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Retro Review: Cybernator

I didn't have many SNES games growing up. For the longest time, I had to go over to a friend's house if I wanted to play anything from the 16-bit era. Then one day, I got a SNES of my own along with a small handful of games. One of those games was the surprisingly good, but frustratingly difficult Cybernator which is not to be confused with the 1991 film of the same name.

Developed by NCS Corp and released in the United States on April 4, 1993, Cybernator is a run and gun platformer in the Assault Suit series. You play as Jake Brain, a United States marine who pilots one of the aforementioned assault suits. His platoon is tasked by the Federation with locating and destroying the Bildvord, a massive war mech built by Axis, the government opposing them in a massive war for control of the Earth's remaining fossil fuels.

The controls for the game are fairly simple, but also complex enough to require a fair amount of skill to be good at it. B is Jump, Y is Shoot, A is Dash and X cycles through your weapons. Holding L locks the position of your gun in place so you can move without readjusting your aim. Hold R to use your shield and this is quite critical to know as your shield can block almost everything in front of you. If this control scheme doesn't suit you just right, you can change the controls in the options from the title screen.

Now the game is actually pretty difficult, as most games from that era were. You are given a limited amount of life, and health pickups are few and far between, and if that wasn't hard enough, you have only have one life and three continues to work with making the challenge exceptionally high. Not all is lost though as there are ways to improve your chances of winning. Hidden in a couple of levels are two fairly powerful weapons, the Missiles and the Laser. The Missiles are strong and have a bit of knock-back, but what makes it shine is its auto-targeting feature. Don't use it too much though, unlike the other weapons, the Missiles have limited ammunition. The Laser is much different. It fires a single unrelenting beam that deals moderate continuous damage as long as it's being fired. These weapons are much better than what you start with, so be sure to find them, but sometimes even finding better weapons isn't enough. Don't fret though, there is one more strategy to be employed.

Throughout the stages are red Power Chips which slowly increase the strength of your currently equipped weapon. With the exception of the Missiles, collect Power Chips to reduce the number of the weapon in use to zero to upgrade its strength and range. This will make it fairly easier to destroy the bosses found in the levels, many of which actually have an unseen time limit that will alter the way the story will play out should you happen to fail. Failing too many times will actually change the outcome at the end of the game, so if you want the good ending, don't let that happen.

All in all, while the game is hard, it is also very rewarding. Since the controls are tight and responsive, it is YOUR fault if you mess up, not the game's. Its music also gives the game a sense of actual accomplishment if you happen to do well. I personally felt very pleased with myself when I finally beat the game almost fifteen years after getting it as a child. So, if you want a difficult but rewarding game with tight controls and badass music, then Cybernator is your game. It is also available on the Wii's and Wii U's Virtual Console service. But until then, I'll be seeing you.


Edited by Gilgamesh


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