by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
A game made for me?
Before I begin, let me just say that it is an honor to have a game named after me. Seriously, I’ve been using MajorMayhem as my online handle ever since I received an Xbox 360 all those years ago. Finally, my tireless work in shooting up noobs, saving the world from great evil and enduring a host of missed notes in my rock band has been recognized by the gaming community. And for that, I thank you all.
…What’s that? This game isn’t named after me? It's actually about an American soldier who ventures off into an unknown country to both save the world and rescue his girlfriend from an evil army? And it's a side-scrolling shooter with tremendous amounts of customization and action? So it's just a coincidence that we share the same name then?
But I had a speech written out and everything!
Bring the action
Major Mayhem is essentially a light gun game without the physical gun that was originally released for iOS before being transferred over to the PC. It stars the titular Major, who is called upon by the President of the United States to stop a war in a tropical country while simultaneously rescuing his girlfriend from an army of ninjas. Along the way, you gain currency which can be used to purchase new weapons, apparel and various bonuses which will help you complete your mission.
What the game boils down to is essentially three actions in every level: see an enemy, shoot the enemy and occasionally dodge whatever projectiles are being used to try to kill you. If you get hit, you lose a piece of clothing, and if you get hit three times then the poor Major dies and you’ll have to restart the level from the beginning. It's very simple, as one would expect from what was originally a game for the iOS. Not that it is a bad thing. In fact, the ease of gameplay is rather charming, as it allows for experimentation when it comes to the game's many different weapons and abilities.
There are roughly 20 different weapons that can be purchased in Major Mayhem, including, but not limited to, submachine guns, shotguns and grenade launchers. Of course, in order to unlock them one must have both the coins you earn from beating levels and performing challenges as well as the appropriate rank, which is also earned from completing challenges. Again, it has a very mobile feel to it, and while I wish that it was easier to rank up in order to access weapons (Do you know how hard it is to shoot down a jet with a pistol?), the system works and encourages the player to repeat levels.
Over the top
Aesthetically, if you’ve ever watched old 80’s action flicks like Commando and Predator, than you know what kind of over the top style that Major Mayhem is going for. Of course, having it mixed in with graphical design that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon just serves to make it better. It's rather fun watching a miniature macho military man gun his way through a horde of ninjas, and the environments that he runs through, of which there are three, are similarly pleasing to the eye. One big complaint in this department however, is the very stilted and limited animations for the main character and the enemies. While the Major moves fluidly and looks great no matter what he does, he has a very small set of animations that he goes through. As for the enemies, they have limited to no movement at all beyond tilting side to side and moving forward without walking.
Limited yet charming
As I’ve brought up several times in this review, Major Mayhem was originally released as a mobile game several years ago. Now, while the game itself works fine and plays well, I can’t quite shake the feeling that the game feels somewhat constrained. It has four different game modes, though they are all quite similar, even using the exact same levels throughout. And the unlock system looks like the developers originally used a free-to-play model where the player could buy unlocks with actual money instead of the coins used in game, which doesn’t transfer well to the PC. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, it feels like the game is meant to be played in bursts, which is fine for five to ten minute trips on the subway on your phone, but less so when the player is sitting in front of their computer.
Major Mayhem is an entertaining little game that manages to charm despite its limitations. With a cute art style and simple yet effective gameplay, it remains a fun side-scroller.
Great art style, fun gameplay
Bad upgrade system, poor animations