Super Cyborg is a Contra clone, there’s just no way around it. The game does little to nothing to differentiate itself from Contra, it is a true clone, but its a great clone. It looks and feels like what its a copy of, so if you like Contra, play Super Cyborg.
With the Contra similarity so glaring, its more specific to Super-C. Toward the end, there is an overhead section like Super-C, the E weapon is the same as Super-C, there is a boulder that rolls down hills at you. Its as if Super Cyborg took Super-C, remixed enemy placement, reskinned it and modernized it a bit with features like character cosmetics then released it. Would it be that simple? No, not at all. There are a lot of good features here such as online multiplayer that works well enough to make it through the game, even on hard mode.
You pick your character skin and modify its color before you are sent on your way to one of the most brutal run and gun experiences I’ve ever been through. Like any Contra game, the odds are against you. Running enemies constantly spawn to keep you moving, bosses have complex patterns, and that’s all manageable. Where it takes a turn for the worse is 3 lives, one hit deaths and unlimited continues. It might be days worth of effort to get through the third level alone, between its length and 2 bosses. Player placement is a key factor and I only know that after going through the entire game four times.
Its tough to recommend Super Cyborg due to the 3 lives issue. The original Contra and even Contra 3 were manageable, the levels were far shorter. It also feels like there were far less enemies. Super Cyborg is indeed still a good game, but with longer enemies and 33% more repetition. The levels could have been half as long to make a better game. It feels like the Contra games had more frequent weapons than Super Cyborg’s which are few and far between.
Its easy enough to play, because the game lets you jump, move and shoot in eight directions. You can even press an aim button to give you 8 directional control without moving. I would prefer to hold the aim button rather than have a toggle, but whatever. There is also a charge shot, but even four times through the entire game, I’m still uncertain how to use it. You can play with a controller or rebind keys.
There are a few weapons to pick up, the laser that shoots straight, the exploder that explodes in 4 diagonal directions, the spread gun, the machine gun, the rapid fire to shoot faster, a barrier to protect you and a bomb that wipes the screen clear. You get your first bomb when there are no enemies around, so that’s a bit of a missed opportunity. Your default weapon is a steady stream of bullets and you only need to hold the button.
The game does a good job of introducing new enemies and challenges. You will first see things in the easiest situations possible, alone where there is nothing else, but eventually the game stacks them into complex situations to amp up the challenge. The foes are well designed and complex as well. A jumping frog with a lot of health that jumps at you slow enough where you can shoot it dead, but get close and its tongue lashes out. You can still have a chance to be safe by running underneath in a split second gap. It just goes to show off how extensive some of the enemies can get.
Bosses have good patterns as well, still designed to kill you, but good patterns. A mutant eye tentacle has eyes open up to shoot you. Destroy the eyes and the mouth opens up to belch out worms and bouncing projectiles. Take out the mouth, then more eyes open up. The eyes fire more projectiles the more you dispatch. As tricky as it is, its one of the more manageable boss fights due to the fact you can stay so far away and see everything coming at you.
After completing each difficulty, something new is unlocked, like a human character skin or a new difficulty setting. It didn’t feel like there was much difference between easy and normal difficulty, other than more running enemies spawned. Hard difficulty was a drastic bump up with more enemies and more enemies shoot or shoot more than they used to. The irony of completing the game on hard mode is the game reveals three codes, one of which is a 40 life code.
If you know the code, Super Cyborg becomes a far better game.