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Cyborg Hunter Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1988 Also On: None

Here’s a strange one. One thing I like is a platforming title that does
something original with the genre, rearranging it to create a unique feel.
Sometimes this can be a good thing, other times not. Cyborg Hunter is not
a bad game, but it’s not the best either. I must say I was disappointed in
the long run because it presents so well at first and really could have been
incredible. This goes with my favorite video game law; never judge a game
until you’ve played it thoroughly. Lots of interesting features in this
title, I only wish they took more time on it. To start, let me say you
could easily compare this game, in style, to something like Metroid or

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Graphically, Cyborg Hunter is a mix. At times the animations and sprites
are very colorful and detailed, other times they’re pretty half-assed.
This, and the programmers didn’t really stick to the theme or at least seem
to be confused on exactly what “cyborg” means. I’ll get to this in the
creativity department because it doesn’t apply here. Some enemies look
good, definitely fitting, whereas others look really, really lame and out of
place. The first chief cyborgs you face, for example, are these stupid,
red, clunky looking things that shoot what looks like boxing gloves at you.
The worst example of all is when you finally don the jet pack. I was
totally psyched about this puppy, but when you wear it they didn’t bother
doing anything with the animations, you look like your standing still and
float around. Absolutely no suggestion of flames or flying, more like a
hovering, non-moving bulk. Come on guys, at least add two flames or
something. The bosses tend to be refreshing and nicely done, but the
backgrounds of the levels are too repetitive. I must say they did a good
job with the three-screen approach and it presents well in general, just
needed touching up. The ending, however, nearly ruins what goodness is
found here, it makes no sense and is graphically disgusting. I’m not sure
why they even bothered with it, talk about cutting corners.

The sound as well is half-and-half. Sometimes it’s great, creating a
wonderfully dark atmosphere with this “technological” sound to it, at other
times sounding more like a cartoon-style platformer in the likes of Disney’s
Duck Tales. The boss music is a bit of a mess too, needed some work there.
I didn’t like it. In general the sound effects work well, though a few are
misplaced in my opinion. When you’re hit, for example, it almost sounds
like someone stepping on a puppy, it’s this little yelp sound that I really
doubt a cyborg-hunting bounty hunter would make when he gets struck by a

Here we go. You know, Cyborg Hunter really has some unique aspects to it,
if they just did some more work it would have been unbelievable. Basically,
you control the bounty hunter Paladin, running around the base of a cyborg
named Vipron. There are seven stages in all and you spend your time taking
out cyborgs and finding different items necessary to complete your quest.
So it’s half platformer and half adventure in a way, that’s why I mentioned
Metroid. What I really like is the set-up. You have three main screens to
pay attention to. In the upper right is the level map, to give you a
general idea of where you’re going. The bottom half of the screen is the
play area and the upper left is your radar. Excellent idea. Were it not
for this little treat, you wouldn’t know when you were approaching cyborgs
and chief cyborgs. You hear a beeping as you approach the latter, and close
to when you’ll see them, a blip appears on the radar. The normal cyborgs
just appear as red blips. Really enjoyed that, it adds to the overall feel.
There’s also the “elevator” segment of every stage. You go up and down
levels using elevators, and when you enter one the screen changes to the
interior of the elevator with a series of buttons replacing the radar in the
upper left. Another cool aspect. Definitely adds to the environment
they’re trying to create.

