Mega Lo Mania is a real-time strategy computer game developed by Sensible Software. It was released for the Amiga in 1991, and ported for a variety of other platforms. It was released as Tyrants: Fight Through Time in North America.
A new planet is being formed in the orb at the top of the cosmos. This would be an exciting time by itself, but this planet hosts intelligent life, and every civilization must have a god to oversee it. Would-be rulers come from all directions to wage war through the planet's history.
The object of the game is to conquer 28 islands, divided into nine Epochs that span the history of mankind. The player must take on the role of one of four Gods: Scarlet (Red), Oberon (Yellow), Caesar (Green) or Madcap (Blue). As their God, the player must lead his or her people by instructing them to do a number of different tasks such as create buildings, design weapons, mine for elements or form an army. The ultimate aim is to defeat all the other Gods by destroying their towers and their people.
There are multiple sectors on each island, and multiple islands spanning different Epochs. Islands are divided into sectors. Islands in this game can have anywhere between two and sixteen sectors on a four by four grid. Some islands are small enough to only allow two different Gods to play against each other, while others are strategically designed for various gameplay scenarios, such as islands that are not connected, requiring flight in the form of jetplanes or biplanes for armies to attack each other. Each sector can be either empty, or be occupied by a particular people. Although the player cannot see before they occupy a sector, each has different types of minerals and elements available to it that can put the occupier at an advantage or disadvantage.
Epochs determine the base technology level that each group of people begin with. For example, in the First Epoch, the starting technology level is equal to that of 9500 BC, meaning that each starting tower resembles a dwelling of a caveman. In each Epoch (except the final Epoch) there are three islands and each must be conquered before proceeding to the next. The player may use research to develop along the technology tree, eventually increasing in epoch. In each Epoch, the player selects an island, then allocates a number of men to place onto that island from a starting pool of 100 men (any unused men will carry over to the next Epoch and be added to a new pool of 100 additional men). Each God playing the island then chooses a starting sector. Once the game starts, the player allocates men to various tasks:
Nuclear weapons of AD 1980 follow special rules. A single nuke irrevocably destroys a sector. The defensive weapon of that era is the nuclear deterrent, a nuke that does nothing to save its sector, but is automatically launched at the attacker. The defensive weapon of AD 2001 is the laser turret, which both shoots at ground forces and automatically overheats and self-destructs to shoot down a nuke. All are unmanned.
- Do nothing: Men that have not been assigned will automatically forage for the simplest elements and procreate. (The Amiga and Mega Drive manuals note that there are (unseen) women in the tower too; the Genesis Tyrants manual states that the men are very clever and miraculously clone themselves.)
- Construct buildings: Men can be assigned to construct a mine, factory or a laboratory when they become available. Towers may also be constructed by armies in empty sectors providing the player has not entered an alliance.
- Mine for elements: Most things more complex than sticks require mineral resources. Some may be available automatically through open-cast mining, and the rest are revealed with the construction of a mine. Mined elements are exhaustible. Elements are varied but functionally identical: an cannon may be constructed out of solarium and tedium in one sector, parasite and moron in another, and work the same.
- Create designs: Shields (to repair buildings), defenses and weapons must all be designed before they are used. Designs only become available when there are enough appropriate resources, thus improved designs appear once mining has taken place. Creating designs will also increase the technology level of the player, resulting in more resilient buildings, faster design speeds.
- Start production runs: Advanced designs must be built in a factory. Men can be assigned to produce a certain number of products or to keep production going indefinitely. Production ends when the required elements run out.
- Deploy defenses: Defensive weapons are far more powerful than army weapons, but their numbers are limited by a requirement to place them in turrets mounted on buildings.
- Deploy armies: Armies are created by assigning available weapons to men. Simple weapons are constructed automatically from available resources and require one man; others must first be produced at a factory and need several men to field. Expended elements cannot be refunded, but the weapons will return to stock if an army returns. In battle men mill about, suffering and inflicting casualties. They can only be commanded by moving them into an adjacent sector, causing heavy casualties if an army retreats from a battle, or into a tower. Men can also be deployed unarmed, but as they cannot damage enemy buildings this is only useful for constructing a new tower in another sector, as cannon fodder, or in desperation while defending a sector.
In addition, the player may undertake the following actions:
The final epoch has just one, square island: Mega-Lo-Mania. The rules here differ in that only one action is available – forming an army. Although you form the army as 'unarmed men', each man is in fact armed with laser pistols and the sole objective is to destroy every other tower and all other men on the island.
- Repair buildings: if shields have been created and are available, damaged buildings can be repaired. Sectors can also be shut down through this menu (see below).
- Check blueprints: The player may examine his current designs and the quantity of elements required to construct each. Designs can be trashed, leaving it available to be redesigned. This can be useful when new elements have been discovered, as the redesign may implement these new elements.
- Forge an alliance: in any map where there are two or three opposing gods, the player may attempt to ally with another team by clicking on the shield of their opponent. The computer controlled teams sometimes offer the player an alliance. Allied gods are not able to construct new towers in empty sectors.
The number of men available to the player on this island depends on the number of men shut down in previous epochs, although a bug in the ST version meant that the maximum was 999 – any more and the counter would loop back round from 0. Shutting down a sector can only be performed when the highest tech level (2001 AD) has been reached, sufficient men are in the tower, and there are at least some men outside your tower (so that you are not defeated immediately). Every man in the tower is then cryogenically frozen to be made available in the final battle.
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