Cyber Shadow – NINJA GAIDEN 2.0? – Review

In a similar vein to the NES classics, Cyber Shadow doesn’t waste any time smacking you silly. I know it’s cliche as anything to say “this is Dark Souls-level difficulty”, but it honestly is. If you’ve played the original Ninja Gaiden games, you’ll also know how humbling of an experience they were… And by that I mean, resisting the urge to throw your controller at the wall. But man, is it not satisfying once you beat that boss or area you’ve died on 50 times!

Game Design & Slick Moves

In terms of gameplay, it’s virtually identical to the previously mentioned NES games, though that’s not a bad thing at all. Personally, I don’t believe that new titles need to constantly revolutionise their mechanics from game-to-game, platform-to-platform. If the formula is already so strong, then why should developers look to change the formula?
I think you’ll see that Cyber Shadow proves this point…

Personally, I don’t believe that new titles need to constantly revolutionise their mechanics from game-to-game, platform-to-platform.

The player character, Shadow looks and feels just like Ryu from the Ninja Gaiden series, minus the fancy flips in-air. You can sprint, slash, jump off walls, throw shurikens and unlock a handful of special moves to take down enemies. You know, the usual ninja set-up (if that’s a thing). It’s simple in its control scheme, but still, so much fun to play.

Shadow’s fireball attack is useful for dealing with pesky enemies up above.

Shadow progresses through a series of ‘chapters’, fighting gauntlets of enemies, whilst taking down two bosses at the halfway and endpoints of the levels. There’s a heap of precise platforming involved in these levels, and the obstacles normally have an enemy placed somewhere in a VERY uncomfortable spot to deal with. So you could say that the environment itself is an opponent, and that actually is the case in some areas. One level, in particular, has faulty electrical wiring which can damage Shadow if he’s not careful. Another has insta-death spikes that’ll start rushing towards him until he escapes their reach.

Ninja Gaiden’s Formula… With A Modern Touch

Now since Shadow has unlimited lives and the fact that his currency accumulates after a failed attempt, you needn’t worry about how many times Shadow bites the dust. Because quite honestly… I probably wouldn’t be able to finish this game for the review, let’s be real. I consider myself quite good at these types of games too, but Cyber Shadow still got me a royally spanked.

The bosses themselves are consistently difficult and challenging throughout, but they’re never outright cheap or anything like that. After a few attempts, you’ll start recognising their attack patterns and notice the tide slowly shifting in your favour…

The bosses themselves are consistently difficult and challenging throughout, but they’re never outright cheap or anything like that.

Well, at least that was my experience with it, maybe I actually do just suck at these games. Though that was Cyber Shadow’s biggest drawcard for me; learning the ropes in boss battles, whilst also figuring out the best way to advance through a tricky enemy and platforming setup. It really is ultra addictive progressing through a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in this game.

Cyber Shadow’s Problems & Solutions

That being said, some of the enemy locations were obviously placed in areas you just knew the developer was giving you a hard time with. I got completely stuck on this one mini-boss encounter with moving platforms and insta-kill spikes underneath, all the stuff. Which practically forced me to spend my hard-earned currency on a shield-attack item, just to cheese through it. Some of these enemy locations definitely soured the overall experience. But then again, this game was designed by only one person, so I will cut them some slack there… Just a little.

This mini-boss was deceptively frustrating.

The good thing is, checkpoints are spread out in a fair and reasonable amount. They’ll fully recover your HP & SP for special attacks (if you pay for that option) and allow you to purchase the aforementioned shield-attack item and more ninja goodness. They’re all very handy tools that allow you to stay more on the offensive or keep progressing at a steady pace. What’s also really cool is that not all of these items are on a timer. Instead, they’ll only disappear if Shadow takes too much of a beating. Meaning you can use them for an extended window of opportunity if you’ve got solid tekkers.

What’s also really cool is that not all of these items are on a timer. Instead, they’ll only disappear if Shadow takes too much of a beating.

You can also find hidden pathways around the map which normally lead to an HP or SP upgrade after you collect three of the same sort. So, Cyber Shadow does technically have an added element of replayability, but that’s about it in terms of extra features.

Bare-Bones Story & Characters

Now in regards to the story… It’s your typical, ‘take back the city’ scenario you’ve seen a bajillion times before. I was honestly checked out, lightning-fast. So don’t worry, I wouldn’t be able to spoil anything to you, even if I could. All I know is that these types of stories have been done way better before.

It’s your typical, ‘take back the city’ scenario you’ve seen a bajillion times before. I was honestly checked out, lightning-fast.

On the cast side of things, you’ve got Shadow, who’s a silent protagonist, and doesn’t really have any semblance of characterisation at all. Meanwhile, the other characters just flutter in occasionally to deliver some exposition and then fly straight back out.
Hopefully, you like big, fat walking exposition dumps, because I certainly don’t.

Thanks, Mr. Exposition!

The only semi-interesting character I found entertaining was this little robot guy you meet about 70% of the way in. Purely because he made some self-aware jokes that actually gave me a bit of a chuckle.

But that was about it, moving on.

Cyber Shadow’s Awesome 8-Bit Soundtrack!

On a much more a positive note, the music in Cyber Shadow really pulls out that NES nostalgia string brilliantly! I’m a big fan of this soundtrack and how well it emulates those classic 8-bit synths. The melodies and atmosphere of the tracks just pump you up so much and make you want to keep fighting. As for the sound effects, they come across as super impactful and in-your-face, which definitely helps sell that NES look and feel this game’s going for.

Decision

So is Cyber Shadow worth picking up? That’s a big yes! Especially if you’re a fan of retro gaming. Cyber Shadow will bring you right back to the 8-bit mania of the early ’80s & ’90s. The whole experience is mighty impressive, even more so when you realize it was made by a solo developer. It’s so simple, yet just as brutal and entertaining as the NES days. A true testament to how legacy-style games still stand the test of time.

By Anthony Culinas

Great

Cyber Shadow is perfect for fans who’ve been longing for a revival of the classic 80’s & 90’s action-platformers. The story itself won’t grip you, and there definitely are some controller-throwing moments, but the gameplay and music are so addictive! Check it out if you’re in the mood for some hardcore, retro gaming.

Game by Mechanical Head StudiosThe Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.

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