Megaland is a video-game inspired, press-your-luck / city-building game from Red Raven Games. If that sounds odd, think of Moonlighter or Mario Brothers meets Machi Koro. Read our review to see if this smash-up of game ideas works, or if it’s game over and no more quarters.
Megaland would be rated “E” for everyone or “E10” (Everyone 10 and up) at worst. Players face monsters and lose health, but no blood or gore.
Up first in Megaland is Phase 1, where players will face off against monsters and get loot. Players will commit to the next card, get their loot, play any jump tokens they want, then face the card. If it’s a monster and they didn’t or can’t jump over it, players lose hearts equal to the monster’s strength. Then the player can decide (if he’s still in it) to keep going, or stop and take his loot back to his city. Any players who lose their last heart “fall” off the level and lose any loot unless a city card helps prevent that.
Down in Phase 2, players take their loot and spend it on city cards or more heart tokens. Heart tokens cost an increasing number of matching loot cards, where city cards cost a number of different loot cards. For instance, if a player had two carrots, a stone, and a gear he could buy a 5th heart token and any city card worth 2.
Left after that is the nighttime phase, where players refresh their hearts and gain coins or other items from any city cards that have the crescent moon symbol. Play continues through these phases until a player gets to twenty coins.
Right away, the game feels like it has two separate parts, with the press-your-luck level running and the coin-earning city-building. But it works, in a Zelda II kind of way. The first few rounds of trying to earn treasure will likely go quickly, either from players “falling” or backing out, but once players start to see how the game rounds will go, things begin to click into place. For a PYL game, it lays things out for players quite well—each treasure has a number on it telling players how many of its kind there are in the treasure deck (this lets players hang on to a rarer card if they want) and the player cards indicate exactly how many of each kind of level card there are. If players are paying attention, they can count how many are left based on what they’ve faced.
Because phase 2 has players taking treasures and using them to acquire new buildings, I likened it to Machi Koro, but there isn’t any dice rolling. Another apt comparison might even be Dominion, since many of the buildings interact with each other or provide bonuses based on what players already have or don’t have. Savvy players will be able to capitalize on these combos by buying buildings in the most efficient order, and since there aren’t too many to choose from, the possible combinations would be easy to see after a game or two. Megaland also includes many more buildings than instructed to use, allowing for a large amount of replayability.
A legitimate concern for some would be the game’s lightness, or how un-complicated it is. I could see that being a problem for particular players if they were hoping for a thinky, long, taxing game, but I have no problem with it. Just because a game doesn’t take a half hour to set up and explain doesn’t make it less of a “Tabletop” game. I like complicated games too, but there are also times where I want to grab something quick and with a low setup time.
Starting a game of Megaland is quite easy, partially thanks to the dividers included in the box. Thanks to the Game Trayz insert, players could have everything out and ready in less time than it takes to shuffle the treasure deck. This is a huge plus, and far beyond the throwaway cardboard-trench-style insert.
Select a character, shuffle the treasure and level cards, pick the city cards you want this game, and you’re ready for a game of Megaland. And as an added bonus, everyone runs the level at the same time, which cuts down on players waiting and getting bored. If you’re looking for a light game with wide audience appeal, you could do a lot worse than Megaland.
The Bottom Line
In this family-friendly video-game inspired title, players will push their luck through levels in order to gain loot that they will later spend on upgrading their city. Cities generate coins, which will then help players win in Megaland. As long as no one at the table was hoping for Scythe or Twilight Imperium, Megaland should have near-universal appeal.