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Cyborg Hunter (Sega Master System) artwork

Cyborg Hunter (Sega Master System) review

"It's an average quality Metroid style platformer."

Cyborg Hunter is a side-scrolling action game that has a bit of missed potential. While it is decent, it's a bit bland and generic, compared to somewhat similar games of the era such as Metroid.

The events of the game take place in the far future. Paladin, the protagonist, is a bounty hunter who has infiltrated the evil Cyborg Fortress to kill the cyborg leader, Vipron. There isn't much exposition, but throughout the game Paladin's associate Adina sends transmissions to him with advice or directions. In the game's ending, there are also references to what might be other bounty hunters, named Trevor and Catherine, but curiously there is no mention of them in either the game or the manual. Perhaps they were mentioned in the Japanese version of the game.

One of the oddities of this game is its control scheme. Despite being an entirely single player game it requires two controllers to play. The first controller controls Paladin. He can move, jump, and either punch or shoot his guns. The second controller accesses a menu where he can change his equipment. Unlike in The Legend of Zelda, the start button on the first controller doesn't bring up a menu to change equipment. This makes it cumbersome to change weapons on a moment's notice and takes a bit of time to get a feel for it. In addition, the up button on the first controller drops a bomb, but it also enters elevators. Sometimes the player can drop a bomb when he means to enter an elevator.

On the surface the game has a lot in common with Metroid but most of the similarities are superficial. Paladin is a bounty hunter in blue power armor and goes through different areas connected by elevators to fight bosses, get equipment and unlock new passages. However the game is almost entirely linear even though it would appear the player has the option to go to different areas in any order. There are seven areas in order, labeled A through G, accessed through a hub level. It is best to play through each area in order, since most areas need equipment from the previous one. It is impossible to go through area B without the shield from area A, for example, and many of the later areas need keycards from earlier areas.

Each of the lettered areas consists of a rectangular grid of rooms, connected by elevators in certain places. In each area, the player must find new equipment, defeat certain enemies, and a boss if there is one. Enemies consist of two main types in each area. There is an easier type of enemy,called Lower Cyborgs, which are defeated with a few hits, and is colored red on the player's radar. There is also a much harder enemy, called Chief Cyborgs, colored in white on the radar. It is necessary to defeat each of an area's Chief Cyborgs to progress through the game. Most of these areas consist of long hallways with the occasional enemy. There aren't a lot of interesting obstacles for the most part, and almost no precision platforming. Some areas are dark and can be lit up with the light gun weapon. Since enemies are always visible and there are few obstacles, they might as well be lit up anyway.

The player has a life meter and a meter for “psycho power” which is used as ammunition for the psycho punch weapon, and later the psyche gun. Other weapons, including the other guns, don't require ammunition. Bombs, which can be found in a few places, damage all enemies on screen when used. The player also collects ID cards to unlock doors as well as a “jet engine” which lets Paladin hover in the air. The jet engine is mostly used to bypass a few traps here and there.

In general most of each area needs to be explored fully in order to defeat all Chief Cyborgs, the boss, and collect all of the equipment. Powerups giving extra life and psycho power are sparse, but they respawn when entering and leaving an elevator, so it is important to know exactly where they are. The game also has an odd difficulty curve. The first two areas and the boss in the third area is a little tricky, because the player either doesn't have a reliable ranged weapon or the player has relatively low health. After the first boss, the game becomes fairly easy until the last level, where the final boss has a ton of health.

The game features an excellent soundtrack, with a few high quality songs. The graphics are fairly impressive for its time as well. One oddity about the graphics is that while Paladin is in Cyborg Fortress to kill cyborgs, a few of the enemies don't appear to be robots or cyborgs. The second to last area has slime monsters.

Overall, Cyborg Hunter will probably take around an hour to complete, and lacks significant replay value. It is reasonably challenging and entertaining, but it really doesn't stand out in any way. Gamers who like old style action games should give this a try, but shouldn't expect anything innovative.


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Community review by Bouchart (September 18, 2017)

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