Ah, the simple days of the SNES. And one of my favorite games for the SNES was Cybernator (Assault Suits Valken in Japan). I have no idea how they came up with the name (cybernetic terminator?), but I always hear Arnold's voice in my head every time I see the title (saibunaytuh. Oh Arnie, you're so wacky). The story of Jake, a Federation assault suit pilot in the war between the Axis and Federation forces over the few remaining resources on earth and territorial rights ZZZzzzzz....giant robot combat. Huh? Wha? That's right, I said giant robot combat. I remember how excited I was about this game being released, and to this day it still stands as one of my favorite games ever.
Since I'm bored (and since you're reading), I'll talk about some of the things that make this game worth a try.
1. Giant. Robot. Combat.
Got it? Moving on...
2. Choice and multiple endings
Cybernator was definitely one of the first, and probably the first game I ever played that didn't just have the one "congratulations!" ending. You were given a couple of choices during the game. "Do I destroy the gigantic robot jackass trying to squish me with his claw, or destroy the engines on this asteroid fortress to prevent it from plummeting to earth faster than Snow's rap career?" "Do I destroy the jet bikes constantly bombarding me, or the AA guns that are about to take out my ship?" Maybe not the hardest choices, but if you took too long to destroy your objective (hint, it's not
the enemy craft), you got the bad ending *sad face*. This blew my mind at the time, that there was not just the one ending.
3. Interesting environments
Cybernator had some pretty cool stages to fight through. From the interior of an enemy ship trying to assemble their energy cannon, to a zero gravity fight through an asteroid mining colony, complete with rocket-propelled flight through the asteroid field, to a ginormous enemy complex on an asteroid, to a battle during atmospheric reentry, to a rocket launch site, to a snowfield, to the enemy's capital city. The environments were pretty big, and although they were linear, there was some room for exploring. Speaking of environments...
4. Destructible environments
No, not tearing the entire complex apart like in today's games, but you could blow up fuel tanks, and if you shot the floors, it would cause damage. I remember going through the entire first stage, tearing up the place this way. It was pretty darn cool.
5. Did I mention giant robot combat?
6. Good boss fights
Now, not all of them are the best. The first stage's boss is just two guns hanging beside the power supply for the cannon that you're supposed to destroy. But there are some cool ones. Like the aforementioned giant boss on the asteroid complex trying to pound you into grease, a mano-a-mano with the enemy's best pilot in the middle of the game, and a race against the clock to shoot down an enemy missile before it seriously ruins everyone's day. And the game's final boss is one of the biggest bosses I've ever fought against, and he will eat your lunch if you're not ready for him.
7. Upgradeable weapons!
You start out with the Vulcan cannon and a pretty wimpy punch, but you can collect homing missiles and everyone's favorite, the laser of doom. You could only power up the weapon you had selected, and there weren't enough power ups in the game to upgrade more than two of your weapons all the way, as I remember it. The missiles didn't do enough damage, and as cool as the punch was, you would take way too much damage trying to get close enough to use it, so the obvious choices were the Vulcan Cannon (upgrade to bounce shots *rawk*), and the laser, which sliced through enemies like buttah. Nice. Your assault suit was even equipped with an arm-mounted shield to prevent your enemies from returning the favor. Speaking of weapons, by the way...
8. NAPALM GUN!!!
This is quite possibly one of the most overpowered weapons I've ever seen, and one of the easiest to acquire. To get it, you don't fire a single shot during the first mission until you reach the boss, and then only at the power supply. Stage 2: Fiery death. This weapon was ridiculous. The flames were bigger than your character, and destroyed almost every enemy with one shot. It's hard not to erupt into evil laughter as you march through every level, incinerating your foes as you are left unscathed.
This is, of course, not to say that the game is without its flaws. It is a fairly short game that can be played through in about an hour or so. In addition, they removed the portraits of the characters that appeared next to the text during conversations featured in the Japanese version, and changed some of the text itself. Whenever one of your allies dies, they shout "WOW!" Really? "WOW?" No screams or death moans? Oh well. Finally, one of my favorite scenes from the Japanese version was removed in the American version. In the final level, you corner the enemy president in his office, and he SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE RUTTING HEAD! Now, this was released before the ratings system, so of course Nintendo couldn't feature this scene in their game, but c'mon! That's just awesome!
So, that's it for my retrospective on Cybernator. It's definitely worth at least a single playthrough if you've never had the pleasure.