in the distance. Punching and hitting things makes no distinguishing sound whatsoever. Even powerups don't make a ringing beep sound or anything. Without any vocal points to make Amagon an alarming game, most of your game time turns into a boring shooting experience.
This is the point where Amagon loses all of the quality and exciting gameplay features that go into most decent platform games. In case you didn't understand, most of Amagon's gameplay relies on jumping, and shooting enemies before they hit you. At the beginning of the game, you start out as a soldier navigating his way through the jungle armed with only a rifle and limited ammo. You can shoot one bullet at a time, and certain enemies take multiple shots to be taken out. Unfortunately, the game doesn't feature a special life bar, or energy bar to keep track of your life. Instead, if you get hit by an enemy, or hit by a projectile, you die. Not only is this frustrating in any game, but the fact that you're limited to three lives, and zero continues only makes it worse. Levels consist of multiple platforms, bottomless holes, and enemies that try to obstruct your way from proceeding to the final boss. Enemies can be strange at times. Often, you'll face jumping mushrooms, flying birds, fire-spitting snakes, and weird jumbled sprites. Rather than making Amagon feel like an action packed sequence, it almost turns into a graveyard for the dead organic experiments. Never do we see mushrooms jumping around like cats in a street alley.
What makes the gameplay aspect of Amagon frustrating is the controls. By far, controls are absolutely horrendous and have very little sensitivity. Jumps are very difficult, as gravity is very strict, and pulls you down quite fast. In order to make a higher jump, you must hold the jump button down longer. If you just tap the button expecting to jump over a hole, you'll end up at the bottom of the hole with your head split open. Shooting your gun is unreactive at times, and may not shoot when you press the button. Rate of fire is limited, and this can be a problem when you're getting swarmed by enemies off and on the screen. Tedious platform jumping becomes a problem later in the game, especially when you have to jump AND shoot at the same time. A special ability in the game is similar to that of Altered Beast, and other ''Hulk-like'' games. If you pick up a special powerup, you can press select and end up morphing into a big muscle bound version of Amagon. While this sounds exciting, it really isn't. First off, the muscle beefed version of Amagon has a life bar, and that bar is determined by points. By killing enemies, you are rewarded with point powerups. Thus, if you don't have a lot of points, then your morphing of Amagon is going to be limited. Secondly, all you can do is punch, or use a special laser attack (which knocks off a life bar if used). Most of the strategy elements are thrown out the window when you morph because your attack is overpowering, and collision detection is way out of whack.
Not only that, but boss battles become nothing more than a sledge match. You simply bash away at the attack button until he dies - all of the avoiding projectiles and smart tactics get thrown out the window. As you can see, strategy is almost a joke in this side scrolling action game. Other problems range from constant enemy spawning. This means that enemies will keep flying onto the screen, even if you don't move an inch. Certain spots in levels are purposely designed for ambushes, such as birds rushing from both sides, and enemies attacking you while you jump. It's understandable that Sammy Entertainment was trying to make the game challenging, but they made it to a point where it became more of a frustration. There are also about 6+ levels, enough to keep gamers busy. Still, the gameplay department has way too many flaws to be considered a balanced game.
While it can be fun to shoot down crazed mushrooms on a deserted island, most people will not find Amagon to be an entertaining experience. If the gameplay system had been improved, maybe we would see a much better product in today's world. Amagon simply suffers from lacking gameplay, and a bad presentation which sends it on the downhill progression. It could have been a decent shooting game, with the ability to morph into a ''bigger-better'' person. However, the game is nothing more than a frustrating shooter with no mental output on using strategies. It can be a partially fun blasting game at times, but for the most part, this isn't the experience of a lifetime.
None of the key elements that make most action shooters exciting are present in Amagon. There are no changes in game mode, unless you count the ''morphed'' mode as one. Levels get repetitive, and truly only change based on backgrounds or different obstacles in the way. You cannot get better weapons, or impressive powerups, but are instead limited to a simple points system. Is this what most gamers want an action shooter to turn into? Heck no. Amagon provides nothing worthy of a thrilling experience, and even I'm sure that there are no flying mushrooms in the actual Amazon. With a lacking story, and only a single player game mode - Amagon turns nothing more than into a notepad to write over pieces of paper.
The main reason Amagon is a challenging game is not because of the actual in-game difficulty, but because of the lacking game elements. With simply poorly designed controls, gamers will be dying more often from pit falls than actual enemies. Enemies will contribute their part though. Flying onto screens when you least expect it, and shooting with no possible way of dodging. Boss battles are easy unless you don't have a Morph Man powerup. Basically, if you can't morph, you're screwed in a boss battle. Most people will never beat this game because of no continues, and three lives simply isn't enough to feed the babies off of.
Final Factor [3/10]
Perhaps if Sammy Entertainment put more effort into this game, it could have been a worthy underrated classic. Instead, Amagon is nothing more than a cheaply designed platforming game which offers nothing new in terms of gameplays or presentation. Lacking controls, horrible enemy AI, and just depressing gameplay all add up to make this a below average game. It's definitely not worth your time to search for, and it provides nothing to remember or awe over. Even if you do happen to see this game somewhere, don't consider it as an option. Amagon is not a rare game, and it provides no true gameplay value. It's best to leave this rot in the Amazon jungle, than pick it up and play.
Rating: 1.5 - Bad
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