Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Publisher: Sega Corporation
Developer: Sega Corporation
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
Being the toughest bounty hunter in the galaxy is no easy task but it’s a role you’re going to have to take on if you want to play the gaming diamond that is Cyborg Hunter. Climbing into the high-tech armour of Paladin you must head out into a massive fortress filled with mutants and cybernetic nightmares to take out their nefarious leader Vipron.
The moment I switched this game on I just felt deep within my joy glands that I was in for a blast. Believe me when I tell you, oh retro brothers and sisters, that this is Sega on fire, this is a gold gift from the gaming gods and it is a complete pleasure to be allowed to play it.
Starting off you are presented with what at first may appear to be a bit of an odd and slightly cluttered screen lay out but pretty soon you’ll be feeling mightily impressed by the whole shebang. At the bottom of the screen you have your main gaming window where you will control Paladin’s movements and take out the bad guys. Raise your eyes north-east and you’ll be greeted by your handy map that shows you the number of layers to the particular section you are in and all the lift shafts that are available to get you round it. Finally on your top left you have a rather impressive device that simulates a sort of first-person 3d readout that shows approaching enemies and their location. In a rather Aliens-esque manner this readout will also pulse quicker and quicker as you approach Cyborg generals. These more dangerous beasties, when compared with the little mutant runts you face with regularity, must be destroyed in order to unlock the door to your current location and there are usually about four or five of them dotted about the map.
All in all there are seven sectors that are divided by three locked doors and guess who’s holding the key to each of these doors? You got it, each one of these three zones is guarded over by a boss, the last being Virpon himself. In order to reach the big man himself you must locate a plethora of gadgets and weapons to aid you in your quest. Nearly straight off you’ll be contacted by your cohort, the tasty Adina, who will tell you what your first target is to be. Straight of you will be sent off to Sector A in search of shield that will help you get through the laser barriers that block your way into zone B, and the game continues in a similar fashion until you have retrieved jet packs, laser pistols, light guns and ever more powerful additions to your growing arsenal. It’s a truly organic process that is reminiscent of Metroid but pulled off with so much more panache and graphical flair. The levels are really well set out and each enemy has its own challenging little pattern that you must learn in order to progress to ultimate victory. On the downside it’s not the toughest or longest ride you’ll ever take but it is by far one of the best of the 8-bit era.
Graphically the game shines, the sprites are bold and cool looking, the first person read out at the top is highly useful and helps you to not only dodge and defeat your enemies but also to work lifts and progress through each sector. Each sector gradually gets more corrupt and difficult and the sectors that must be lit using your light gun add an extra element of tension and intrigue.
The sound is good and each sector has its own tune, and while they’re not the catchiest loops you’re ever likely to hear they are not intrusive or grating in any way and fit the theme well.
Controls have their down side but not in any fundamentally game breaking way or anything but it does have niggles. Firstly you’ll need two controllers to access your weapons and armour panel, not that bigger deal if you’ve got two pads but then again if you don’t then you’re a bit screwed. Secondly (and lastly, thankfully) is the fact that you will often drop a bomb when trying to access a door as you have to press up to perform both actions. This can be a pain but with caution you can avoid it.
So if you’re looking for a Master System game that’ll show you just what the system was capable off I’d highly recommend Cyborg Hunter. A great adventure that’s only problem is that it’s over far too soon.