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Cybernator (SNES) artwork

Cybernator (SNES) review

"The drama! The excitement! The space opera! The exact opposite of Target Earth!"

The Reworking

Three years after the brutally difficult Target Earth (Assault Suits Leynos) for the Sega Genesis, NCS would give us another Assault Suits title, Cybernator (Assault Suits Valken), for the SNES. What we wound up receiving was something so drastically different and improved, that it's really hard to fathom the two games are connected at all. Target Earth is such an annoyingly tough game thanks to its legion of random enemies that can easily destroy your assault suit within seconds, made even more irritating with its lack of checkpoints and only two continues. Hilariously, TE encourages the use of strategy, which is almost impossible to do in a game based mostly on luck. Cybernator rectifies this problem by simplifying things, which, ironically, turns it into a real, challenging title that's actually fun to play.

What did they do? NCS vanquished the use of enemies appearing at random, included checkpoints, and gave your mech an indestructible shield.

"But doesn't that make the game super easy?!"

Yes and no, Imaginary Screamer Guy.

It's easy in that it makes Cybernator much more flexible than its predecessor, nearly eliminating cheap deaths altogether. The game is still challenging, though, as various enemy assault suits, turrets, and other mechanized terrors can pound your suit into submissive death if you're not careful. Doubly so in the later stages. You'll need to use all the abilities of your mech to even make it to the end: jump over bullet fire, dash past heat-seeking containers that explode on impact, and use that mighty shield to block against projectiles that are otherwise impossible to dodge. Another deciding factor in your trek towards victory is the management of upgrading your small, albeit deadly, arsenal of weapons throughout Cybernator. "P" icons can occasionally be found in each stage, and it's up to you on the order in which you want to upgrade your weapons. Want a solid, default machine gun? How about a powerful melee attack? Or maybe you want to beef up a laser rifle that you find lying around mid-way through the game?

While Cybernator is already a superior product over Target Earth with these changes, it doesn't stop there. Where Target Earth felt like an expedition through hell, Cybernator is like a journey into the depths of awesomeness.

The game starts off with a literal bang, as you witness a battleship crash headfirst into a space colony in an attempt to defuse a threat. As it comes to a stop, several assault suits launch off the ship, yours included, which are then propelled into the colony, protected by an army of turrets and mechs. Here, you'll immediately notice how detailed this title is, as you watch your mech walk forward with smooth animation, gaze upon the giant turrets that look threatening thanks to its armor, and marvel at the sight of your surroundings being damaged and ripped apart as your bullets ricochet off metal.

However, Cybernator offers much more than simply wreaking havoc in one colony. In the following level, you'll be forced to fly through an asteroid field at full speed, while dodging and fighting an onslaught of mechs, missiles, and other projectiles. This particular moment looks great due to its use of coloring and lighting, especially with a giant space rock in the background giving off a pretty, ominous glow. Another mission simply starts off with your avatar trying to find its way into a base floating above earth's orbit. It quickly turns into a race against time when its inhabitants, in classic Gundam fashion, decide to slam the base into the planet. You'll watch various escape pods make their exit, and then pick off the valiant soldiers, fighting on foot, as they attempt to delay your approach towards the engines. Eventually, you'll find yourself outside again, except you're now burning through the atmosphere, and a giant, raging mech is blocking access to the base's engines.

The drama! The excitement! The space opera!

The exact opposite of Target Earth!

Those are just the starting stages, too! Cybernator continues its epic ride in the following levels on earth, starting with a thrilling reentry segment, and delivering many defining moments that I dare not spoil. It's an experience that you simply need to revel in; words alone can only do so much convincing. Buy the original SNES cart, or download it on your Wii! It's a wonderful successor to an abysmal Genesis game and works just as well as a solid, standalone title. Hell, it's such a fantastic game, that its influence can easily be seen in two other SFC/SNES titles that were released later: Square's Front Mission: Gun Hazard and LucasArts' Metal Warriors.

You know you've done something right when you have two big companies taking inspiration from the little assault suit that could.


pickhut's avatar
Featured community review by pickhut (March 31, 2011)

Gomu Gomu no Bō...

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Masters posted March 31, 2011:

Nice review, dude. I always meant to check this game out.
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pickhut posted March 31, 2011:

Thanks, Masters. And if you ever do play the game, don't let the first stage turn you away. I don't find anything wrong with it, but I notice it seems to turn people off on playing it any further.
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SamildanachEmrys posted June 28, 2011:

I loved Cybernator. It was tough but awesome. Thanks to a tip in the review I read before I bought it, I usually got the napalm gun at the end of the first level. Even that never enabled me to finish it though. Those last levels are hard.

Anyway, good review. I think you do the game justice.
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pickhut posted June 28, 2011:

Appreciate the read, SE. Yeah, the last levels can be a challenge.

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