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ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (PlayStation 4) artwork

ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (PlayStation 4) review


Before Metal Slug existed and became the defining Contra-inspired, impressively-animated action series for SNK's Neo-Geo hardware, there was Cyber-Lip. Here, in control of a blonde-haired, shades-wearing mercenary and, in co-op, a bald-headed, goatee badass, you've been tasked with stopping an android uprising in the distant future. Because in true video game fashion, all you need is two people, wielding big guns with unlimited ammo, to save humanity.

Initially dropped in the streets of "the old city of New York," an army of Terminator-esque combatants greet you with bullets from both sides of the screen, shooting from windows, and even from helicopters. As typical of the formula, you will need to blast and platform jump around these hordes, collecting additional limited firepower along the way, from flamethrowers to rapid-fire rifles. Press a little further into the calamity, and this mechanical assault will transition into body horror; the first boss is a towering, fleshy figure with a stretchy, demonic face coming out of its abdomen!

Unlike Metal Slug's outlandish, comedic take on Contra's one-hit death, side-scrolling template, Cyber-Lip takes a more direct nod, as can be seen with its sci-fi and Alien influences. There's even a later boss battle that can easily be mistaken for a Contra scene, due to its brown, organic lair, giant chestburster enemy, and baby insects rushing toward your protagonist. Though, if you're expecting something astounding from a gameplay perspective, the game won't impress with its simple interpretation of Contra and action titles in general. It pretty much goes through a checklist of things you would expect of the genre, from typical enemy run and attack patterns, weapon selection, and auto-scroll areas. The game does some neat little things, however, such as selecting floors in an elevator or grabbing onto ceilings, the latter predating Contra 3's mechanics by a few years.

If anything, the reason Cyber-Lip stuck out in its heyday would be its visual and audio presentation. It might not be obvious today, but back when the Neo-Geo first appeared in arcades, the hardware offered ear-piercing tracks and a vibrant array of colors with often huge, detailed sprites. Cyber-Lip, one of the Neo-Geo's early titles, was no exception. From ruined neighborhoods to otherworldly backdrops with weird alien mountain pods, gross bosses, and death animations that involved androids' melted skin to reveal exoskeletons, the game aimed to impress. It even has an onslaught of clear voice samples and dialogue cutscenes between stages.

Having said that, if you're looking for a basic action download for your PS4, one similar to Contra, there are several annoyances that can detract from the overall experience. Additional weaponry often feel like burdens more than advantages, such as hoping for the wave gun to reach the correct trajectory before someone kills you. The grenade power-up is also such a nuisance due to the high arch toss, rendering it borderline useless outside boss confrontations, thanks to enemies constantly running and shooting. You can switch weapons, but this presents another problem: your character has to completely stop shooting to switch, and even then, there's usually a slight pause. This is irritating in situations where you want the correct weapon, but can't because you're too busy fending off enemies with your current one...

Then there's the odd delay that occurs when you're firing a weapon in an upward position; sometimes you'll fire immediately, while other times the walk animation pushes you forward an inch or two before this happens. Frustrating when you're trying to make a precise shot and have to adjust again. This would be bearable if you had eight-way directional aiming, but you just have three and a half. You heard right: you can freely fire left, right, up... and kinda downward, the latter only being possible if you're hanging from a ceiling. Because sure, why not? These flaws are enough to make this genuinely annoying in an arcade atmosphere, as you constantly get killed over things that aren't even issues in similar titles. There are unlimited continues in the PS4 port, so it comes off as a minor inconvenience, but if you're trying for those hi-score trophies... good luck.

Back when this came out in 1990, Cyber-Lip was essentially SNK's version of Contra in the most straightforward way possible, gameplay-wise. Even then, it had controlling issues. Arcade goers and Neo-Geo console owners had to unknowingly wait six years to get a better, over-the-top clone. Now? Metal Slug and its many sequels are readily available in the PlayStation store. So that leaves you with this question: do you want to play a history lesson or a fun video game?


pickhut's avatar
Featured community review by pickhut (July 11, 2019)

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Masters posted July 18, 2019:

Nice review of a game I had mixed feelings about. I actually played it in the arcades, and so there's of course some fond, nostalgic feels for me, but I also revisited it recently, and I too, found it pretty generic, with imprecise controls. Like you said though, it's an interesting little stop in run-and-gun history.
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pickhut posted July 19, 2019:

Thanks for reading. It's weird thinking this was released in 1990. I somehow figured it came out a few years after, and that games like the first Gunforce came before it. Didn't realize my early 90s run-and-gun knowledge was so disjointed.

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