Fun and Wild Shoot’Em Up With Major Mayhem

Major Mayhem is a new action-packed arcade game from Adult Swim Games, who also developed Monsters Ate My Condo and the sublime Erasure-fest that is Robot Unicorn Attack.

Major Mayhem initially sees you running through the tropics shooting various baddies in fast-paced 3D scrolling action. The background story revolves around the good Major’s girlfriend being kidnapped so you need to help him rip through level after level of intense shooting action to get her back! Major Mayhem is a little on the brainless side, but undeniably fun and packed with Adult Swim’s trademark humour.


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Controlling Major Mayhem

If you strip away the glossy graphics, the weapons, the costumes, the ninjas, the hostages and the multiple achievements, Major Mayhem is actually a macho war version of duck hunt. The Major essentially runs through a side-scrolling environment, sometimes jumping — which you perform by tapping two fingers on the screen at once — until he reaches suitable cover. He then pops out to shoot the ninjas while doing his best to avoid their stars. Hiding is automatic but you come out whenever you press fire, and you simply tap on the ninjas to target them.

Frantic, non-stop gameplay

Frantic, non-stop gameplay

While the controls are ridiculously simple, the challenge lies in the fact that the ninjas do not sit still! Instead, they leap and somersault about all over the place to avoid your bullets. They sometimes wear hats, which work as a kind of shield so you’ll need to hit them twice. They occasionally fire red stars which cause you much more damage, so be sure to avoid those. Also look out for the rare appearances of the red ninja. Hit him for bonus points. Most shooting takes place when in stationary positions but sometimes you’ll need to shoot and run at the same time.

Extremely cool explosions

Extremely cool explosions

Another thing to watch out for is hostages, hit them and you lose points. You can also hit other things on the screen, such as chickens and some achievements require you to do so. At the end of each level you get a score and a ranking, in addition to boosting your level score. There are several levels to work through and these depend on things like shooting accuracy, time and combos. Just keep running until you reach your rescue chopper to finish the level.

Avoid killing the innocent hostages

Avoid killing the innocent hostages

It’s Actually a Freemium Game!

Yes, Major Mayhem, despite its well-produced brilliance, is completely free. It does however include optional in-app purchases. There is an in-game store — the Armoury — where you can buy new weapons, costumes and supplies. While these can help you somewhat, they are in no way essential, and you can easily earn plenty of coins for most items via normal play.

The armoury is available from the main menu or in between missions

The armoury is available from the main menu or in between missions

The game is actually a perfect example of how freemium games should be made. Many such titles only seem to let you get so far before in-app purchases become more or less mandatory if you want to progress in any way. This isn’t the case with Major Mayhem which allows you move through the levels based on your gameplay, rather than willingness to spend real money. The items you can buy seem more helpful and/or superficial rather than completely necessary.

Robocop-style power up

Robocop-style power up

In Numbers

In total there are 45 levels of madness where you barely get to stop for a breath. The game features 4 game modes which mix up gameplay nicely if you get bored. As you progress, you complete achievements and there are 100 of these to finish the game properly. 5 different power-ups add to the destruction and 20 different weapons are there for you to try out. Lastly, and for the absolute perfectionist, there are 150 additional mini-missions to complete throughout the game.

Visuals

The graphics in Major Mayhem are remarkably polished and smooth. They are styled more like a cartoon but rich with detail — just check out the way the colour changes during the dusk and night-time sequences. Many gorgeous animations also add up to the game’s charm when things explode, ninjas flip over and when you get a head shot. It is true arcade style madness, with lots going on all the time, but the whole game is wrapped in these rich and intricately designed graphics that vibrantly burst from the screen on every level.

Aside from the main gameplay, the lustrous visuals extend to the menus and beyond. Everything is perfectly produced and very user-friendly. It’s a little madcap in places, but if you’ve played Monsters Ate My Condo you’ll know what kind of bedlam to expect.

Sound and Music

In addition to the game being visually sublime, the sound too is perfect for the gamplay. There is typically macho and triumphant military-style soundtrack which pulses throughout it all. It’s very gung-ho, a little overblown and very “Team America”, but this goes well with the slightly tongue-in-cheek theme. All of it is further complimented by various sound effects — explosions, groans, shooting noises and so forth. Again, these are perfectly executed.

Run from section to section

Run from section to section

Major Problem?

The only issue I might have with the game is that it does become a little repetitive, you’re just running, jumping, hiding and shooting. It’s relentlessly packed with action, so you rarely have time to really stop and realise how similar each level is, but on reflection it’s very much a pure ‘arcade’ game in terms of simplistic gameplay. Therefore, if you require something a little more cerebral, you might want to look elsewhere.

It's brilliant fun, but a little mindless and can seem repetitive

It’s brilliant fun, but a little mindless and can seem repetitive

Adult Swim Games

Adult Swim is the online gaming resource and niche television station which doubles up with the Cartoon Network. It’s very cult in terms of popularity and the characters they showcase are often quirky but very cool. Their ‘gameography’ (is that even a word? It probably should be!) in the Google Play Store consists of three unique titles that are all highly addictive arcade games.

Killed In Action

Killed In Action

You have Major Mayhem, this daft but engaging shoot-em-up which clones the classic Duck Hunt but then adds lots of polish and playability. Monsters Ate My Condo is an insane arcade puzzler which rewards fast reactions and a responsive sense of logic. Finally, Robot Unicorn Attack sees you guiding a robot unicorn through a fantasy platform world by a series of charges and jumps… all to a catchy soundtrack by 80′s pop duo Erasure. All games are wonderfully crafted and quite innovative in many ways.

Mission complete screen

Mission complete screen

Conclusion

Major Mayhem is a free game so I have no hesitation in recommending you try it out. In fact, it’s in many ways far better than many games you have to pay for. While it’s essentially a ‘freemium’ title it never takes advantage of its addictiveness by suddenly demanding you pay out for upgrades. Instead it just lets you get on with playing the games and rewards shooting accuracy and combos.

This playability, combined with brilliant graphics and an excellent musical score, is very difficult to resist. Major Mayhem is easy to pick-up-and-play, addictive, challenging and pure, unadulterated fun throughout. If you want a quick-fire dose of blissed out shooting action, look no further.


Summary

Major Mayhem is a fast-paced shoot-em-up through various lush environments. Take out multiple baddies with accurate shots, rescue hostages and try out different weapons and power ups. It's frenetic, daft, addictive and insanely simple to play.

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