Major Mayhem is a man of action. When bad things go down, he’s the one you call, and that’s just what the eponymous game’s unnamed President of the United States (who looks closer to Emperor Palpatine than Obama) does when the Dogs of War stir up trouble in the tropics… with ninjas. Oh, and they’ve kidnapped the Major’s girlfriend, too.
As near as we can tell, despite being an Adult Swim game, this download has nothing to do with anything in their television lineup. Unfortunately, that means a lot of the humor one might expect from one of their late-night animated offerings isn’t present, either. We think the girlfriend thing might be meant as a gag of sorts, but we really aren’t sure.
Regardless, Major wastes no time in leaving the President’s office and grabbing the nearest chopper to head out into the field. Once there, he makes his way through 15 areas, taking cover and shooting at ninjas who are using huts, rocks, elephants, and so on as their own cover as they hurl ninja stars at you.
Pew pew pew pew.
Before we go on, we must ask: are you familiar with the ‘Inverse Law of Ninja,’ also known as ‘Conservation of Ninjutsu?’ The gist of it is this: A lone ninja warrior is a total badass of the highest order, but the more ninja you have, the weaker they become. This law is put into action here, as the lone Major Mayhem confronts wave after wave of ninja, who as a collective force pose him little threat. They throw shuriken aplenty, but it’s only those with a red aura do you need to worry about hitting you.
With that said, combat is easy, as you simply touch a ninja (or anything else) to pop up from behind your cover and shoot it. In addition to Mayhem’s standard-issue pistol, you can also acquire other weapons, including a rapid-firing machine gun (great for just dragging your finger around the screen to mow down the enemy), a shotgun (with a wider hit radius), and our personal favorite, the rocket launcher. It’s slow, but the powerful explosions are worth it.
And the best part? You don’t have to worry about running out of ammo, so tap away for the best time and the best score. Just be careful not to hit the captured scientists, who fly away with jetpacks upon the defeat of their captors.
Neo, you are the chosen one.
Major Mayhem can take two hits before one final shot lays him out. This is displayed in a way reminiscent of Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins, as the first hit relieves him of his helmet, and the second his shirt. Manly as it is to go forth sans shirt, it remains in your best interest to free the scientists, who will leave items which replenish one level of armor (and bonus points if you’re maxed out).
Every now and then, the action picks up in ‘run ‘˜n gun’ segments. Major Mayhem moves automatically while you attack enemies in the background, and jump (with an onscreen button or touch of two fingers to the screen) to avoid incoming shots and obstacles. Unfortunately, it’s a little tricky to jump and shoot precisely. Since these are sort of like life-or-death bonus rounds, it’s better to focus on survival.
As the game progresses, things switch up a bit. Moving past the Tropics leads you to a mission in Metropolis. Superman isn’t around, so it’s up to you to save the day, but instead of ninja, you’re now facing men in suits with guns of their own. And from there, it’s on to the desert, where you face… well, let’s just say they look like caricatures of the people the men and women of our armed forces have spent the past decade facing.
Major Mayhem is simple, but a lot of fun. It may not evoke the laughs one might expect of its branding, but it does bring back memories of such games as Lethal Enforcers and Virtua Cop, or even more recent fare such as the Resident Evil Chronicles games for the Wii, though without being quite as serious as any of those. If you’re looking for a good action game on the iPhone that removes all the fuss of more traditional game controls, then this is the game for you.