The first time I tried M.A.C.E., I thought it was the worst shooter I had ever played. After more time with M.A.C.E., I no longer believe it is as horrible as Saint on the Wii (a shooter not worth the $3 I paid for it), but M.A.C.E. is still not even slightly fun to play. Maybe I’m missing something; after all, developer EntwicklerX admits M.A.C.E. is inspired by shooters from the Amiga, a computer I never owned. Still, if M.A.C.E. is representative of what the Amiga offered, I’m glad the NES was my childhood console.
The stupid repetition of M.A.C.E. is a shame since it’s one of those shooters with robotic voice-overs (like the cheesy Gate of Thunder on TurboGrafx-16). A muffled robot voice saying “Bomb” as I pick up an extra explosive speaks to a very deep and geeky part of me that I must have been born with. Despite my affection for robot voice-overs (which people will hopefully not link to my recent mentioning of robot sex), I cannot recommend M.A.C.E. just to hear them. It’s also a shame that killing several things at once in M.A.C.E. sounds like a delightful fireworks show. That would’ve been great to hear in a good game. I didn’t like everything I heard, though. The music in M.A.C.E. doesn’t change for six stages, and the first track sounds like music from a bizarre porno starring astronauts. Doesn’t make me want to take off, if you know what I mean.
The deranged and repetitive music complements the gameplay. M.A.C.E. looks more advanced than Space Invaders or Asteroids, yet the gameplay is far less exciting. Your rapid fire in M.A.C.E. is, well, not very rapid, which sucks when you consider that any enemy takes at least two hits with standard firepower. I’ve never played such a slow shooter with a more modern look.
The power-up system in M.A.C.E. is seemingly random. Whereas I quickly learned how to get the power-ups in shooters ranging from Life Force to Blazing Lazers, I prayed for power-ups in M.A.C.E. When I did get power-ups, I was never impressed. The double shot is almost as worthless as the default single shot, and the more powerful fireball thing is SLOWER than your “rapid” fire. I remember being shocked when I finally got options (those little ships that fly beside you). That’s how stingy and strange this game is when it comes to power-ups.
Really, the only way to derive any semblance of pleasure from the gameplay is to get the options and keep the power-up that allows you to spray a few bullets at a time. The problem is that this approach feels incredibly standard as you limp (didn’t know ships could limp, did you?) through the monotonous stages. M.A.C.E. takes the Mario approach with stages. You have 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and so on. But unlike the original Super Mario Bros., 1-2 through 1-4 in M.A.C.E. is pretty much the same as 1-1, so I’m curious as to why the damn stages are considered separate in any way. The only difference is more enemies you either slowly avoid or blow to smithereens. 1-6 does have a boss, but that fight is another example of how boring M.A.C.E. is.
M.A.C.E. is challenging for all the wrong reasons. The very thought of lumbering through the game is intimidating from a standpoint of common sense. I stopped playing after getting into the second batch of stages. If it ain’t fun, don’t play it!