Depressing Game Endings: M.U.S.H.A.

The Sega Genesis library boasts an estimated 47,000,000 shooters, and Compile’s M.U.S.H.A. is the best of them. It’s visually stunning even today, it's well-designed, and, of course, it's unfairly hard. From the fourth level onward, it’s a frantic battle for survival that all but forces you to exploit the game’s cheats to their fullest.

There’s even a nasty surprise after the game’s assumed final boss, as a recurring orange-and-black mecha swoops in to pelt you with one last flurry of lasers and homing fireballs.

And then it’s over. The M.U.S.H.A. mecha’s pilot, a young woman named Terri, limps out of the cockpit, and her nerve-flaying battles are finally at an end.

Well, not quite. Terri has only minor injuries, and the game assures us (with three exclamation points) that she’s just waiting for future adventures! Funny how Terri doesn’t really look like she’s waiting for future adventures, especially not any in the form of grueling, Compile-made shooters. She looks like she’s praying for merciful death to release her from the unending, robot-waged war in which she's trapped.

Or maybe she’s actually in rehab for a crippling heroin addiction, as the M.U.S.H.A. manual suggests.

Fortunately for Terri, Compile stopped making shooters around 1993, as the company landed a hit with the puzzle-game series Puyo Puyo and created little else until 2001's Zanac X Zanac. Then Compile folded. This denied the world many excellent shooters in the vein of M.U.S.H.A., but at least their mecha pilots were finally allowed to retire.

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