Cyber ​​Shadow Review. Guest from 1988

Cyber ​​Shadow  could have come out in 1988 and passed on the consoles of that time for “his”. The year was especially rich in successful platformers for the cult Nintendo Entertainment System:  Ghouls’ n Ghosts ,  Mega Man 2 ,HuniePop 2,   Super Mario Bros. 3  and even the original Ninja Gaiden. All of them, in one way or another, were inspired by the lone author hiding behind the name of Mechanical Head Studios.

The creator of Cyber ​​Shadow is AarneHunziker , and he devoted more than ten years of his life to his debut project. Aarne envisioned Cyber ​​Shadow as a “love letter” for 20th century platformers, almost all of whom he could quote without going beyond the limitations of an eight-bit cartridge. Moreover, the author was going to independently publish his indie game, but at some point the creators of Shovel Knight intervened , seeing a kindred spirit in Cyber ​​Shadow . Shook hands, Yacht Club Games and Mechanical Head Studios became partners, and everyone who had previously followed the adventures of a knight with a combat shovel learned about the augmented shinobi.

At Cyber Shadow lot in common with the last game Yacht Club Games is – it is demanding on the platform skills of the player is not suitable for casual gamers and fans of “grafona”, and at the same time looks like it was ported to the “Dandy”. It is important to understand that this is a specific and niche project for your audience. And this is a significant plus of the game: it does not try to charm a new audience and does not rush to please someone. In addition to convinced retro gamers who repeat like a mantra the phrase: “Schoolchildren will not understand” 

Shadow Blade 5eis really unlikely to be understood by young video game enthusiasts. Modern hardcore platformers still try to charm with graphics: whether it’s Bloodstained , Cuphead , Ori and the Will of the Wisps, or even Hollow Knight – they all try to make the visual part attractive to the widest possible audience. Cyber ​​Shadow relies on classic pixel art inspired by the early Sega Genesis  and SNES games. In recent years, games with such visuals have rarely been successful: only Shovel Knight , Celeste and Sonic Mania come to mind.

There is no more plot here than in any other old platformer. The world is invaded by synthetic life forms, and the last surviving member of the shinobi clan awakens to deal with the tyrant in the person of Dr. Progen, who has flooded the world with his cyborgs – just like Wiley in the Mega Man series ! But, unlike the terry classics, in Cyber ​​Shadow, diaries of the dead, laboratory terminals and other types of “notes” are scattered everywhere, from which we learn about the experiments of the villain even before we meet him in person. The corpses of heroes from the protagonist’s clan are scattered everywhere – so he can read the last thoughts of his fallen comrades-in-arms before death. The Shadow himself is the last surviving member of the clan that Progen exterminated.

At the same time, you will not find any new ideas in Cyber ​​Shadow – there are no bold visual experiments, as in Cuphead , rewinding time, as in Katana Zero , or the ability to switch between 2D and 3D, as in Super Paper Mario . In terms of gameplay mechanics Cyber ​​Shadow completely faithful to the asceticism of platformers of the 90s: the main character has a basic arsenal of attacks, which are gradually pumped after defeating bosses. The levels are linear, but thanks to the teleport system, we can return to previous stages, looking for secrets and using new abilities to get into previously inaccessible places. At a stretch, local checkpoints can be called an original element – they are rare, but the player is allowed to buy small improvements at spawn points for in-game currency. For example, restoring mana at a checkpoint, or getting an additional gadget-shield. But they won’t give you a choice, which gadget is tied to the point, and that one can be purchased.


The problem with Cyber ​​Shadow is being too traditional: you’ve probably already seen all these bosses in Contra ,  Strider and  Ninja Gaiden . Or other old-fashioned shooters. Unlike Shovel Knight , which has been developed by a F95Zonestudio , Cyber ​​Shadow has a lack of authorship. Each level, each boss, each episode evokes a strong deja vu, and we can say that Mechanical Head succeeded in quoting the classics, but at the same time did not fully reveal his own game – the author was too carried away by compiling other people’s ideas, events and situations. Therefore, Hunziker’s debut project is more like a fan work like Sonic Mania., which, despite the high quality of performance, is remembered for its incredible secondary. Alas, the sophisticated gamer has already tried all this.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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