Game Reviews

Megaplex Madness: Now Playing

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Megaplex Madness: Now Playing

People have been predicting the decline and fall of cinemas for years. Home viewing has been proclaimed as the death knell for multiplexes ever since the release of VHS.

They’re still around, though. Ultimately, you can’t beat the smell of popcorn, the sense of communal anticipation, and the outright widescreen assault on the senses that cinemas provide.

Megaplex Madness cashes in on this rose-tinted view, tasking you with resurrecting the fortunes of five downtrodden theatres.

Movie tie-in

This is done by means of a simple time-management game. You slowly build up each theatre by making repairs, hiring more staff, and installing and upgrading new facilities - all with the goal of making customers happy (or siphoning off their money, if you want to be cynical).

As customers enter the complex, their desires are registered as thought bubbles. They may just want to buy a ticket and see a film, which entails picking them up with a finger and depositing them at the box office and screen entrance accordingly.

Other customers require more attention. They might want to buy popcorn, use the toilet or play on the arcade machine – sometimes all of the above. Each step involves dropping them at the appropriate station and waiting for the service time bar to fill before moving them on to the next stage.

Now in colour

The challenge is in juggling multiple customers simultaneously. Leave any customer twiddling their thumbs for too long and they become unhappy, as signified by a diminishing five-heart system.

In truth, it’s pretty easy to keep tabs on everything, as the nature of the challenge doesn’t change much throughout. The inclusion of some playable retro arcade games keeps thing interesting (although they’re pretty throw-away), as do various score incentives.

Acing a level will get you a repair token, which helps you fix up the theatre. Elsewhere there’s a colour-coded system whereby if you drop customers onto a like-coloured kiosk you gain bonus points. These increase as you chain multiple pairings together.

Box office disappointment

It’s all surprisingly addictive, but a few issues blight the experience, the most surprising of which is a technical one. I suffered stuttering performance on a second-generation iPod touch, which is surprising given the game's simplicity and its rather plain 2D graphics.

The controls, too, are a little sluggish, frequently failing to recognise where you’re trying to drop a customer. This can be irritating when you’re in the thick of it, trying to juggle multiple tasks.

Megaplex Madness has a few good ideas going for it, and it’s a welcome departure from all the Diner Dash clones on the market. Yet it lacks challenge and variety, and is blighted by technical issues. If it were a film, I’d advise you to wait for it on DVD.

Megaplex Madness: Now Playing

Megaplex Madness is a fun take on the time management genre, but a lack of challenge and variety, as well as technical issues, make it difficult to see it through the credits
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.