Inventive shmup MagMax is this week’s Arcade Archives release

A Blast from the Past

For this week’s Arcade Archives release, retro-publisher Hamster has reached into its big bag of ’80s hits and pulled out Nichibutsu’s sci-fi shmup MagMax, now available to download on Nintendo Switch.

Released in Japanese arcades back in 1985, before headed west some years later, MagMax is a horizontally scrolling shmup which – compared with many other examples of the genre – keeps the action fairly low to ground. Players begin each stage as a small hover-ship, taking on enemies and dodging obstacles in a dystopian cybernetic universe.

As each stage progresses, the player gathers extra components, transforming the vessel into a tank-like vehicle, and then a gun-toting android. Play alternates between surface-based mission and more traditional shmup action in a subterranean lair. This inventive blend of ship-building and two-level gameplay made MagMax a major hit on home computers in the late ’80s.

MagMax is available to purchase now on Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8. It has also been previously made available on PS4.

Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s. Former Saturday Night Slam Master. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors.