Cyber Shadow, developed by Mechanical Head Games and published by Yacht Club Games, is an 8-bit, ninja-action game set in a dystopian world taken over by an evil doctor. However, while this simple statement does describe Cyber Shadow, the depth and wonder that Mechanical Head Games has poured into this title goes beyond simple description and must instead be experienced to truly be appreciated.
Presented in nostalgia-inducing 8-bit, Cyber Shadow begins with the final surviving member of a ninja clan, Shadow, being tasked with solving the mystery of the downfall of his clan and Mekacity, both victims of Dr Progen and his synthetic progeny. A robotic companion somehow linked to your clan, L-Gion, helps to get Shadow acquainted with the task at hand and offers much-appreciated support from time to time, both in progressing the story and gameplay upgrades.
During my time with Cyber Shadow, I was pleasantly surprised with the varied ways that story was interwoven into gameplay. Rather than just a bunch of text to read and then letting the player loose, Cyber Shadow features gorgeous 8-bit cutscenes, dialogue and flavour text throughout, and appropriately epic boss-banter unlike any other game in the genre.
While the story does seamlessly intertwine into the action, said action deserves recognition on its own as well. In the vein of similar titles from the era of 8-bit platformers such as Mega Man and Metroid, Shadow begins as a simple yet determined ninja, though this changes and the game progresses. Upgrades and bonus abilities are offered temporarily at certain checkpoints (of which there are thankfully many), though the most useful skills are unlocked by defeating bosses. These Ninjutsu skills represent the essence of Shadow’s departed clan’s greatest warriors, imparted to help with his treacherous journey.
In addition to unlocking new skills by defeating bosses, other important manoeuvres are acquired by standing up against challenges given by past clan members in the Ethos, a secret realm that Shadow has access to during times of meditation. While these trips to the Ethos are not frequent, they do offer further insight into what has happened to the world, along with details about Dr Progen’s disturbing descent into madness.
I could go on and on about Cyber Shadow, though it would be a better use of your time to try the game yourself than to read my ramblings! I only compared this title to games like Mega Man and Metroid due to my total faith that Cyber Shadow deserves its own place at the table with such titles, and I eagerly await what Mechanical Head Games brings to that table next!
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