08th Nov2023

‘Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

One of the things that has marked out this current generation of consoles is the re-releases of old(er) games on new formats – something that has given new life to old franchises and resurrected long-dead games AND games that never saw the light of day either worldwide or merely just Western audiences.

This is where Cyber Citizen Shockman and its sequel come in.

Cyber Citizen Shockman was a PC Engine franchise, a console that never really made it to the UK outside of the big import gamers of the time (I yearned for a PC Engine back in the day and still have never played on one to this day). The PC Engine did debut in the US as the Turbografx 16 but not all the games in the PC Engine catalogue made it out to the US.

Originally released in 1989, Cyber Citizen Shockman was followed up by a sequel, Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace some three years later. And out of the two, it’s the latter that is the better of the two games. Why? Well, the first game is, compared to modern platform games, is frustrating. Both games are essentially Mega Man “clones” but the original game feels much like a bootleg game, a la the original Amiga release of Giana Sisters, it’s level design feels off, and there’s a real arbitrary nature to the entire thing.

The sequel massively improves on the original, feeling much more akin to a Mega Man game, albeit a poor man’s version, but it still suffers from some of the foibles of the games of the time. Namely, the collision detection feels off, and the difficulty level is through the roof… Thank god then for the ability to make your character invincible in this Switch port! On the plus side, Cyber Citizen Shockman 2 features some variety in its level design, foregoing the traditional side-scrolling platform action to deliver shmup-style action that really splits up the monotony of the platforming experience.

What also helps Cyber Citizen Shockman 2 is the soundtrack, composed by Koji Hayama. It’s a fun musical score that echoes the amazing soundtracks of games of the time. Plus Hayama composed the music for a Mega Man game (Mega Man ZX Advent on the Nintendo DS), so you know his work is good!

Going back to the ability to make your character invincible… Honestly, invincibility is needed when it comes to the letter third of the game frankly. It’s at that point the game’s big bosses get ridiculously difficult to battle, much harder than the games’ contemporaries at the time, NOT just compared to games of today. Like, harder than ANY Mega Man villain, and that’s saying something! How anyone ever completed this game back in the early 90s I have no idea. Maybe muscle memory in the same way I can play through the Ninja Gaiden games without flinching, or speed-running the Super Mario Bros series on the NES?

Ultimately, if you’re going to pick up either of the Cyber Citizen Shockman games I would definitely go for the sequel. Mainly because I couldn’t even get through most of the original game, it’s a frustrating experience and one that, in the end ruins the game – which is why this review focuses on the sequel rather than the first game!

*** 3/5

Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace, and Cyber Citizen Shockman, are both available on the Nintendo Switch now, courtesy of retro-experts Ratalaika Games.


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