Developer(s): PolyMedia Communications Corp.
Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Released: 1994

Mega Maze is a puzzle game consisting of 75 stages, though each stage may contain one, two, or three discrete mazes. The goal for each maze is to move your ball from a starting point to an ending point, avoiding deadly obstacles on the way. Though the maze itself doesn’t appear to move, Mega Maze is really a video game version of the classic ball-in-a-maze toy, and when you push any direction on the d-pad, you should imagine you’re tilting the entire maze. This is important, as momentum is a big factor in many of the mazes, as are other balls (that will destroy you if you touch them) and small divots you can rest a ball in so it will stay fixed in one place during slight movements.

The first stage. You control the blue ball, and the purple balls are obstacles (though if you move all four purple balls safely to the goal ahead of you, you get a little extra fanfare at the end).

As the game progresses, more and more obstacles are introduced. Quick reflexes becomes as important (or sometimes more important) than understanding the optimal route to the maze’s end. You’ll need to deal with electrified barriers, infinitely regenerating opponent balls, laser guns, pits that can be briefly closed by rolling over certain buttons, exploding blocks, and more. The pits are among the most challenging to deal with, because they usually require you to roll an opponent ball onto the button, and then quickly try to roll your own ball over the temporary closure before it re-opens, while also avoiding crashing into the opponent ball itself.

Here you have to figure out how to get the opponent balls (upper-left) to crash through the electric barriers so that you can move your own ball through to the exit (upper-right). The tricky bit is that the barrier only stays down a couple seconds, and touching an opponent ball will also kill you.

You have three lives per level, which is fine for those that only have one maze, but for those with three mazes, it’s a headache, because you’ll return to maze one if you run out. Even after you’ve “solved” a maze, needing to repeat it in order to get another chance at the one you haven’t yet solved may take a couple minutes of slow, careful maneuvering to complete. Pressing a button on your gamepad resets the maze if you find yourself hopelessly stuck, but it also costs a life. Thankfully you get a fresh password at the completion of every level, so you can always feel like some forward progress is being made.

The orange blocks explode, the pits can only be closed by the opponent balls, and the laser guns will destroy anything that passes in front of them. And this is one of the easier stages.

There’s some music during the opening titles, but the rest of the game is in complete silence except for the sound effects you’ll get when you explode, or are hit by a laser, or fall down a pit (screaming all the way). Some music might’ve been nice, but if nothing else it’s a good podcast game. The graphics are functional — there’s no question as to what you’re looking at — though there’s only so much you can do to make a single-screen maze look interesting.

This is the level that made me stop playing. You have to get across five pits, each one triggered on the opposite side from where you are, and there are only four opponent balls. Even understanding precisely what needs to happen, actually doing it is too much of a headache to attempt.

The only true negative I can say for Mega Maze is that it consists of 150+ mazes, which may not be your cup of tea (it’s certainly not mine). The mazes are complicated and clever, and the mechanics work well, with the balls reacting exactly as you’d expect they would, but eventually you’ll probably get sick and tired of rolling balls through mazes. This happened to me around level 36. If, however, you simply love rolling balls through mazes, Mega Maze could happily occupy you for weeks on end.

Graphics – 7
Simple but clear; these are definitely mazes

Sound – 5
No music at all after the main titles, so most of the game is played in near silence

Gameplay – 8
The only input is tilting the maze itself with your d-pad, but it works perfectly

Value – 9
With 150+ unique mazes, you could spend many weeks with this game without running out of new content

Reviewer’s Tilt – 6
There’s probably no way to make a game that consists entirely of rolling a ball through various mazes exciting

Final Score – 7.1