While I was in America, MegaLand released as a Target exclusive, with a Gen Con coupon discount. The odds I’d see this game in English again were slim, so that impulse button was thoroughly smashed. The game isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun and colorful experience that filled a hole in my collection that I didn’t know I had.
MegaLand is a family friendly experience. It has all the requirements needed to level the playing field, attract the younger crowd, and create an engaging experience that doesn’t feel silly or forced. The art is gorgeous, the theme is fun, but there is still enough depth to attract the experienced player.
The game works best with three or more players. I wouldn’t say that two players doesn’t work, but it isn’t as interesting an experience comparatively. It’ll play in about 45 – 60 minutes with roughly 10 minutes to explain the rules. The target audience is families, especially those with younger children (8+). But there is still enough game present to keep older or more experienced players interested.
Your goal in the game is to test your luck searching for treasure in the deep dark caves. You can leave anytime you like with the haul you’ve collected, but stay too long and you’ll lose everything.
“Wait,” you say, “that’s just Incan Gold.” And you wouldn’t be wrong. But whereas in Incan Gold the winner is the player with the most loot, here you’ll be spending your loot on health and special buildings.
See, MegaLand is more like the offspring of Incan Gold and Machi Koro. Once you’re done exploring you will need to bring back your loot to buy buildings that provide coins and special powers. The buildings will enhance your game giving you new options and some player interaction. The first player to 20 coins ends the game and whoever has the most coins wins.
There are a few flaws I have with the game, but when considering the target audience and the target market, the flaws can be overlooked. But of course, I’m still going to point them out.
The first flaw I find is the low player interaction. You simply don’t care about other players when you’re exploring. Normally in a push-your-luck game like this, everyone is watching that last lunatic going way too far. Each card you draw causes the air to still as the anticipation passes through every player. But in MegaLand it just isn’t as interesting. “Oh you’re still in? Sorry, I was thinking about what to buy.” Also, due to the deck size, staying and leaving is less about pushing your luck and more about playing the odds. You’ll always know the odds of surviving the next card, so there isn’t a huge surprise when you fail.
The other flaw is the end condition. There are a lot of great buildings, including a fair few that give you circumstantial bonuses. But the game ends too quick for you to really take advantage of them. Early game you buy cheap buildings just so you can store cards between rounds and buy the more expensive buildings later. Focus only on the twenty coins and you should do fine. I honestly wonder if it wouldn’t be a better game with a 30-coin goal.
Oh, and there is this jump mechanic that is completely underused and should probably just be removed, but that’s all I have to say about that.
But despite these flaws, I really enjoy the game. Maybe it’s the help of the aesthetics, but MegaLand is just fun. I kinda like always knowing the odds of succeeding in my exploration. It feels less random even if the excitement isn’t as high. And it’s never not funny to watch a greedy player get eaten by a giant snake.
Overall, the game is exactly as it sells itself to be: uncomplicated, family style fun. The exploration can cause sweaty anguish as you measure the odds against your position in the game. Finally affording that large building before anyone else is exciting. And it’s just so damn pretty.
I recommend this game for groups looking for a light, engaging game that is accessible for non-gamers and young children. It has enough different buildings to create a fresh experience each play, and enough depth to create a worthwhile experience.
If your group is more strategy oriented, it probably won’t scratch the itch you need. It’s just not as deep as you probably want it to be. You might still enjoy it for it’s aesthetics and lighter gameplay when the mood is right.