So what’s the problem? Well, first off, it’s generally an easy game. You
can waste the majority of the cyborgs in a few hits and can easily repower
your weapons by walking in and out of elevators to make the proper icons
appear again and again. Same deal with your life meter, you can pretty much
never die except for in the boss chambers. These guys are just pathetic,
and even the final boss won’t give you much of a challenge. The one great
thing that Sega did here was make use of the second controller. Instead of
having you get up and push the pause button on the console itself as you
have to in many a Master System title, by pressing Button 1 or 2 on the
second controller you can access your inventory, controlling the selector
with controller one. This enables you to switch weapons and tools. Great

My only problem is that the number of weapons and tools is limited. Three
of the tools are only used to access the doors to get further in the game
and have no true usage in actual play. Two of them do, but you don’t use
them more than twice in the game. One of them, in fact, you only use once
now that I think of it, and Adina appears to tell you when to use it so it
eliminates the purpose. The weapons are kind of cool, but one of them is
just worthless, called the “Light Gun.” It’s the same thing as the Ray Gun
but it lights up dark areas. Okay, I can see how that could be cool, but
it’s frivolous unless you actually have to use it. When you’re in the dark
areas, there’s nothing to really avoid. You can still see the cyborgs when
they approach, only the backgrounds are dark, and even your character is
visible. If they wanted to make it useful, they should have made everything
dark or thrown in some pits for you to fall into. You can run straight
through the dark parts without even using the damn thing. It’s pointless.
You also have bombs that you can pick up all over the place, operated by
pressing up on the Directional Pad. Big mistake. Why? Well, now and then
you may not be standing exactly in front of the elevator as you should, and
you waste a bomb. This happened to me at least once every level. Thank god
you don’t need them for anything. Overall, not terrible really, just not
the best for actual content.

Here we go, I had major problems with the creativity factor in Cyborg
Hunter. It’s a really cool concept and has been presented in a unique way,
but the programmers seem a little uncertain just what “cyborg” means. Most
of the time, you’re battling it out with robotic-looking enemies. But all
over the place, you have these strange things that are not cyborgs, even
though the manual lists them as such. For example, at one point you’re
fighting these little, red maggot things that spit mucous at you. Perhaps
Vipron took some animal or something and made a freak out of it using robot
parts, I’m hoping that’s what they had in mind. In another level, not to
mention the fact that you don’t face basic enemies more than a few times,
the chief cyborgs are living piles of slime. Cool, but again, they’re not
cyborgs. A cyborg is a living being with robotic parts. I don’t understand
what’s cyborg about this. Maybe I’m being too picky, but the manual lists
them as “lower cyborgs.” I’m really hoping there was a mistake in
translation here or the fault of Activision when they translated the manual,
because in-game Adina mentions the word “monster” at one point to reference
things like this. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, but I feel uneasy
doing so. This seems more like a case of “cool name, build a game around it
and screw the content.” Something tells me they were going for an
evil-cyborg mutation thing, but it’s never mentioned. Because of this issue
and a lack of serious work on the overall look of the game, the concept has
been ruined. Look at Metroid again. Excellent, everything in it looks
creepy and fits the theme. Some things in Cyborg Hunter just don’t work at
all. They should have thrown in a story about Vipron ruining life or
something to make sense out of these things.

I’m not too sure if I’d play this again in the future. It’s easy, so it’s
not like it would bother me to give it a go, but I just don’t see a point
really. I’m still in disbelief about the ending and not exactly sure what I
saw, so I may play it again to try to figure that mess out, but even then it
seems like wasted time. Speaking of time, I will say this game has good
length. It can be beaten in a little under an hour, maybe a bit longer,
just right. However, for the kind of game they seem to have wanted to
program, it should have been longer with a password feature. But if you
like it how it is, then you’ll likely enjoy the amount of time you have to
put into it, it’s not bad at all. I, however, was hoping for a longer game.

In conclusion, I’m not going to tell you to totally avoid Cyborg Hunter, but
I wouldn’t make it a priority on your “to do” list. If you’re looking for
something more involved, go for Zillion, it’s a lot better. Had they worked
on this title, it would have been a real blast, but they didn’t. The NTSC
version tends to be a lot harder to find than the PAL, and there’s probably
a reason for this. Maybe Sega itself was hesitant about it’s release?
There’s only one Activision title for the Master System you need to worry
about, and it’s Rampage. Get this if you want, but don’t say I recommended

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 5.5
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6
Written by Stan Review Guide