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1988
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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46,47
David McCandless
Chris Bourne

Okay, take the best features from Manic Miner, Equinox, Zynaps and Exolon, plus a pinch of programming prowess (not forgetting the 'p' alliteration) and what do you get? Miner Willy Meets Some Aliens just As The Sun Crosses The Equator? No! You get Cybernoid - The Fighting Machine.

But what have you really got? At first butchers it seems just like another mass carnage of extraterrestrials game, but a long, lingering gawp ( and perhaps a play or three) will tell you that this is a game of reflex, of judgment and of strategy, that will keep the hardest of the hard game players (ie me), quiet for weeks.

Apparently the Massive Federation intergalactic storage depos (MFI to you), have been plundered by pirates. All the latest battle weaponry, minerals, jewels and ammo have been ripped off (definitely MFI!), leaving the Federation floundering in defencelessness. So who do they call? Yep, Cybernoid, who has five lives with which to deal with all the juicy planetary defence systems and pesky pirates (as well as the recurring 'p' alliterations). One word can sum up the graphics in this game: effervescent. From start to finish, each screen is strewn with bubbling and fizzing action: kaleidoscopic explosions, spinning pirates, stray laser beams, and some more explosions - the whole lot usually concentrating around your ship. The graphic design is very Equinox/Exolon-ish, but upgraded to complement this totally brilliant game.

As seems the trend these days with sci-fi games (Zynaps and Sidearms to name two), extra weapon add-ons suffuse this game. To obtain more weapons of destruction you must vaporise a likely looking pirate and collect any icon that may fall from its burnt-out shell. Features range from a windmilling CyberMace (the nuclear world's equivalent of the Tyson fist), a backfiring gun, and extra-weapons in the form of canisters. All are worth extra points. And why not?

But suddenly a fumbling reviewer accidently presses keys 1 to 5 and comes across six more types of weapon. Gosh! First of these options is BOMB - these flare up, blatting anything stupid enough to get in the way. Second are IMPACT MINES, which are subtle little circles that detonate any vagrant aliens Then there's the DEFENCE SHIELD, making you invulnerable for a spell. After that there's the BOUNCE BOMBS that make four mega-balls (cue Phil South jokes), boing all round screen with explosive effects. Last but by no means least, is SEEKER, a beautiful invention that has a fatal attraction (I've seen dat film, mate) for anything remotely alien. Holding down fire activates all these options, a gentle change from feverishly pumping down on the fire key.

All these features alone could make a game, but the real attraction doesn't come in the excellent graphics, fast gameplay or even the sheer variety of everything, but instead in the tactics and planning needed to pass each screen. As in Manic Miner (you've been wondering where the connection would come in, haven't you?), there is a select route or safe-area which you must find to leave the screen -and once you've left it there's no turning back, boi (to be said in a John Wayne voice). And it is the promise of ever more weird and wonderful screens that lures you on. Totally brilliant.

One thing I feel I must warn you about: never play this game in the presence of parents and volatile relatives, because, be most assured, Cybernoid will have you swearing till your tongue drops off and Eddie Murphy blushes. You have beer warned.

Now to get hacking. Hur-hur-hur! (Evil Hacker type chuckle.)

A new breed of game. Every adjective you can think of to sum up sheer excellence.

9/10
9/10
9/10
9/10
9/10

Screenshot Text

Aha! This screen is so cunning you could brush your teeth with it. Those little spitty things look dangerous (hint: they are dangerous). But the spaces between the green pillars are more inviting. And those two rockets - they seem harmless enough. Or are they?

Please note that your super-slick reviewer has acquired both a back-firing gun and a cybermace. Hip, or what? Now all he has to is blast his way through those balls (fnar), avoiding the snake squadron as it worms its way closer - oh, and then get the hell out!

Hmmmmm. Cybernoid must here be manoeuvred between those sliding aliens and must slot delicately into the gaps... or perhaps a shield might be useful here...?