Saturday, 21 June 2014

Cyborg 009 (Mega CD)

So, it's a licenced game based on Shotaro Ishinomori's comic of the same name. But unlike most comic licenced games of the early 90s, rather than being aimed at kids, Cyborg 009's presentation seems to suggest that it's more at nostalgic adults. There's opening credits before the title screen, that, though they don't appear to be a direct recreation of the openings of either Cyborg 009 tv series that had been made at that point, do definitely invoke the feel of 1970s/late 60s Japanese sci-fi/action, and the options screen is styled like an old 1970s TV, with a knob that turns as you go up and down.

The game itself, however is pretty standard for a 90s licence game: it's a platform game where you shoot enemies and collect stuff. It's a pretty high quality one, though. It looks nice, the difficulty is pretty reasonably balanced and it has a nice little gimmick in 009's temporary super-speed ability. Pressing C makes 009 quickly dash forward at high speed, and starting from a few stages in, a fair bit of the level design is based around successfully using this ability in conjunction with jumping to get to higher or further away platforms than can be reached with normal jumps.

Your weapon for most of the game is a beam gun that can only be fired straight ahead, and can be powered up three times (though the only effect of the power ups is that the beam does more damage. Unfortunately, this leads to a (fairly mild) case of the Gradius slippery slope, especially when fighting bosses. Though all the bosses have fairly easy to learn attack patterns, you're still likely to take hits unless you have expertly-honed, lightning fast reflexes, and if you lose a life, you lose your powerups too, meaning that now you have to start the boss fight again, only this time you have to dodge for longer, giving you more chances to mess up. It's far from being the worse case of the problem I've ever seen, but it is a mild irritation. The worst part of it is that it renders the game's progress save option a little less useful, since that starts you at the beginning of the stage in which you saved with the default number of lives and no power-ups.

The game looks and sounds very nice, as previously mentioned, it's very much presented in a retro-Japanese style, but even ignoring that, the graphics are nicely drawn and colourful, and the music fits perfectly. One of the bosses even has a mildly impressive faux-3D effect going on in the background, though it doesn't really come across well in a still screenshot. There's also cutscenes between each stage, and though I'm not a fan of cutscenes as a concept, these are also nicely done. Unlike a lot of Mega CD cutscenes, they're almost full screen (with black borders at the top and bottom for a wide screen effect), as brightly coloured as the in-game graphics and not at all grainy. It seems that rather than using low quality FMV, the developers decided to go with a more extravagant version of the cutscenes seen in various cartridge-based games, like the Valis series or Ninja Gaiden. One little technical oddity though, is that if you're playing the game via an emulator, the voices will be out of sync, presumably due to the lack of loading times.

Cyborg 009 is a pretty fun game, I've never read or watched any version of the original story, so I can't vouch for how faithful an adaptation it is, but if you just want to play a decent Mega CD platformer, it's worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment