From the pages of the past! Ads of yesteryear – MegaMania

This bizarre, Space Invaders-like shooter came out in 1982 from Activision’s Steve Cartwright on the Atari 2600 and would later migrate its madness over to the 5200 and the Atari 8-bit computer. It was also one of the strangest shooters out there at the time.

Your ship resembled one of those Klingon battlecruisers from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but the enemies are probably more at home in Kirk’s brain on a bad trip.

But, at least thematically, it had nothing to do with Star Trek, Star Wars, or anyone else’s idea of what was out there. This was a classic shooter where you, your score, and a quick trigger finger were all that was needed to shoot down hamburgers, space dice, diamonds, flying irons, cookies, and even tires among other things falling from the top of the screen.

It had a twist or two to make things more interesting. An energy bar constantly depleted as you battled, replenishing only when you destroyed the current wave. You had a limited number of “blasters” but extras would be awarded every 10,000 points for a maximum of six in reserve. Enemies had whacky patterns and would looping in back from either the sides or the top as they passed the edges. And if you hit 45,000 points, took a pic, and mailed it to Activision, you’d get an “official MegaManiac emblem”. Cartwright even had his own page in the manual dropping tips for success.

This was a pretty tough game predating 1986’s Parodius from Konami for its weirdness factor by a few years. But if you were a gamer and were hungry for something a little “different”, even if it were only the enemies, you really couldn’t go too wrong with MegaMania.

MegaMania ad 1983

You can feel the struggle in how artist was trying to figure out just what Cartwright’s game was supposed to be, though there was no water and you didn’t fight waves while riding a joystick. But don’t worry. The bow ties and space dice made up for that.


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