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Cloud Master (Sega Master System) artwork

Cloud Master (Sega Master System) review


"Cloud Master has tepid and disposable written all over it, but its accessibility is its saving grace."



Cloud Master asset


Cloud Master has three things going for it right away, to help it stand out from the sea of horizontal shooters: it’s an 8-bit shooter (there aren’t many of those), it’s accessible (unlike most shoot-em-ups), and it’s weird (a boy on a cloud shooting down teacups and birds with men’s heads).

Nearly every horizontal shooter to come along has paid homage to an already existing and established shooter sub-genre. We have Pulstar of the R-Type ilk, while Gate of Thunder owes its existence to the Thunder Force series. Cloud Master, while it may not be evident at first, is bizarro Darius. Which doesn’t surprise us, as this game was developed by Hot B and Taito.



We’ll skip the instruction booklet premise, as we are wont to do, and get into the mechanics. Our young hero builds up his main weapon gradually, from a pea shooter to a spread pea shooter to a rapid fire stream, to the almighty wave weapon (which actually levels up further by having peas fire along with waves). There are five rounds--each featuring two mini-boss encounters. Each time you take one out, you are granted access to a little door that appears in the sky, where you can choose one of four auxiliary weapons to augment your main gun.


Equipped thusly, you can hold down both buttons and seriously blanket the screen with gunfire, a la Darius Twin. One of the auxiliary weapons, the one that looks like five miniature soldiers in red, actually functions exactly like the Darius four-way spread secondary weapon. In addition, there is a bouncing grenade weapon, a flame weapon that encircles you, and a blade-like weapon that simply adds to your straight-ahead firepower.

Ironically, where Cloud Master didn't rip off Darius, it outdoes the perennial franchise: Cloud Master uses restart points.

And that’s a BIG DEAL.

While the many modern day gamers hate this because it forces you back in the game (we hate repetition, waaaah!), it can help you to learn and appreciate the levels better, and more importantly, it allows you to build your arsenal back up after dying. Too many shooters share the same irritating trait whereby dying kills your chances at making inroads. Conversely, play those same games on a good day, and you won’t have much chance of dying at all behind overwhelmingly stacked power ups.

Cloud Master strikes a fine balance, if little else. It’s the only remarkable thing the game manages, but it’s an important thing.

The graphics are bland and lifeless, sporting subdued pastel backdrops. Yes, Cloud Master takes the word “pastels” and gets us to put the word “subdued” in the same sentence. The music is similarly colourless; at the worst of times, you don’t even realize it’s playing. At the best of times, it sounds like Kung Fu Master, which, admittedly, is a rather lovely compliment to be paid if you’re an SMS cart.

Pedestrian presentation aside, the genuine technical failing that shmuppers will have with Cloud Master is that your character is so large. It makes dodging sometimes a bit… dodgy. But you’ll probably only notice it when you get to the last boss, and the iffy collision detection conspires with your huge sprite to complicate matters. (A projectile might seem to skim the underside of your cloud, and kill you.)


All in all though, the five rounds will give you a fair challenge the first time through when you don’t know what’s what. Of course, once you do, you’ll find yourself clearing the game without dying, even while eating and sending BBM messages. It's a bit easy and a bit short, but a fun way to spend an hour or so, or maybe even a day. Cloud Master has tepid and disposable written all over it, but its accessibility is its saving grace.

Rating: 5/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (July 12, 2011)

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Masters posted July 13, 2011:

Wow, expert job with the screenshots and header, Gar. You do spruce up my work rather nicely. Gives you something to do while you're slumping. ;)
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EmP posted July 13, 2011:

Perhaps I'll stay in permi-slump, and just pimp up people's reviews FOREVER!

Cool review. I dub you Masters: The Master System Master.
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Masters posted July 13, 2011:

Thanks. And that's VERY clever.
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wolfqueen001 posted July 13, 2011:

Nice review. Seems like a potentially intriguing, if somewhat drab, game. (Yes, I know that sentence is contradictory... but I don't know how else to explain it. >_> )
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JoeTheDestroyer posted July 14, 2011:

Great review, Marc. I've always wondered about this game. The kid riding on the cloud conjured up too many bad memories of the NES Tom Sawyer, and that might be why I avoided it for so long.
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Masters posted July 14, 2011:

Thanks Leslie and Joe!
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overdrive posted July 14, 2011:

I seem to thin I liked this game a bit more, but I was playing the TG-16 version, which probably was a bit enhanced and I remember liking the somewhat goofy humor that went into some of the bosses (I think there was a smoking Buddha or something like that...too lazy to check my review where I think I'd mention something that awesome).

But I agree with the gist of the review. A kinda generic (once you get beyond any quirky visuals that may or may not be in that version) shooter where your character is a bit too large to reliably handle some portions of the game. I remember the first time I played it before I really sat down with it eventually. I was on the first level thinking the only difficulty at all at that stage of the game was simply that your character is so large that it's easy to get nipped by a bullet because the evasive tactics you'd use in most shmups aren't enough here.

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