Retrogaming – Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine (NES)


Another game with a name that you’d have to see to believe.  At least the instruction manual tells you who to blame – it’s the Federation who build this fancy spacecraft.

The game has 3 difficulties, I jumped right in to hard, I usually try to skip the “easy” beginner mode on games, I don’t mind sharp learning curves.

To start you take control of a space craft.  Though it’s the weirdest space craft I’ve ever seen.  It flies, or has rocket boosts, but apparently the gravity of the asteroids you’re fighting on is pretty heavy duty because you float back down to earth pretty quickly.  The enemies don’t seem to have any problems sticking to the roof – totally unfair, my space ship needs better technology.

The laser gun shoots straight forward, but you have to press for each burst.  It’s also totally ineffective against most of the aliens.  At least they don’t have useless laser guns that shoot back.  They stick to bubbles that are very dangerous and destructive.

You also have bombs – which seem to fly in the direction you are aiming the controls when you fire them.  They are also affected by gravity.  Heat seekers, which seek out none of the stuff you are actually trying to target, bouncing balls – which are the single most destructive weapon you possess.  You also carry an invincibility shield – why only one of these?  If I was building this ship it would be full of them.  Also there is some kind of genocidal charge that really only kills certain types of enemies – none of which Cybernoid - The Fighting Machine (USA)-3you actually want to destroy.  Lastly you can find the “Cybermace”, which is a small ball that circles your ship and destroys stuff.  It’s more useful than it sounds, and you can pick up two of them at a time.

You only have a certain number of lives (ships) to crash.  Everything you touch can kill you (basically).  There are hidden missile launchers that blast you out of nowhere, and even the elevator things kill you upon contact.  Interestingly, the coral and seaweed stuff, spikes, weird pipes, blocks – they’re all safe for the ship to contact.  Why the weird aliens have super powerful exoskeletons is never explained.

The rooms are pretty much all the same size.  You come in one way and have to find the way out.  The way out can be up, down, left or right.  It’s actually pretty well put together.  Most rooms require you to either fight enemies, or make your way through a puzzle – the puzzles usually involve these elevator things that SUCK and kill you, over and over and over.  Some rooms include both things that try to kill you and puzzles.

There is a time limit, but nothing happens when it gets all the way to 0, except apparently you don’t get bonus points when you move to the next level.  You can stick around and shoot aliens and they drop points and stuff for you to collect.  I didn’t do that for long, I got the impression you were supposed to move through as fast as possible.

The one thing that bothered me about the game, was the requirement to use certain weapons at certain times, and the only way to refill those weapons was to die and get a new ship.  There are lots of places where blocks prevent your exit, and they can only be destroyed with bombs, or with bouncing balls, or whatever.   That means if you do really well, you eventually get stuck and can’t progress without dying.  Not good game design.  I think it might be possible to stock up on weapons by killing baddies, but they’re never around when you need them.

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The second to last room in the game is nearly impossible.  You have to break through these green blocks which can only be broken by bouncing balls.  Meanwhile the green thing shoots bubbles at you, and you have to manouever through two elevator things that only have a single ship sized gap.  I died in here, a lot.  A LOT a lot.  It was specifically designed to punish you for doing well at the game, I know it.

Anyway, after you get through there it’s basically a straight shot to the exit – through more green blocks and another elevator thing – DAMNIT.

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It took me a minute after I got in the elevator on the third level to figure out what was going on.  I went down and landed on this ship held together by a giant screw.  I wasn’t sure what was up with that until the funny looking game over lady came on the com to tell me I’d finished the game.  Three levels?  Yeah that was actually plenty.

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Next time?  Call another pilot, thanks.  Or at least make me a ship that doesn’t blow up when it touches stuff.