We received a free review copy of Cyber Citizen Shockman for this review.
On Friday May 19th the Western world will finally get the chance to legally play the Japanese PC Engine game Kaizō Chōjin Shubibinman AKA Cyber Citizen Shockman! Originally developed by Masaya Games NCS, Cyber Citizen Shockman has been lovingly revived and ported to the PS4/5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X by Ratalaika Games and Shinyuden. The game will cost 5.99 in either Euros or Dollars.
Cyber Citizen Shockman tells the story of two Japanese android kids, Tasuke and Kyapiko, who can morph into the powerful Shockman forms thanks to their creator, Doc. They were given this ability to stop the Evul Group(Skull Force in the original Japanese) led by Doc's first creation Dark Skull. None of this is told to you in game but if you read Japanese you can read up on this in the Gallery's instruction booklet scans. Not telling you things is actually one of the main complaints I have with this game as the manual doesn't have a translation so you are left to try to figure things out yourself. Or you can use the gold you collect during gameplay to buy hints that are just things the game should have told you for free.
|Get used to seeing this dragon sprite...|
The gameplay is a hack and slash platformer with a few twists. One of those being the ability to purchase a beam weapon that allows you to fire a powerful blast that travels across the screen. The beam is even upgradeable with both a purchasable upgrade and an unlockable one. The drawback to the beam weapon is your inability to move as you charge it up. Both your armor and sword also have unlockable upgrades, allowing to take and give more damage. You will need both of these as the movement feels like you are always walking on ice so it takes a bit of time to learn how to time your jumps.
|Fully Explored Map|
The second twist the game has is the ability to tackle levels in the order you choose, so long as you beat a level connected to the one you want to choose. This is great as it allows you to plan which unlockables to go after or avoid as you attempt to reach Dark Skull's lair and free the town of his evil. The bad part is the game doesn't tell you what unlockables are where, so you have to do some trial and error before you figure out the best path to take.
Each stage can only be defeated once, so you must collect as much gold as possible, or you could find yourself stuck and in need of restarting the game. Trust me when I say you will need this gold as it costs a whopping $1,000 to repair your character and $2,000 to buy another dose of Shocktamin A, the item that refills your health whenever it reaches 0.
The third twist is the co-op mode as both players are onscreen at the same time and are forced to share a lifebar. Additionally, each player must purchase the two beam upgrades but they share all other unlockables. The co-op mode also features two unique moves as you can shoot the other player with the beam weapon to light them on fire and send them charging across the screen. Conversely, you can shoot them as they charge up a beam themself and allow them to then fire a super beam weapon that has more power and size. Co-op mode also allows one player to stand on the head of the other, giving the beam weapon added height and mobility. Be careful though, as you can slash your partner causing them to bug out.
Despite featuring 15 different maps you can play there are only 3 different backgrounds, well 5 if you count the park and town night and day maps as different. The boss fights also have their own background, which is just a darkened version of the stage background. Speaking of bosses, there are literally 2 boss sprites(a dragon and a big robot) that get recycled for all the stages except the final one. The stages themselves all look decent but they are definitely of their time. By contrast, the music in the game still holds up and is very lively.
I already mentioned the instruction booklet scans in the game's Gallery mode but there are also some sketches in there as well. Nothing too great but a nice little touch. There are the typical CRT TV and color filters we have come to expect from older games getting modern ports. Same goes for the game's rewind feature. The fast forward feature is new though and it really helps you speed up the after boss fight down time. Lastly, the game features an invincibility mode as well as a cheat to give you a ton of money.
Final Verdict: Recommended
There are a few issues with Cyber Citizen Shockman but nothing you can't deal with or that make the game any less fun. The short play time, you can beat the game in under an hour, and lack of replayability are two big strikes against the game but the cheap price tag and fact that you may have never heard of this game let alone play it before make up for those failings.