Raffaele Cecco, author of Exolon and the original Cybernoid, proudly presents yet another "blast and think" game to keep you frustrated at your keyboard for hours on end. In Cybernoid (reviewed AA32: 91%) a bunch of real nasty pirates were stealing gear and generally being dead unpleasant all over the place. As you will no doubt recall, however (ahem), you eventually managed to thwart their wicked plans. But now - surprise, surprise! - they're back with a bang and up to the same old stuff again. Your ship has been redesigned and equipped with even more weapons to blast the baddies. Go geddem!
If you're familiar with Cybernoid, you'll instantly feel at home with the sequel. Screen layout is identical: a status panel across the top and a flick-screen playing area covering the rest. In the status panel there are four boxes, each one containing different information: lives, score, weapons and time. At the start of play you have four lives and bonuses are awarded as you progress. The score box is split into two: a normal score and cargo. Cargo points are only added to your score at the end of a stage.
Your objective is to collect as much cargo as possible, blast the pirates and get to the end of the stage. Do all those and you get lots of bonus points, and get to try your hand at the next series of interconnecting screens. Cybernoid had some very nasty timing problems and you'll be happy (or miserable) to know that there are plenty in the sequel too.
In some locations, and also when some of the pirates are blasted, extra weapons are dropped that can be strapped onto your ship. You can have rear firing guns, an orbiting ship to fire with you and a dirty great ball to bash things with. Your ship is armed with a laser and there are also seven other weapons that you can use by pressing the appropriate numeric key. They are: bombs, time bombs, shields, bouncing bombs, seekers, smart bomb and tracers.
Bombs travel forwards and either move down or up in an arc depending which way your ship is moving. Time bombs can be deposited behind you to catch anything that follows closely and bouncing bombs fly all over the screen annihilating anything they hit. On some of those really nasty screens, you can activate some shields for temporary invulnerability to everything. Seekers are intelligent missiles that never miss their target, but they only go for static targets and ignore the pirates. A smart bomb destroys everything on screen and tracers run around the edge of the screen bumping into pirates and killing them in the process.
Unfortunately you have only a limited supply of each type of weapon, but bonus ones can be picked up by collecting some of the pirate cargoes. All weapons are replenished when a life is lost, but strap-on weapons are destroyed.
The pirate defences come in many shapes and sizes: bouncing aliens, caterpillars, space ships, gun batteries, missiles... Bouncing aliens and their horizontal counterparts come in pairs. They can't be destroyed and so, unless you're willing to use up a valuable shield, you'll have to work out the timing to get past them. Caterpillars travel around the screen and are likewise indestructible. The pirates in their space ships fire at you or collide, though a burst of laser fire eradicates them. Missiles stick to the floor or ceiling and launch when you pass over them. Gun batteries are shielded and so you must hit when they're firing at you or shots just bounce off.
To Raffaele Cecco's credit, the graphics are up to the usual high standard of all his games. Some sprites occasionally erase each other, but other than that they're flicker-free, colourful and very detailed. Sound effects are excellent too, as is the continuous tune. The gameplay is just as addictive and frustrating as in Cybernoid.
Cybernoid II is a fine, fierce, fun game. If there is a criticism, it's that it lacks startling originality. We covered the subject of sequels in AA a couple of months back, and this is an excellent example of a sequel that is not sufficiently different. Cecco's work goes from strength to strength, but what would really provide the icing on the cake would be something of stupendous unexpectedness. How about it, Raffaele?
Complete stage one.
Brilliant! Why? Simply because of the frenetic and totally outrageous gameplay: your fingers go from the keyboard to the joystick and back without going through intervening points. At least, they have to if you're going to beat it. Drop everything else and get this!
P. Up to the high quality stuff you expect from R.C.
P. Bright, colourful and flicker free.
P. Brilliant tune plays throughout.
P. Sound effects are just as good.
Grab Factor 93%
P. Frustratingly addictive..
N. But a touch too frustrating at first.
Staying Power 89%
P. Plenty of screens to puzzle and blast your way through.
N. Once you've done it you probably won't come back.
P. A very good game - perhaps a little too similar to Cybernoid?
Cecco first made his mark on the CPC with Equinox way back in issue AA10. It was Raved, with a very respectable rating of 83% and a high graphics score of 87%.
Cecco's second game, Exolon, went one step further and was Mastergame in AA24. The graphics in Exolon were a substantial improvement on Equinox and gameplay was even better. Put simply, Exolon consisted of loads of screens with a wide variety of hazards to avoid or destroy. Extra gadgets could be found and collected to give you a better chance of reaching the end of the level.
The next step was Cybernoid, also a Mastergame (AA32). It played similarly to Exolon but had many more extras to strap on your ship. Precise timing was required to negotiate some of the hazards and rather than always moving to the the right as you did in Exolon the other two dimensions of up and down were used too.
Bombs: Twenty are initially loaded onto your ship. Use: to destroy missiles and heavy gun emplacements.
Time Bombs: When dropped out of the back of your ship they wait for a few seconds and then blow up, destroying anything nearby. You have ten time bombs.
Defence Shield: Gives total invulnerability to everything - for a short while. Useful for negotiating narrow gaps occupied by indestructible aliens or caterpillars. Note: only one defence shield is fitted to the ship.
Bouncing Bombs: Some screens have blocks that must be destroyed and can't easily be hit. Bouncing bombs throw out four blobs that go all over the place destroying whatever they hit. Four sets fitted.
Seekers: Homing missiles that go for missiles and gun batteries, but never miss. Note: you have only five and care must be taken when you use them.
Smart: Aliens and gun emplacements go Kaboom when this goes off: but only one is installed on your ship.
Tracker: Two stored on board: they travel around the edge of the screen destroying whatever they hit.