many of you out there played Marvel vs. Capcom? No, I'm not going to
shoot you this time. Now, how many of you were curious as to who the
heck Jin Saotome was? None? Oh, you don't remember who he was. He was
the guy in the white suit with the robot. The one with the exploding
clothes. Sir, that's not the exit, that's a broom closet- oh well, too
(among others) originated in Cyberbots, a mid-nineties gimmick fighting
game featuring giant robots. I really can't see why Capcom never saw
fit to port this game to the USA considering the eagerness with which
they bludgeoned us with other second-string fighters like Star Gladiator.
Of course, before any rabid Star Gladiator fans start rattling their
glowing semitransparent things in the air, keep in mind I mean "second-string"
in the context of "Not Street Fighter." That said, back to
has a few things going for it. The 'boost' system, while kind of frustrating
at first since I spent a lot of early matches hammering it instead of
an attack button, grants you an extra bit of maneuverability. It's kind
of like a double-jump, except you can keep doing it until your boost
meter runs all the way down. This comes in especially handy in battles
against opponents who like to attack the ground with area effect stuff.
The mechs (called VA's, for the record) also have a 'weapon' button,
kind of like the vulcan cannons in Gundam Wing: Endless Duel. These
things range from floating laser pods to land mines. You can also lop
off your opponent's arm with a steady barrage of attacks, but they can
pick it back up. (It's kind of like the deal with Vega's claw. Only
the flashing arrow says "1P/2P ARM.") Oh, and they also added
an SNK-style super system. Meaning you can charge up if your bar isn't
building up fast enough on its own. Once filled, you begin to glow and
your attacks get stronger for a little while, fortunately unlike SNK's
old MAX system, your bar doesn't vanish after the powerup, instead it
remains until you perform an actual super. Which all seem to be two
quarter-circles forward followed by light or hard punch. Just so you
and foremost: This game is hard. With four (five on Sega Saturn) bosses
at random intervals, and special attacks with huge area effects, it's
hard to clear some rounds, let alone with a good score. Case in point,
Blodia Swordsman has mines that create short energy walls, and while
you're kept at bay by those, it casually swats you with a full-screen
probably be disappointed the first time you see the pilot select screen,
with only six available characters. After all, Street Fighter II: The
World Warrior set the absolute minimum at 8 (with Waku Waku 7
being the rare exception.) But once you've picked your pilot, you have
your choice of four mech types, with three forms of each available.
For example, and because Blodia is usually the only frame type I ever
pick, the Blodia type comes in regular Blodia, Riot, and Swordsman modes.
Why a Swordsman type has a tread assembly for a lower body is beyond
me. I'm not really sure what effect the pilot you choose has on the
gameplay, since playing as Jin gave me the same set of moves as when
I fought as the space pirate girl.
of the pirate girl, here she is with The Girl in the Plastic Bubble.
Whereas Jin fights for justice in his dead pop's mech, I assume she's
fighting for profit ('cuz of the Jolly Roger insigna on her cap.) I
like Pirate Girl. She looks kind of like what would happen if Chun-Li
gave in to Bison and became a Shadowloo/law officer.
while randomly doling out motivations for people I don't know, I'm guessing
the green haired girl in the Tupperware wants out of there. She cries
a lot. I really could spend about five minutes on Google before writing
these articles researching, but ehhh...
what's a mech game without some random characters who have no business
piloting mechs in the first place? We have a cyborg knight who bears
a casual resemblance to Arthur of Ghosts n' Goblins fame, and some little
wild kid with his easily spooked sister. At the upper right, is Nondescript
Rastafarian/Rocker Bounty Hunter Man. Thankfully, he's learned to use
weapons as weapons instead of trying to use music as the weapon. (Open
note to Aerosmith: No, we'll never let you forget about that game.)
and her lackeys show up about three matches in to challenge you with
a flying octopus mech named Super-8. Talk about product placement. For
a while, I was convinced she was the final boss as she effortlessly
blasted my mech away over and over. Unfortunately, they don't let you
off that easy. There are two other bosses designed specifically to suck
quarters/yen/press of the 5 key out of your pocket. First, There's the
aptly-named Helion. I say 'aptly' because he's both a transforming helicopter,
and from hell. I can't express in words the exact amount of frustration
that comes from fighting an opponent who seems to have a full autoguard
on at all times and can fly about the screen at will. Unfortunately,
as I said with Super-8, that ain't the worst of it. I spent a half hour
fighting the stupid thing and its Borg pilot, only to find out there
was still more game. From there, I got in a fight with a small,
extremely fast VA that never seemed to run out of Boost. After apparently
befriending the Kiyone-ish pilot, I then set off for space. Whoopie.
battle with Riot Blodia later, I find myself face to face to face to
face with the living computer subtly named G.O.D., and its AV, Warlock.
All I can say is that Capcom must have been practicing for the infamous
God Rugal with this one. It can split into two copies of itself without
using its meter, it uses slash attacks with ridiculous priority and
wide angles, fling ring lasers that take up nearly all the screen that
return back to him, and probably some other things I've shut out of
my mind for the moment. Oh yeah, and there's a floating dead angel or
something in the background. Because dammit, you can't have a 'final
boss' encounter anymore without someone sprouting wings.
in all, Cyberbots is pretty well done. The graphics include a variety
of background damage effects, including an undersea battle that sends
a portion of the continental shelf plummeting into the deep. The best
part of the entire game (and also the worst) is the boss fireball defeated
mechs go up in at the end of the match. This isn't your standard "explosion
sprites flashing over the injury animation" blast, or those strange
perfectly spherical anime explosions. You get a nice thick cloud of
black smoke, sparks and shrapnel as little bits of your mech fall to
the ground leaving you in a goofy little escape ship. "TARGET DESTROYED."
No kidding. If only all death animations were so satisfying. Maddening
final bosses and limited character select aside, go ahead. Make Jin's
day. Just don't look directly at him when his clothes explode.