Review by Dark Id
"Great fun...while it lasts."
Cybernator (or Assault Suits Valken) is a 3rd person, single player, 2-D, mech-shooter for the SNES.
Gameplay 9/10- Great, intense, action. Pretty much sums it up. Though some parts are a bit mindless. You pilot a large mecha suit through seven unique stages. Ranging from a space colony to a meteor field, to underground mines. All of the stages seem different from the other.
Your assault suit begins equipped with a weak machine gun and punch attack. The punch is nearly useless though, having limited range and weak power. You are able to power up your weapons, giving them more power, range, and abilities. Eventually you'll get other weapons, including missiles, a laser, and a few others.
The actual gameplay ranges from quite easy, to extremely frustrating. The big downside to dying, is that when you continue, your weapons are all back to weak default. Now, if your near the end of the stage or at a boss, this makes the fights much more difficult. There are a few parts where you can instantly die and with a limited number of continues, that's not a good thing.
Your assault suit moves rather slow, though it has a dash function. It also has limited flying capabilities. On some stages, you will be forced to fly forward while using a jet propulsion attachment. In other space oriented stages, you'll be able to float around freely. Weapon switching can be done at a push of a button, however it tends to scroll through too quick. Aiming is a bit of a chore, to semi-slowly move your weapon at an angle to hit your enemy. Still, it is great fun to just sit back and blast the hell out of everything that moves.
Story 8/10- The basic story is this: there is a war between two armies; the Axis and the Federation. They're dispute is over the depleted supply of fossil fuels on the Earth. The Federation (the side you're on) wants to share the fossil fuels between the Earth and its colonies. The Axis (the enemy, stationed on Earth) wants to keep the fossil fuels for the Earth to use alone.
You take control of an assault suit pilot named Jake, an soldier of the Federation. The story unfolds through in game dialogue and a autobiographical narrative by Jake at the beginning of each mission. The story is pretty interesting, though it feels like something out of Gundam. The story is dumbed down a bit for American players, though not much. A good story is something pretty rare in shooters.
Graphics 8/10- For being a very old game, Cybernator possesses some very nice and detailed graphics. Each level has a different feel than the last. The stages are well designed, and each has its own feel. From asteroid fields, space colonies, to barren battlefields. The areas are very detailed and appealing. Your mech is well animated and feels very organic in its movements. There are large explosions, tons of shooting, and no slowdown. Shooting the ground or walls leaves little dents in them. A nice detail.
There is an anime-style introduction and ending. Though there is limited animation in them, they look beautiful for an early SNES game. My only beef is that they removed the character portraits from the in-game dialogue. It helped flesh the game out, I'm disappointed they were omitted in the US release.
Music 6/10- Eh, I'm not much of a fan of the game's music. It's mostly techno or ambience for most stages. A bit too much of the music is reused for stages. A few stages just have noise with no real beat to them. Though some of the music is fast paced, and appropriate. Far too much of it is just easily forgettable.
Replayablility 6/10- The game's major shortcoming. You only need to go through the game twice. Once for each ending. There are two endings to the game; a good and a bad. There are no secrets to speak of. You can fail certain missions to change the story a little bit and land the bad ending, but that's about it. Too bad really.
To buy or to rent? Buy- Buy it if you can find it. This game is pretty unknown and fairly rare. But, if you see it at some second hand store or a garage sale, buy it. It's worth an afternoon of fun.
Overall 8/10- Though having little replay value and a semi-short length, Cybernator is a action packed little game that's have you hooked the whole way through.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/02/02, Updated 10/08/02
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